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Making a promotional film

How do I make a short animation or film?

Category: CommunicationName: Laura Evans, Communications Officer
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Why?

Films and animations are a good way of communicating complicated information or making dull subjects more entertaining. Increasing internet speeds, access to computers and the ability to share videos on social media make communicating through film more effective than ever. There are lots of different approaches: interview style, documentary, home-made, professional animation, funny, 30 second, feature-length.  Choose an approach you think will connect with your particular audience.

The Celtic Seas Partnership produced a popular animation on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and three additional films which can be viewed on our website.

Step by Step

Once you have decided to make a film or animation:

  1. First step was to write a brief, and it is worth spending time to make sure this is right. The brief contained information on what we wanted the film to be about, what we wanted people to think, feel or do, who the audience is, how we wanted people to use the film, how many people we wanted to view the animation, what format we wanted the film to be delivered in. We asked them to supply two quotes for a basic version and a more expensive version.
  2. We sent out the brief to three companies that have a track record in this area. When we selected the companies, we picked the one that wasn’t the cheapest but it had the best idea and offered value for money.
  3. We developed a script by pulling together relevant content around the issue and highlighting the information that we definitely wanted to include. It is really important to make sure that the script is signed off by everyone, as it is very difficult and costly to make changes to the final version.
  4. We recorded a voice-over for the animation, using a Celtic accent because this was a voice that people could connect with.
  5. To promote the animation, we uploaded it to Vimeo and promoted it using Twitter and our e-newsletter. Before we launched it we contacted lots of relevant organisations who could share it for us. We also used WWF channels. We have used the animation at events, in presentations and on screens. Other organisations have asked us to use it themselves.
  6. Key to success was producing something that didn’t already exist, and it was presented in a way that was easy to engage with.

Top Tips

Use others to share and promote the film. A film can be expensive to produce but it becomes value for money if it is widely shared.  Put in place a good distribution plan. Think about what channels you have available and take advantage of your stakeholder network.

Have a launch date. Ahead of the launch we approached relevant organisations with a strong twitter presence and asked if they would share the animation with their followers. Most of the tweeting activity took place on one day which built up good momentum leading to a much greater reach than if we could have achieved on our own.

Does the film need to be in more than one language? As our project was in the UK, Ireland and France we needed to produce English and French versions so had to include time for translation and get that built into the contract.

Resources

Time

The time it takes to produce a film varies hugely depending on the type of film and a whole host of other factors. It could take a couple of weeks or months. You can agree your timeline with the agency that you choose and make sure you meet any deadline. Our three minute animation took four months to produce.

Developing a film can be quite time consuming. It requires a great deal of investment in the planning stage and there is a lot of time spent managing the relationship between the team and the agency. It’s not all bad though, lots of the things that you have to do are quite fun and creative.

People

The people involved should include: the communications officer/team, project manager to approve, key team members to provide expertise on content, an agency or contractor to do the work and your wider network of contacts to help you share the film.

Cost

Again this varies a lot depending on the style and type of film you choose. Animation can be more expensive to produce but if you choose a film you also have to consider expenses for travel etc. If you are constrained by budget you could do some simple films yourself. To support the animation we produced we did some simple interviews using a handheld camcorder (you could use a smartphone) and edited these using iMovie. The finish wasn’t professional at all, but the content was still interesting for our stakeholders to hear.  The animation was around 10,000 Euros.