• Craig Thatcher

Why animation is a great way to tell a complex story, simply and quickly




Animations are a great way to tell a complex story, an approach or process in a simple and engaging way. As creators, we decide what to include and what to leave out, and what is left out means what is left in has greater clarity and impact.


In this post we talk about why we decided to use animation on a project for Caice, a building products manufacturer. We describe the process we went through to create the animation, explain our thinking along the way and how and where the animation is being used.



Tell an interesting and engaging story in 3 minutes

We were asked to come up with a way of telling an interesting story about the linear process from the moment that a client gives Caice a brief for designing Acoustic Louvres for one of their buildings to the final installation on-site. We thought it would be good to use animation.




Every story has a start, middle and end

But the story doesn't need to be told in that order. So Craig decided to start with the end, which in this case was a ‘professional installation on time’, then go to the start, which was the client briefing and the design stages, then to the middle, which was the manufacture and delivery of the products, and then back to the end - with a professional installation on time.



What are Acoustic Louvres?

They are physical barriers designed to reduce the sound of noisy plant and machinery reaching neighbours in adjacent buildings. The term ‘Continuous Line’ applies to acoustic louvres with horizontal and no vertical, visually disruptive joints. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye and audibly pleasing on the ear.





Why did we create this animation?

Competitors catch up faster than ever before in terms of product development. So the only way to stay ahead nowadays is to provide an outstanding client experience as well as market-leading products. An experience is far harder to replicate than a physical product and companies with pioneering attitudes are better able to do this than companies playing ‘catch-up’. By using animation we could convey the points of difference that we know that competitors currently can’t match.



Where are we going to use this animation?

It is being used on the Caice website, on social media, in CPD courses and by the sales team in their presentations.

UNDerstanding key stages in the process

We interviewed our client to establish precisely what the key stages of the journey were and what needed to be emphasised, then Craig drafted the copy for each of the stages and obtained approval.

The animation style

As a style guide, we had some basic illustrations created in 2017 for the Caice website and these provided a base in terms of colours, line weights and of course included the Roboto font.

Sequential not simultaneous

It is very difficult to convey in an animation that things happen simultaneously, rather than sequentially, but this is also an advantage as it allows each thing to have its own space in the time line. If seven things happen together in the animation then the viewer could well miss several of them.

Soundtrack but no voice over

We decided not to have a voiceover because the target audience tends to view this type of content on desktop PCs, in offices, surrounded by others with the sound turned off their computers. However, if they do have ‘sound on’ then the soundtrack has an uplifting tempo, one that rises and falls as it changes pace.

Animation development stages


1. Concept

We developed the initial idea based on what every client wants - a professional installation on time, as anything else can be stressful and costly if things go wrong.


2. Storyboard

Divided into chapters, our story was broken down into a series of slides, with accompanying script for each and some very rough sketches or photos transposed onto A6 cards to help decide what order would work best. The script was re-edited several times to reduce the number of words with annotated notes to signify where graphics needed to added to emphasise key points.


3. motion design brief

In a Zoom call with motion designer Nic Flatt, Craig went through the storyboard, the copy, the annotated notes and digital assets. Static illustrations were developed for each of the cards, which were then approved before the motion design was started


4. Animation

Nic combined the illustrations, copy and soundtrack onto an interactive proofing platform that enabled us to view them all together, and once approved, the animation could be started. After about three stages of development the animation was approved, the file was output as a high res and a compressed file.


5. Web page build and email signature deisgn

Craig wrote the copy, designed, built and optimised the web page that would be home for the animation and created banners from other key pages to link to it. He also designed a promotional banner for Caice email signatures, to encourage click through to the animation.


6. Launch communications

The project was successful because our client was closely involved at every stage of the process and used a very small group of his colleagues for critical feedback, before releasing internally, in advance of a public debut via social media.

Digital spin-off assets

We used many elements from the animation for four spin-off ideas as follows:


A. Demonstrating how Acoustic Louvres work

Craig edited the 3D rendered CAD segment at the start and end of the film together and added the sound file of an air conditioning unit that increased or decreased in volume, depending on the addition or removal of the acoustic louvres.


We decided to use this 11 second file as a humorous, tongue-in-cheek way to engage our audience on LinkedIn, as it would be obvious to them that the sound effect, was in effect 'an effect’ because there was no plant or machinery behind the acoustic louvres to generate the sound of noisy plant and equipment. However, it certainly got the idea across.


B. Animated GIF TO grab attention

Craig converted 6 seconds of the file to a GIF, which was used on the Caice website home page as part of a banner and Call To Action to encourage visitors to click thorough to the animation.



C. Animated Caice logo

We edited the animated Caice logo and saved this out as a separate files for our client to use as intros and outros for their video tutorials.



D. Static illustrations

The illustrations will be used for projects elsewhere, especially for use on internal communications.




The results

Our client is very pleased with the animation and in particular the level of engagement that it has achieved. The story, the soundtrack, the overall graphical style and movement in the animation all work well together.

This looks absolutely brilliant! It tells a really strong story about our business which is easy for people to understand who don’t know the ‘ins and outs’ of Caice. The visuals and artwork are lovely and the animated Caice logo is a really nice touch. Thank you for putting it together for us. Neil Timmins, IT Director Caice (left hand side below)



Timings

The project took four to five weeks for the design concept and story board stage, about five weeks for the animation stage and two weeks for web page build and launch communications to be developed.


complicated story to tell?

Do you have a complicated story and are struggling with the best way to tell it then contact Craig today.