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Arts & Entertainment

How to Create an Animatic for Your Next Film in 5 Steps

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Dec 1, 2020 • 2 min read

An animatic is an animated storyboard—a sequence of images set to music that provides a preview of a film.

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Animatics are a useful tool in the pre-production process that allows filmmakers to create a rough, animated cut of a movie before production begins.

What Is an Animatic?

An animatic is an animated storyboard—a slideshow of images depicting movement. To create an animatic, storyboard images are cut together to make a rough draft animation, usually with sound effects or music, giving filmmakers an idea of what the final animation or live-action sequence will look like. Animatics often contain character and camera movements, as well as transitions.

What Is the Purpose of an Animatic?

An animatic is a pre-production tool used to convey timing and show how a story sequence will play out with music, sound effects, or dialogue. This animated series of images brings the storyboard to life in video format, helping filmmakers get a better visual of their scenes’ pacing, revealing any timing changes or adjustments that are needed.

Making films, especially animated movies, is a time-consuming process, and animatics can help cut down on how long it takes to reach a polished, final product. Animatics are primarily used in the making of animated films, though live-action filmmakers also use the tool to map out complex scenes.

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How to Make an Animatic

Animatics turn storyboard pictures into moving images. To create your own animatic:

  1. Upload your storyboard. To begin the process of making your own animatic, you’ll need to upload your storyboards into video-editing software.
  2. Create a timeline. Next, you’ll need to establish the length of each animatic as it corresponds to your film. If your film is 90 minutes long, you can use the animatics to plot out the timing of each scene so you don’t go over the desired length of your film when shooting begins.
  3. Add sound. Adding dialogue and sound into your animatics will help you better visualize your scenes, edit out unnecessary beats, and create better timing and pace for your film before it even enters production.
  4. Highlight character movement. Animatics are not the smooth, rendered animation sequences you see on television or in theaters—they are derived from storyboard images, quickly produced, and often choppy with low resolution. You’ll need to add arrows to your animatic to show the character’s on-screen movement.
  5. Highlight camera movement. Animatics can also show how the camera moves during a scene. Add arrows to your animatic to indicate specific directorial shots, like dolly movements or transitional effects, to give a more detailed idea of how the finished product will play out.

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