An animatic is a timed moving version of the storyboard made up of individual frames taken from the storyboard and is often accompanied by audio such as dialogue, sound effects and music. It is a cheap and convincing method to present an on screen impression of an animation and as such is a useful way to present ideas. Each frame of the animatic depicts a certain key point of the scene or movie. The running time should match the intended running time of the final animation.

For the experienced animator the animatic provides the opportunity to assess the timing of movement and soundtrack. Shortening or lengthening how long each image is seen on screen helps to demonstrate the pace of the animation. Finally the animatic can assist with decisions regarding scenes to include or exclude. On a commercial project this is very important as it avoids wastage of time and money during production.

The difference between live action and animation.

We all enjoy the outtakes from live action movies. Actors are forever forgetting their lines, tripping over things on set or generally messing-up. Too much messing-up and the studio will begin to count the cost but in general it's budgeted for. Sometimes the studio may have shot some additional scenes that simply never make it into the movie. They were possibly always meant to appear in the final piece and would have been included in an animatic.

In contrast an animated movie will never have outtakes and will rarely have abandoned scenes. For this reason the animatic plays a significant role in the planning of the film. Many directors regard the making of the animatic the stage at which the film is edited.

Although outtakes never occur that doesn't mean animators don't occassionaly plan them for our amusement. Pixar features a string of beautifully crafted outtakes at the end of Toy Story 2. Although planned, the effect of the outtakes is not only very amusing it serves to humanise the characters in such a way that we're fooled into appreciating them as real.

Try it for yourself...

The animatic for 'Minty Cool Minty Cool' below, shows some of the key events and changes in the animation coupled with the soundtrack. Press the play button to see the animatic in real time. You can also click on the indivdual frames, this provides an additional sense of movement.

And now for something literally Incredible

Still image from an animatic produced for The IncrediblesAs we've already learnt the Animatic is of key importance to the production of the animation. it demonstrates timing, transitions, sound and a sense of the final edit. So it follows that the bigger the production the more elaborate the animatic becomes, so much so that animatics can be an artform in themselves.

Before moving on, click here and feast your eyes on an animatic depicting a chase scene from Pixar's, The Incredibles.

  1. What is Pre-production?
  2. Storyboard
  3. Character Design
  4. Animatic
How to use this Tutorial