Follow this 8 Step Pre-Production Checklist For Best Results
So you’ve decided to take on an animated project. That’s great news! Below are 8 key tips we’ve found are essential for any creator to check off before they hit the “Publish” button.
- Be the leader and take control of your production. This point is #1 for us as it’s the #1 thing that kills projects. No leader, no progress. Having the desire to make a project is fantastic, but you need to make sure you actually have time to lead the project before you decide to jump in. Know than any project is going to take a good part of a year, or more, to complete it. Then see what’s happening in your life for that foreseeable timeframe. Are you getting married, traveling out of the country for an extended period of time (no problem if you can continue to work/lead your project), or is crunch time going to kick in at work? You have to be engaged and have the time or it’s not going to work. No one’s going to work if there is no leader driving the ship. If the ship has no captain then the crew bails and it’s so much harder to try and re-engage them to come back.
- Set yourself up for success by having an attainable goal. Treat your project as a learning experience, not as the ultimate piece of a lifetime. The more projects you do the better you get. Epic, LONG productions take a toll on everyone. Do something that takes 12 months or less and you’ll keep everyone motivated. “What can I get done in 12 months?” If you’re doing a 3D project I’d say no more than a minute. With volunteer projects, you’ll find it doesn’t run as smoothly as paid, professional gigs. If you DO have a budget then this process and expectation can be increased per your budget and time demands. If you’re doing a 2D based project you can expect more, but know that 2D animators are hard to come by and, again, if you have a budget will be much more willing to treat this as a freelance gig and give it their all. 2D takes fewer people in general than full-fledged 3D does.
- Inspire others to join your project via a pitch video. A pitch video is not an animatic video playing your piece or demo game. It’s meant to tell people, in your words, what you are attempting to accomplish, why you need their help and why they should join your project. This is your chance to show people who you are, your passion and who they will be working with. Every Public Artella project requires a pitch video so check some of them out to see what you’d like to create. We also made a guidelines post here which shows you how to keep these simple and get them done fast. Finally, a pitch video allows you to check in with yourself and make sure you have your ideas, motivation and drive in the right place. If you can’t, or don’t want to, make a pitch video then perhaps you shouldn’t tackle making an animated project.
- Preparing your project to get people interested. If you are not a concept designer we encourage you to work with one to create at least one nice piece which you can use for the cover image of your project. This goes a long way as it’s what people see when they are cruising projects on Artella. A catchy cover image will get you clicks onto your Artella project overview page. You may want to consider having a budget for this too. If your project means that much to you and you want to attract talent to it, we say investing some money into it up front makes sense. If you can get more than one great image that represents your project then use it in the description of your project overview.
- Make your project look professional. Don’t skimp here. Write up what your project is about. Use paragraphs with headers. Use Bold text to separate each paragraph so it’s appealing and clear to read. So many people skimp here and the problem is that people just pass your project right on by. If you don’t show much enthusiasm for your project then they will not care to give it a second look. When you get people onto your Project Overview you want them to click the “apply” button. Don’t expect to get inquiries if your project is lacking. Put 30 minutes of effort into your project description and it’ll go a LONG way.
- Be realistic with what your project needs at this moment. Your project will naturally flow in stages. Don’t ask for every position you’ll need for this project when you publish your project. We recommend 5 – 6 open positions at any given time. This allows you to keep your active team small and engaged. If you have 20 – 50 people on your project it’s inevitable that the majority of them are not doing anything. If you run your project in stages it means that, by the end, you may have 60 people who have worked on your project, but some of them worked on it some time back and rolled off as you went onto the next stage of production. We wrote a detailed blog post here on running your production in stages (see point #5). Check it out for more details.
- Set clear expectations for your team production members. Etiquette for team members is A) to know how much time you expect from them per week. 10 hours is the max you can ask for someone on a volunteer project. Go up from there if your project is paid. B) If you are finding Talent on Artella then message them first to let them know you like their work and to see if they will review your overview page and let you know if they’d like to know more about your project. If they do then send them your copy/paste for expectations (A from above). If they agree THEN you can click the “Invite to project” button. Don’t start with that as it takes some back-and-forth to set expectations. It’s important to have the agreement from them before you bring them on as you want people who are going to be excited to make your project happen.
- Hold weekly team meetings to keep your team engaged. Live, video conference meetings should happen weekly with your team. There are many great apps/sites you can use to find a good time to meet with your team. We use this world clock meeting planner (there are others, of course). Weekly meetings are good to keep people engaged but, more importantly, they give you a timebox in which to plan things. “By next week I’d like X complete, can you commit to that?” When people commit they are more likely to get it done and this keeps progress flowing. If you have to skip a meeting, which should be the rare exception, you should still have it and appoint someone on the team to lead it; the CG Supervisor, or the producer, should you have one.
Now you’re ready to publish your project and get your production on the way. We hope these tips help give you some context and some guidelines for what is necessary to get your project up and running on the right page. Feel free to engage us any time by reach out via support. We’re more than happy to help and to answer your questions.