We’re not just vendors, we’re collaborators too. In fact, that’s what we like most about our work – the latitude to explore new ways of thinking and visualizing concepts, data and processes that are hard, if not impossible to describe otherwise. We get a huge kick out of learning what you’ve invented or discovered, coming to it with fresh eyes that hopefully will lend a new perspective.
IDEA – It all begins with a story.
Whether you need to explain the flight path of charged ions through a mass spectrometer, why a SNP can cause so much trouble, or how a bacterial pathogen escapes detection by the immune system, there’s always a story to tell. And that story is fascinating.
This begins by reviewing any materials you have on the subject, discussing them with you, and, if relevant, other subject matter experts you approve. We aim to learn the science so that we can form a coherent picture in our minds before we move on to the next phase.
Now that we know the story we write it up in a treatment. Generally one or two pages that describe the story and what you’ll see in the animation.
This gives everyone a good idea of what the project will entail and leads us to the next stage.
BUDGET/CONTRACT – Where the rubber meets the road.
Here’s where we come to an agreement on what the scope of the project will be, and whether your budget will support that. If not, then we look at the storyline again to see how to bring expectations into alignment with the budget.
Even if you don’t want to have voiceover narration as part of your project, we feel it’s essential to have a script to time the action to. It’s difficult to retrofit a voiceover to an animation that’s already done. We can write it, you can write it, we can all write it together – it’s your choice.
But it’s time well spent.
Storyboards & styleframes
Storyboards are the visual roadmap we create that defines what objects will be built, and what they’ll do. Think of comic books – they’re the classic definition of storyboards. Coupled with the script, they give a moment by moment picture of what you’ll be seeing in the animation.
Styleframes are still images that define the overall look and feel of the piece. We ask clients for examples they’ve seen that they like, and don’t like, and why. In fact, seeing what you don’t like is almost more informative.
Not every animation needs voiceover, but if often helps to explain particularly difficult concepts.
Also, since not everyone learns the same way, it’s great to have it all packaged in one cohesive experience that’ll hit everybody where they live.
We’ve worked with many voiceover talents and can help you find just the right voice.
Animatics give people who haven’t worked on 3D projects before a tiny moment of heart failure. It’s so, well, grey. Is that what it’s going to look like?
Relax. Two things are happening – we’re blocking the movement of the objects in that shot. Using simple stand-in objects, we can quickly render the shot to see if the object and camera motion are right.
Using reference materials and client direction, we start building the 3D models that will populate the animation.
They made of many things, but mostly polygons and they start out as wireframes. How they get built depends on what they’ll need to do later, when we begin to animate them.
Here’s where we apply all the visual goodness to the models. We can make things look shiny, transparent, gooey, dry, lighter than air, massively heavy and more.
The art of texturing has come a long way from the day when you just slapped a bitmap on a sphere and Bob’s your uncle. Procedural, UV, normal, displacement mapping, and other techniques bring models to life. It’s all in the wrist…
There are a lot of different techniques for animating models in 3D, but suffice it to say that we bend them to our will, and they dance.
In 3D as in the real world, lighting will make or break any production. Since it will impact the way textures look, so we go back and forth between the two until we get something you like. It’s an iterative process.
Think of it this way – the camera is you. What do you want to see?
The movement of the camera is a wonderful tool for telling a story and given all the bells and whistles of what 3D can do, it’s sometimes a forgotten player.
Persistence of vision. It’s what enables your eyes and brain to stitch the images together, making a continuous movie in your mind.
In our world, that translates into thirty frames per second, or 30 fps. Rendering is computing each frame, thirty frames/second, sixty seconds/minute, to make a complete animation.
This is where everything comes together. Rendered frames, music, voiceover, text, and more are brought into our compositing software and delivered in whatever format you need.
And if we’ve done it right, what you get is something that’s much more than the sum of its parts. The production process is one of constant refinement, and we never feel we’re really done. But the deadline comes and it’s time to say farewell to our creation.
Because it has a bigger purpose to play, for you and your company.
We’ll hold on to all the files for one year, in case you need us to go back and change something. After that, well, as time goes on, it gets a bit tricky, because software changes, plug-ins sometimes don’t make it to the next upgrade of the 3D software, and rendering engines change. We have had success resurrecting files from as long ago as twenty years! But it’s not a given.
See Our Work