“A goal without a plan, is just a wish.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Your animated video in 8 steps

Great! You came here to find out how Zologie tackles an animation production. The recipe for a great video is pretty straightforward: it’s all about getting the ingredients right and adding them in the right order.

But let’s make all this more concrete and dive straight into our production case. ⬇️

Production case: “Manifesto for mobility”

We realised this project with FIA Region I in the light of the European elections of 2019, together with their Communications Manager Valentina Ferrara and her team. Let’s guide you through this project from concept to finished video. 

Kick-off meeting

First, we had a kick-off meeting at the FIA Region I headquarters in Brussels. Valentina and her team were well prepared and completely outlined the content they wanted to put in their video. Always great to start from! Goals were set, content cleared out, estimate agreed upon. Time to start!

Receiving valuable and hands-on information about the topic of the video is essential and speeds up the process. This can be done during or shortly after the kick-off meeting.

Explainer video kick-off meeting

Research and Voice-over script

Based on the preparations of Valentina’s team, we worked on a first draft of the voice-over script. This is the actual text the voice-over artist will perform and record in step 5. After some fine tuning, we agreed upon a final version of the script. 

The script is the backbone of the video. It determines the content and timing of the animation and has to be crystal clear. We research the topic and our copywriter oversees and guards the entire writing process.

Social media animation video concept


With the script in hand, we prepared the video timeline in a storyboard. Shot by shot and phrase by phrase we sketched the action we would be seeing in the final animation. This particular video was a 3-minute-long animation with 6 chapters, so we had to make sure it remained interesting until the end. Another challenge: the 6 chapters would also become 6 short standalone videos. So we needed to pay attention that all 6 would be relevant when viewed separately. 

In this stage we define what we show, when we show it and what we hear. The storyboard is the foundation for step 4: creating the illustrations that will be used in the animation.

Explainer video story boarding on iPad Pro

Styleframe and Illustrations

This was the third video we made for FIA Region I, so we already had developed a visual style. We used this look as a starting point for the new production, but we wanted to take it a bit further. By adding faux-3D to the characters and some interesting point-of-views with dynamic split screens, we both enforced and built upon the existing style.

All the artwork for the animated video is created in Adobe Illustrator. The client’s corporate style serves as a visual style guide. We always try to expand on that, while keeping the spirit and recognisability of the corporate visual style. Before we start illustrating all of the assets, we create a styleframe to define the final visual style.

This step concludes the pre-production stage. Now it’s getting real!

Explainer video illustrating in Adobe Illustrator

Voice-over recording

Next, Valentina and her team selected a voice-over (VO) artist to read their script. Since the first two videos we made were narrated by Nicola, the team this time chose a male voice. We gave them some samples, and they selected Greg. He had worked for Zologie before so we knew his qualities. He has a serious and low tone-of-voice, which fitted perfectly with the message FIA Region I wanted to get out there.

In this stage you get to choose a voice from a range of examples. The voice is recorded in a sound studio, and mastered and mixed in step 7. For Flemish VOs, we have a couple of great voices that can come and record in our local studio. In that case, we encourage to be present when we tape the performance.

Explainer video voice-over recording

Animation production

With all the pieces of the puzzle in place, we finally started animating. It took us about a week to finish the first 3-minute-long version. The client was happy with the result, so we immediately began editing the six short versions mentioned in step 3.

When we start animating, everything is planned out and crystal clear. Now, it’s just a matter of creating a unique world of movement. We can still fine tune quite a lot in this process, because the style and speed of the movement adds to the general tone of the video. We always make sure there is a great synergy between the quality of the action and the message we are communicating with the video.

Explainer video animation production in After Effects

Audio production

With all 7 versions ready, sound wizard Tom was set loose on the sound effects and music. Once again a choice had to be made: the genre and type of music.
Tom proposed three tracks, of which the client selected one. This track was edited in, together with the sound effects and the mastered voice recording of Greg. The production was now finished!

Ah audio… the icing on the cake. In this final stage the animation really comes to life thanks to the added sound effects. A mood is strengthened by the music… The audiovisual composition reaches its final form: ready for step 8.

Explainer video audio production

Go out and play!

Since the EU 2019 elections took place in May 2019, Valentina and her team made sure the videos were released in good time. they were posted on their website and social channels, shared with their partners and member clubs. Making sure to reach as many decision makers as possible. Why? Simple! Because the future of our mobility depends on it. 🙂

After the entire process is done, we deliver a MP4 file. You can then use this file to upload the videos to your own distribution channels. If you ordered subtitles, they will be delivered as separate SRT files, which are recognised on all social platforms.

“We’re all very happy with the video!”

Valentina Ferrara, Communications Manager FIA Region I

5 tips for a fluent project

On average there is a lead time of about 4 weeks. Typically we spend 2 to 3 weeks on pre-production (steps 1 to 4) and 1 to 2 weeks on the actual production (steps 5 to 7). 

Pre-production is a very feedback-heavy stage. Take this into account when planning a project. 

Because we need feedback in every step of the process, our planning changes on a daily basis. But we always make sure the lead time is as short as possible. 

We only plan a project after a written approval of the total budget.

Throughout the project, we have several milestones. Once we pass them, we can’t go back. For example: if we have to change the script in step 6 we have to reset the whole project. This is not included in the estimated budgets.