Welcome to Part 2 of our Remote Production Guide. In Part 1 (which you can read here), we covered some of the tools we use to keep the studio running on a larger operational level, but here, we’ll be talking about the creative collaboration tools we use to tackle individual projects, from discovery to delivery. We’ve even got a real-life case study to use for example — our newly released Christmas in July project for Shriners Hospitals for Children. Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Discovery

As our Creative Director, it’s Josh who meets with the Client (via Google Hangout or over the phone) to go over what they hope accomplish: messaging takeaways, audience, total run-time, live-action components, project timeline, budget etc. The client is the expert on the subject matter, and we want to ask smart questions so that we can educate ourselves and use our creativity most effectively to make something great together.

Step 2: Scheduling

Shriners Instagantt scheduling each stage of production.

Fearless producer Sam dons his noise-cancelling headphones and boots up Asana and Instagantt. He lays out the schedule for each phase based on the project’s total run-time, and then works with the team to schedule freelancers as needed. These two programs work in tandem, so what is inputted into Instagantt connects to Asana, which ultimately gives each team member their individual list of tasks and due dates.

Step 3: Script

We leave Josh alone for a couple of days so can synthesize the information he gathered during his Discovery meeting and turn it into a Planet Nutshell-worthy script aka one that is succinct, clear, and fun. Depending on the project and the required voice, he may also work with a freelance writer. Both Josh and our freelance writers use Google Docs for quick collaboration.

Step 4: Storyboard

Storyboard frames with the script divided into cells with initial drawings.

Once the script is finalized and approved by the client, we have a storyboard meeting and put the script into Boords, an online storyboarding software platform. We draw out each frame and include description of each shot as well as arrows to illustrate camera movement. We love that Boords is client-friendly; we can send the storyboard directly through their platform to the client for feedback and approval.

Step 5: Style Frames

Two style frames showing the look before diving into the full design.

Using the client’s brand guideline as well as our learnings from the Discovery meeting, we create an illustration style and provide client with 2-3 style frames. This gives the client an opportunity to make any tweaks before we dive into the full design.

Our in-house team and our freelancers use Adobe Illustrator, and for seamless remote communication, we rely on Dropbox and Slack.

Step 6: Design

Designing the beach scenes.

Once the style frames are approved, it’s full steam ahead for our designer to tackle the rest of the frames with the approved design style, including characters, backgrounds, props etc.

Step 7: Voiceover

While everything is being designed, Josh and Sam cast a voiceover actor and direct the recording session via phone patch, directly into the talent’s home recording booth. The talent sends over the recorded files, Sam throws the raw files into Adobe Premiere, we choose the best takes, then edit and export via DropBox to the larger team.

Step 8: Animation

Animating the motion graphics in After Effects.

Phew! We finally made it to animation!

Our animators both in-house and out take the design files and, using the voiceover for timing, dive into animation using Adobe AfterEffects (for motion graphics) and Animate (for character animation). We use DropBox and Slack to share the work internally, then assemble the pieces together into one file.

Step 9: Client Review

Vimeo Review page with Client comments.

We send the rough cut off to the Client for approval using Vimeo Review, where the Client is able to make timecode specific comments, streamlining the process immensely!

Step 10: Sound Design

We also send the rough cut off to our sound design freelancers (shout out to Taiko Sound!) who create the audio landscape, making the animation truly come to life. For music, we choose a song that fits the tone of the animation, and download a preview file for client approvals. After approval, we purchase the full track. We’re fans of Premium Beat!

Step 11: Sharing our Work

Shriners campaign website featuring our artwork!

Once the sound design is final and the animation has been approved, we edit them together in Adobe Premiere and export the shiny new video.

We send the video to the client, and it is ready for them to share on their website, social media and anywhere they want, for all the world to see! Then we upload to our Vimeo page and website, schedule it for Instagram and Facebook, and cheer “HOORAY!” for a few minutes before diving back into the other animations we’re working on.