When it comes to 2d animation production process no matter where it’s from or if it’s a movie or TV series they tend to follow a similar structure. For 2d animation the process is normally split into 3 parts pre-production, production and post-production.
The first part the pre-production on of the most important parts in the animation pipeline. This establishes the plot of the animation and includes things such as the script, storyboarding, animatic, character design, and location design and model sheet. The pre-production set up everything moving forward giving you a blue print on how to move forward in the production section. If it is not done well there will be a lot of retakes and corrections to be done in the production process and it will be very costly in terms of time, effort and money.
To start off every project starts with the idea development which is then transformed into a script/synopsis after an idea has been decided on. The script/synopsis is the written version of a project. the synopsis will usually just contain the story line and sometimes the location description while a script will include the former mentioned to higher degree of detail and will also include actions, dialogue, description of sound effects, etc. the script does not only contain dialogue and can contain images although many time it may only be dialogue and actions. The script or synopsis is usually where all the idea development will occur this is not always the case and not all stories will necessarily need a script.
Once the script is completed, the designer can start work. Before any animation, background or coloration can be done, the design needs to be addressed. The artist has to decide on the art style, colour, and location design and colour styling. They will also focus on model/character sheets. a model or character sheets is a precisely drawn groups of pictures that show all of the possible expressions that a character can make, and all of the many different poses that they could adopt. These sheets are created in order to both accurately maintain character detail and to keep the designs of the characters uniform whilst different animators are working on them across several shots.
Pre-production then moves onto the story board in which the main action in each scene is drawn in a comic book-like form. It is a visual representation of all the scenes and actions contained in the script. The dialogue, backgrounds, action notes and characters are included. The storyboard will be created at the same time as the characters, props, location design. The Storyboard helps to finalize the development of the storyline, and is an essential stage of the animation process. It is used to both help visualise the animation and to communicate ideas clearly. It details the scene and changes in the animation, often accompanied by text notes describing things occurring within the scene itself, such as camera movements. The first storyboard will not always be final one, as the designs are subject to changes during the beginning of the production. The storyboard is essential to the layout, the posing and the animatic. For 2D animation, the storyboard is done on paper.
Once the storyboards have been approved, they are sent to the layout department which then works closely with the director to design the locations and costumes. With this done they begin to stage the scenes, showing the various characters’ positions throughout the course of each shot.
this next step differs depending on the region in Japanese animation normally the animation is don before the audio as previously mentioned while in the west it is done
during the pre-production stage. For the most part though the voice actors will read the lines from the script and record the dialogue. These voices will be used later on for the animatic, the animation and the final production compositing.
The animatic is the first movie of a project and is used to help the animators and compositors. In order to give a better idea of the motion and timing of complex animation sequences and VFX-heavy scenes, the pre-visualization department within the VFX studio creates simplified mock-ups shortly after the storyboarding process. He storyboard is scanned in and mounted with sounds and dialogue. There is no animation yet. It is simply the storyboard frames changing panel by panel with dialogues and some sound effects to help evaluate the rhythm and the look of the show. These help the Director plan how they will go about staging the above sequences, as well as how visual effects will be integrated into the final shot.
After all this has been accomplished you can move onto the production phase this includes the background layout and posting, animation, digital background, clean-up-in between, scanning (if traditional), ink and paint, compositing and export rendering.
First you usually start out with the lay out depending on the animation. The Layout Artist is responsible for composing the shot and delivering rough animation to the animators as a guide. The layout artist does this by using the storyboard to prepare an organized folder for an animator. This folder contains a field guide that shows the proper camera move, the right size of the scene, the effects, backgrounds and all the other information necessary to the animator.
Once the background layouts are completed, they are ready to be painted. The background painter will take the final layout and paint them using the colour palettes created by the colour stylists. Once that is done it is sent to the composition team.
Once all that is done the animators can start animating and creating the scenes. When it comes to the animation in 2d usually someone will draw the key frames using a drawing tablet (or paper if using traditional method) then another animator will draw the in between frames. Each frame is a single drawing and once that drawing is complete it is referred to as a cell. for example a key animator will draw frame A to E and the in between artist will draw frame B, C and D. the ratio of key frames to in between frames largely vary depending on budget. Meaning that if for example an average 20 minute episode of a cartoon will usually have a total of 18000-24000 frames that means that’s how many cels have been done.
Once the frames are drawn they are passed on to be cleaned and have coloured applied using digital paint software this is where they become cels. Once the drawings are cleaned, inked and painted, they are ready for compositing.
The compositor then imports the coloured background, the animatic reference and the sound as required. Referring to the exposure sheet, the animatic and the animation, the compositor assembles all of these elements and creates the camera moves and other necessary motions. Finally the compositor goes on to add any digital effects required by the scene. These can include anything from tones, highlights and shadows.
When the compositing is finished, the final step is rendering. This will usually be done by the same person who done the composition.
After that is all complete we enter the post production phase this when you add the musical scoring, sound effects and editing ready to output to media.
A musical score is an original music written specifically to accompany a film. The score will forms part of the film’s soundtrack, which usually includes dialogue and sound effects. This is comprised of a number of orchestral, instrumental or choral pieces called cues which are timed to begin and end at specific points during the film in order to enhance the dramatic narrative and the emotional impact of the scene in question. Sound effects or audio effects are also artificially created, enhanced sounds or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content or films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media.
once sound is complete there is only the finally pieces of editing such as colour grading etc. it is is choosing segments of the animation production footage, sound effects and sound recordings in the post-production process that will be in the final output.
During my research I decided to look at the classic Japanese animation that air. It is a sci-fi anime film which came out in 1988. It is based on the manga air. The story is set in a dystopian, cyberpunk-themed Tokyo in 2019; Akira tells the story of Shotaro Kaneda, a leader of a local biker gang who must stop his friend Tetsuo Shima from using his newly awakened superpowers to release the titular esper.
The film developed a large cult following since its theatrical release, and is widely considered to be a landmark in Japanese animation. It is considered by many critics to be one of the greatest animated and science fiction movies of all time. This was one of the first Japanese anime films to have the character’s voices recorded before they were animated. While this is the typical practice in U.S. animation, in Japan the animation is generally produced first.
During that time most anime was notorious for cutting production corners with limited animation, such as having only the characters’ mouths move with basic lip sync while their faces remained static. Akira broke from that trend with detailed scenes, dialogue which was recorded before the film started production and the movements of the characters’ lips are animated to match it; a first for an anime production, although the voice actors did perform with the aid of animatic), and super-fluid motion as realized in the film’s more than 160,000 animation cels.
refrences for animation production