Our Process

At Cognitive we operate two distinct, but coordinated teams to make products that supercharge your stories. Our Business Team are your first contact with us, they will guide you to a product that best suits your needs before handing you over to the Production Team to get your story revved up!

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It’s not every day that you make an animated film and the process can be quite daunting. There are so many questions to be answered. Don’t worry, we have you covered. Above is an illustrated process map which shows the major milestones. We have also drilled down into the detail of each step in a series of animations below. Just click on the images to watch the animated versions.

Contract & Handover

Our experienced and friendly Business Team is your first point of contact with us, whether through our website, by email or by phone. We will discuss your requirements and help you understand what you really need to make your film a success. From simple illustrations to deep and richly animated explorations, we will use our experience to guide you to the perfect product for you. It’s not every day that you make an animation, so we will be on hand to guide you through our creative process step by step.

Most conversations at this stage take place over the phone or on Skype, but we can meet you in London, or you are welcome to come to our creative studio in Folkestone, or we can come to you – whatever is easiest.

After you have decided what sort of project you want, we agree the contract with you and, once that's signed, we pass the baton on to our Creative Team.

Creative Meeting

The Creative Process for your animation starts here. You’ll meet our Production Manager, your project’s Senior Creative and your assigned Script Writer to discuss your project in detail.

We are very flexible in where we can meet you – either at your offices, our studio in Folkestone or in Central London. We’ll send you an agenda ahead of the meeting so you know what to expect, but we like to keep these meetings informal and fun - because that’s what fuels creativity. We’ll take copious notes as we try to get as much information about you, the subject of your animation and what you want it to achieve, so that when we leave the meeting we’re pretty much ready to start work immediately on the script and visual conception.

Script & Visual Treatment

The key to an engaging animation is a good story. Your Script Writer gets to work teasing out the story we’re going to tell from the information you’ve given us. We will then present you with a Visual Treatment document, including the first draft of your script, to show our intended visual approach and how we’re going to tell your story. The Visual Treatment is our way of making sure we’ve understood your requirements for the film, so this should feel like we are repeating back what you have told us. We will also include a brief explanation of the key elements of what makes up one of our Scribed films.

Feedback on Script & Visual Treatment

Our focus at this stage is to make sure that you are happy with the structure of your story, taking into consideration, the audience you wish to appeal to and the tone of voice for your animation. You will have received the script as part of the Script & Visual treatment package and this is the stage to suggest amendments to that script. We hope to hear your feedback within a few days so that we can re-draft the script and send out a new version to you for approval. Our various animation packages have different rounds of feedback built into them. For example the Animated Infographic package includes one round of feedback. The Essential Message and Extra Narrative packages allow for a few more rounds of feedback to really make sure we hit the nail on the head. Once finalised we can 'Lock' the script ready for us to get busy on the visual side of things!

Storymapping

Storymapping is where our visual thinking goes into overdrive. When the script is close to being signed off, our Creative Team will ‘swarm’ your film, which means they get together to brainstorm ways of visualising the story. These are very lively sessions with lots of ideas thrown around and sparking off each other. The end result is a line-by-line breakdown of your script, presented as a Big Picture story map of how we will to tell your story visually. At this stage, we use ‘Blue Lines’ to differentiate from the final polished illustrations. The Blue Lines are quick  and sketchy, and act as a draft of the illustrations that can be redrawn very easily and quickly. We will send you a copy of the map and later hold a conference call to talk you through the thinking behind our ideas and how they will be developed.

Feedback on story map & animatic

This is a vital stage of the production process, where your input is key. You might love or hate aspects of our visual approach and this is the perfect time to decide what stays and what goes! It’s still easy for us to make changes at this stage, so your thoughts and feedback are very welcome. We now incorporate all your requested amendments as we move into the next stage, still using the rough Blues Lines to create an Animatic. An Animatic is a very simple moving version of the Story Map, used to demonstrate timing of the delivery of information. It has camera moves and minimal things popping on, but uses a ‘scratch’ voiceover (recorded by one of our team). This is where you will get a much clearer idea of the shape your animation will finally take.   We will send you a small-sized file of the Animatic, usually a .mov or an .mp4 to ensure you feel the pacing and storytelling is clear and concise. We will then hold our next catch-up conference call with you to discuss any further feedback you might have. If you need us to make any changes to the Animatic, we will go back to the Story Map and update the Blue Lines accordingly. We will then send you these sections as a still image for your approval.

Illustration

Illustration is a crucial aspect of the process that brings a really engaging, human element to your story. Once we have delivered a Story Map that you are happy with, and while we are working on the animatic, we will start to develop the Blue Line sketches into final version inked illustrations. The Senior Creative works with our Illustrators to build up a range of bespoke characters, ensuring we have the correct gender, age range, and ethnic balance. We can even add in some of your key staff members or associates too!

Voiceover

The voice over sets the tone and feeling of your animation. When we have a locked version of the script, and whilst the final illustrations are in progress, we can start to think about your voice over (VO) recording. We will help you with the selection process of a voice that’s right for your project and will discuss tone and delivery of the script with you. We will send a selection of professional VO artist show reels to you to choose from and will book the artist and studio when your decision is made. Our VO Director will attend the session to ensure the script is delivered as requested and within the time agreed for your film. We highly recommend that a member of your team attend this session to ensure you are happy with the delivery. It’s a wonderful opportunity for you to really become part of the creative process and gives you an even clearer idea of how your animation is coming together. 

Animation

This is the exciting moment when your film comes to life! After the illustrations are complete and we have the voice over, we move on to the final stage of your project - adding camera movement and animation. Once done, we will send you a proof version for your feedback. We will now make any necessary amendments as per your feedback and deliver a 2nd proof for your approval. When you are happy with this, we add sound effects and deliver your final master film to you for sign off.

Sign-off & Delivery

Once we have your signed agreement that everything is the way you want it, we will deliver your animation in the agreed format. We will also deliver any peripheral assets as per the contract, such as The Big Picture or individual stills from the animation. These assets can be very useful for both in-house and external communications or social media. We often find that, although these may not have been requested at the signing of the original contract, they are often requested as add ons at the end of the project. And that’s it! You have an engaging animation which we hope you and your audience will enjoy for many years to come. Get in touch to find out what we can do for you.

Invoicing & Feedback

The end...well, not quite. Once we have delivered your animation and any additional assets, the baton is passed back to our Business Team who will send you your final invoice.  They will also email you a short questionnaire so you can tell us (hopefully) what we got right and what we could do better. Many of our clients are so happy with the films we make for them that they come back and work with us again, and we hope you will, too.

We look forward to hearing from you!