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Why Concept Animation Is Important

ben marvazi 2020

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“Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive."

Walt Disney

Unveiling the Magic of Concept Animation

In the dynamic and competitive world of animation, everyone is looking for that unique edge, that defining element that sets their work apart. There's one fundamental aspect that often doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves—concept animation. 

But what exactly is concept animation? How does it act as a linchpin in the entire animation process? And perhaps most importantly, how can mastering this crucial phase dramatically elevate your animation studio or freelance career to new heights of creativity and profitability? 

In this blog, we're going to delve deep into the multi-faceted world of concept animation. Essentially, we aim to show you how concept animation isn’t just an initial step but serves as the robust foundation upon which all your future animation endeavors should be built.

Cover GIF by Alex Boya via GIPHY

What Is Concept Animation?

a concept animation of a character from the movie Frozen feeding a reindeer

GIF by Walt Disney Animation Studios via GIPHY

Whether you're working on animation concept art or animated concept sketches, each element serves a distinct purpose. The primary aim of this stage is to map out the aesthetics, narrative, and technical aspects that will later be executed in the final animation piece. 

As a freelance animator or animation studio owner, understanding and mastering this phase can give you a substantial advantage in the competitive animation market. It's the blueprint that guides everyone involved in the project, from storyboard artists to animators to directors.

How Is Concept Animation Made?

a moving line drawing of a young man

GIF by TraceLoops via GIPHY

The process often starts with brainstorming sessions, where ideas are thrown around, and mood boards are created. These boards can consist of anything from color palettes to thematic elements related to the project. 

The next step usually involves sketching or digital rendering, where animators bring the ideas from the brainstorming session to life. At this point, the concept animation is refined through iterations, reviewed by key team members, and finally approved for the next stages of production.

The Importance of Testing and Prototyping

a notepad with notes changing very quickly

GIF by Reuben Armstrong via GIPHY

Before diving into full-scale production, concept animation allows you the opportunity to test and prototype your ideas. This is crucial for minimizing risks and identifying potential problems that could lead to costly mistakes later. 

With concept animation, you can create smaller prototypes or storyboards that can be rapidly shared and assessed. This iterative process saves time, effort, and money, as it allows you to iron out kinks, receive feedback, and make necessary adjustments before proceeding to the next phase.

Why Is Concept Animation Important for Freelancers?

a person working and animating at a blue computer

GIF by amelietour via GIPHY

If you're a freelance animator, you might think concept animation is an expendable step, especially when facing tight deadlines or limited budgets. However, this perspective could be limiting your growth. The more robust your concept animation, the clearer your pitch will be to potential clients. 

This clarity could mean the difference between landing an average-paying job and securing a higher-paying, more complex project. A well-thought-out concept can also make the execution phase far more efficient, saving you valuable time and effort, which as freelancers know, equates to money.

The Value for Animation Studio Owners

a man chasing an idea bubble

GIF by John Larigakis via GIPHY

For animation studio owners, concept animation plays an even more critical role. It's not merely a step in the process but a core component of your business model. By investing in high-quality concept animation, you're setting the stage for a more streamlined and error-free production process

The concept phase allows your team to iron out any kinks and inconsistencies before entering the more labor-intensive stages of the project. 

Enhance Client Communication

a basic animated line drawing of a child talking to an adult through a cup and string

GIF by Luis Ricardo via GIPHY

Regardless of whether you're a freelancer or an animation studio owner, concept animation can be your best ally in client communications. This initial stage gives you something tangible to show to your clients, making abstract ideas easier to understand. 

The concept animation sketches, art, or even low-fidelity animations can serve as an invaluable tool for setting client expectations and eliminating misunderstandings. When everyone is aligned from the get-go, you're far more likely to have a smooth project cycle, leading to satisfied clients and potentially more referrals. 

Advantages in Storytelling and Narrative Design

a speech bubble opening up like a book with the text "Tell me a story"

GIF by Linski101 via GIPHY

In the world of animation, storytelling is king, and concept animation lays the groundwork. Whether you're a freelance animator or an animation studio owner, investing time in this phase helps you delve deep into the storyline, ensuring that the narrative elements resonate throughout your project

This focus on storytelling not only enriches the final product but also makes it more engaging for your audience. It enables you to explore various narrative pathways before committing to one, ensuring that your storytelling is as compelling and emotionally impactful as possible.

Concept Animation in Branding and Marketing

a hand holding a megaphone popping out from a smartphone

GIF by Trazoz via GIPHY

For freelance animators and animation studio owners who are keen on building a unique brand identity, concept animation can be an invaluable tool. Developing a recognizable style or visual language starts in the concept phase. 

This branding is often what sets you apart from competitors and helps you attract a particular type of client or audience. Beyond that, the concept sketches and prototypes can be used for marketing materials, helping you generate interest in your upcoming projects or services.

Streamlining Workflow and Team Collaboration

two hands high-fiving through laptop screens

GIF by Atlassian via GIPHY

The advantages of concept animation aren't confined to just the creative aspects; it also has organizational benefits. The pre-production work in concept animation provides clear guidelines for your team, thereby streamlining workflow. 

Whether it’s the storyboard artist, character designer, or animator, everyone has a reference point that ensures cohesive vision and execution. For animation studio owners, this can be particularly valuable for onboarding new team members or freelancers into ongoing projects.

Can a Concept Artist be an Animator?

a hand holding a pencil transforming into a large comical gloved hand with an extra-large pencil

GIF by Make it Move via GIPHY

A common misconception in the animation world is that a concept artist is entirely separate from an animator. The reality is quite the opposite. 

Both disciplines intersect in various aspects, such as the utilization of color theory, understanding of forms, and the mechanics of movement. The skills developed while creating concept animation art can be remarkably beneficial when you transition into the animation phase.

 For freelance animators, this multi-disciplinary approach can offer more job opportunities and client engagements. And if you're an animation studio owner, having staff who can do both can drastically reduce the need for specialized hires, thereby optimizing your operational costs.

Skill Diversification for Greater Career Opportunities

a man sitting in front of a laptop with a rising line graph next to him

GIF by Christina Lu via GIPHY

If you're primarily an animator but are looking to diversify your skillset, learning the ins and outs of concept animation can make you more marketable. Animation studios and clients alike appreciate multi-talented individuals who can bring more to the table than just one specialty

Understanding the intricacies of concept animation could open doors to roles like creative director, art director, or project manager. For freelancers, this can expand your service offerings, making you a one-stop shop for animation projects, thus increasing your income potential. 

Unlocking the Future with Concept Animation

a woman standing in front of a larger-than-life door handle

GIF by Sam Omo via GIPHY

In essence, concept animation is the very nucleus of your entire animation project, holding everything together from the start. 

Whether you're a freelance animator or an animation studio owner, concept animation is not just a recommendation—it's a necessity. Having a well-defined concept stage creates a shared point of reference for everyone involved. 

If you're an aspiring animator or studio owner looking to take your passion to the next level, be it hand-drawn animation or not, consider joining the Animation Business Accelerator Program. 

With on-demand video lessons, live mentorship calls, and a supportive community, you'll gain the tools and knowledge to thrive in the animation industry. Check out our Animation Business Accelerator Program and our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio to kickstart your animation career today.

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