Developing Animations For Education: Where To Start?

The Pre-Production Animation Process For Videos
Summary: Don't know where to start? This article will guide you through the pre-production animation process for an instructional video.

The Pre-Production Animation Process For An Instructional Video

Communication is one of the critical factors leading to the success of the work, whether it is your course's Instructional Design or the collaboration between you and your partners. Lots of my clients are confused about how to create appropriate animations for education. They have never done it before and they do not know where to start. In this article, I'd love to guide you through the pre-production animation process for an instructional video.

1. Get To Know Who You Are Working With

So let's say you want to produce one or a series of animated educational videos. The first thing you do is start looking for an animation partner. You have several options, like working with freelancers, local studios, or those across the sea. The differences between these choices lie in the price and your quality expectations.

Whatever your choice might be, you should always get to know who you are working with first. There are several things you should look for beforehand:

  • Portfolio
    A portfolio is the most direct way for studios to prove their abilities; it presents their work with a variety of different styles. You can check out if they have "style" and whether this "style" suits you and your project.
  • Clients
    Most studios show off their previous partners right on their websites' homepage. It would be impressive if they worked with some big names in the industry. However, one thing that needs more of your attention is actually their experience with clients whose services are similar to yours. So if they have a background in producing animations for education, they could even consult you on how to make animations that work.

The portfolio and client "showdown" can show you the abilities of an animation studio or a skillful freelancer. When you have a better understanding of your partner, it is time to let others get to know you. Let's start with a brief.

2. Create A Brief

The brief is essential in the pre-production stage. It acts as an introductory message for your animation partner. It quickly helps your production team understand more about your company, your project expectations, and your requirements. The brief should not be longer than two pages. In fact, it would be best to be one page. Hence, you should include information such as:

  • Company and contact information
    List some quick information about your company, the name of your course, contact details, and email.
  • Learning objectives
    What is the message or purpose of the animated educational videos? What are you trying to achieve with the animation for education? Or how will the animations help you reach your learning goals? Try to be specific in this section of the brief so that the producers can better understand your expectations.
  • Primary audience
    It's about the demographics of the learners. The variation in ages, genders, living environments, and educational backgrounds can have a considerable impact on viewers' video preferences. For example, animations for students in leadership training programs are much different than those videos targeting those taking engineering courses.

When you identify the above general information, you should move onto animation expectations and requirements:

  • Delivery requirements
    Sometimes educators need videos in different resolutions and formats to work with their LMS or promotion channels. For example, you may ask your partner to deliver files in different formats, such as ×9 orientation to embed in the course, square format for social media platforms, or even a GIF to replace dull, static illustrations. In eLearning, it is also reasonable to request captions to make the content accessible to disadvantaged students.
  • Project deadlines
    Set a deadline for your animated learning video project. However, depending on the animation complexity a realistic project timeline needs to be considered.
  • Budget
    The price is indeed flexible for many types of animations. Motion graphics are cheaper than hand-drawn animations most of the time. However, the complexity of motion graphics may vary based on the project. As a result, the price also differs. If you set your budget beforehand, then your partner can propose more suitable options.

The brief is just the first step when collaborating with an animation studio or freelancer. There are discussions to be had and considerations to be made before jumping into the actual animation production.

3. Attach Branding Guideline

The branding guideline is like the DNA of your organization. Your partner needs the branding guideline to ensure that the animations for education stay consistent with everything else in the course, like the slide graphic design or the website.

So what happens if you do not have a branding guideline?

Firstly, you should have one. Secondly, your partners can help you create a new style guide. They use the style guide to maintain the animation series' consistency, making sure nothing looks off. Lastly, you could use such guidelines to apply everything else in the course—such an improvement in graphic design!

You must understand that the best feature of a tailor-made service is authentic styling options that fit your brand and target audience perfectly. There is no template, thus you are free to customize your animation style. For instance, you can adjust the color scheme to be more bluish, which would make a perfect match for your blue branding guideline.

4. Identify Your Style Preference

Having a style preference saves you lots of time in the working process. Imagine an alternative universe where there is no style preference. You do not know what type or style of animation you like, you have no clear expectations or requirements—either do your production partners. Customization gives you various choices to choose from, but it also means that there is more work for the producers and more time needed. Or, you could give your partner a style preference from the start.

You could start with a link. Send a link of a reference animated video with the style that is appropriate to your course. Such animation will give the production team references about the animation type, video quality, and even the tone of the course. It would be best to find animations that are the most similar to your expectations. Suppose you are creating an animation for K12 kids, in that case, an educational animation in the same field will help the studio better understand your requirements. It doesn't need to be complicated, just send them a video with a style that you like.

5. Write The Script

Yes, most animation studios have scriptwriters in-house. Nevertheless, to help the production process go smoother, you should write the script on your own or craft ideas for the script beforehand. You know the learning content best. Well, it can be challenging even for top scriptwriters to write about cash flow management or the circulation system of the human body. Moreover, you know what key elements are needed to help engage students. The scriptwriter may be the master of generating a story for animation, but you are better at making educational content. And you do not need to worry much about the script format, your animation partner will help you edit the script to make it work.

On the other hand, many animations for education act as visual explanations for complicated concepts in a course. They need no plot or story. Lots of my clients provide us with their voice over and request animations to visualize their recordings. Yes, your voice over can make an excellent script for the animation.

6. Provide Visual Materials For The Storyboard

Sometimes the learning content becomes too specialized and complicated that you may need to provide your partner with visual materials. Something like illustrations in a book or live-action footage references can help your collaborator craft the storyboard correctly.


Even if they have done various projects for education, the animators do not have as in-depth an understanding of Instructional Design as you do. So to collaborate with the production partners effectively, you should be involved more in the animation process's pre-production steps. Craft the script and provide materials for the storyboard. You can help them avoid mistakes and confusion in the animations for education.

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