Storyboarding workflow

I’m starting up a new set of tutorials and wanted some input from other storyboarders. The first tutorial covers the workflow. I covered the traditional workflow, but the tutorials are going to be specific to Toonboom. Can you look the article over (I’ve copied it below) and let me know if there’s anything specific to Storyboard that I should add in?


Before jumping into the details of animating with Toonboom Storyboard and Animate Pro, let’s discuss the workflow from idea to finished movie. It’s essential to understand the workflow because animation is a creative process. Adhering to a well-structured process will minimize the amount of time, money and energy wasted on rework.

Some people will refer to the process as the “pipeline.” The analogy is that activity, like oil flowing through a pipe, moves in a single direction. We prefer the term “workflow” because in reality, the activities branch and sometimes circle back.

Here are the major steps in the workflow that we will use in these lessons:

character design
sound effects
post processing
finished product

The idea is our starting point. It can be as simple as a school assignment (“Prof said to animate a walk cycle”) or as complicated as a full-blown movie.

Once the idea is in place, work begins on the screenplay. The screenplay (or script) describes the location of each scene, which is needed for drawing backgrounds, as well as the action and dialogue.

After the script has been accepted, work begins recording the dialogue. The dialogue will be used by the storyboard team to create the animatics and by the shot editors to time the action. Of course, it will also be added to the final product.

The storyboard graphically lays out the script. The storyboard artist creates a sequence of panels that follow the script and provides a picture of the events as they will appear in the animation. To save money and time, the storyboards are usually very simple.

After the panels are completed, they are converted into animatics. An advantage of Toonboom’s Storyboard Pro is that it can integrate both dialogue and a sound track as well as camera moves so that the team can get a good sense of the timing and how well the story flows. If issues are found, the script or scene will be reworked. Rework at this point is significantly cheaper than later on.

Note that on some animation projects, the storyboard completely replaces the script. For our workflow, though, we keep them separate.

Our workflow has character design following storyboarding, but they are usually worked in parallel. The design team works out the look and style of the characters as well as the colors used. The team also sketches out the backgrounds to show the animators the style to be used. Final designs are rarely reworked into the storyboards. Instead they’re used by the animation team.

The animation team starts by building roughs (some teams call them line tests or pencil tests). The roughs are used to show the major elements of the scene/shot. They are built quickly so that the director can be sure that the animation team shares the same vision.

Ideally, the roughs replace shots in the animatics reel as they’re completed. This way there’s something for the production team to review at the end of the day. Additionally, they can be shared with clients or investors.

After each rough is approved, an animator begins working on the cleanup. This is the most labor intensive part for the animation team since it requires reworking the roughs to match the character design, adding color, lip-synching and camera moves to the shot. The animator works hard to deliver the shot that the audience will finally see.

As with the roughs, the cleaned up shots should be spliced into the animatics. As more of the shots are completed, the result approaches the finished product. At this point, rework due to script changes is extremely expensive.

The final step is post processing. This involves editing all of the shots together, integrating the sound track and audio, building scene transitions such as fade in or our for a more cinematic experience, and adding in special effects that are too difficult to do directly in Animate Pro.

I am trying to think of anything you may have missed but it seems like you’ve got it all covered MD. I hope you make a PDF with screen shots and what not.
Great job.