Although many assume that adding animation is the most time-consuming part of creating this content, animated videos consist of numerous complex elements. Each of these individual elements require a precise, targeted approach, with a keen eye for brand identity and your campaign’s KPIs. Writing for animation is a deceptively challenging part of the process. This isn’t something you can just scribble down on the back of a napkin! Below, we’ve shared everything that you need to know for successful writing for animation.
What is the importance of a well-developed script in animation?
The importance of ensuring content is engaging cannot be overstated.
The average attention span for humans is 8.25 seconds. In less than 10 seconds, you run the risk of viewers getting bored, losing focus, or moving onto something else.
And, when around 82% of global internet traffic comes from video streaming and video downloads, there’s plenty of other content out there for them to choose instead.
As you can see, viewers have access to endless videos on their digital channels. So, in order to achieve the results you’re hoping for, yours needs to stand out from the crowd.
And, to do this successfully, every element of your video needs to be designed with a careful eye for detail. Only then can you hit the high notes of engagement.
A well-developed script in animation is critical, as the very foundation of your video. Without it, your plot will be less clear, and your content less easy to follow. What’s more, your CTA will be weakened, and your engagement rates will suffer.
The script is the cornerstone of the video, and the glue that holds all the other elements together.
No matter how creative or entertaining the rest of the elements are, if your script feels weak, underdeveloped, inarticulate or unbelievable, then the animation will fall flat.
What are the key elements of a compelling animation script?
The key elements that contribute to compelling writing for animation include:
- A clear structure - typically, animation videos follow the classic narrative arc of beginning, conflict and resolution. This is an effective, seamless way to give your video a structure that is logical and easy to follow. But, whatever structure you choose, your story should be clear, make chronological sense, and take the reader through a logical series of events, towards the final conclusion.
- Conflict and resolution - building on the point above, including a moment of conflict and concluding with its resolution is a fantastic way to keep your audience engaged, right the way through to the end. The conflict doesn’t have to be a battle with a dragon, it could be a work-based obstacle that your service offers a solution to, or a relatable personal solution, with humour at its foundation.
- Engaging dialogue - if you have speaking characters (either speaking to the audience or each other) their dialogue needs to feel believable. Otherwise, the video can feel jarring, and quickly put viewers off. So, first and foremost, ensure your dialogue resembles real human speech. Then, you can bring in elements of humour or gripping moments, but without compromising the dialogue’s believability. Review and feedback sessions - with your internal team members, and ideally external test viewers, too - will be critical here.
- Visual descriptions - your script should align closely with the visual elements of the animation. It should either help the viewer to make sense of what they are seeing, or even serve to describe the visual elements themselves. A great example can be seen in our video for UCI, explaining how to understand the symptoms of a concussion. The voiceover describes the relevance of what the viewer is seeing, and how they can best handle this situation, if they experience it in real life.
- Character development - even in a short 90 second animation, your characters shouldn’t remain stagnant. In the best animations, the characters develop alongside the story, and experience some positive change as a result of the narrative events.
- Emotional depth - compelling content and an emotional appeal go hand in hand. Whatever emotion you are looking to evoke, aiming to strike an emotional chord with your viewers is one of the best ways to make your content memorable and engaging.
- Humour (if applicable) - although notoriously tricky to deploy, if you get it right, humour can prove an invaluable addition to your video content. It keeps the video light and fun to watch, while also building a relatable, personable brand identity.
- Pacing - engaging content doesn’t depend on constantly rapid, quick-fire events. Going at full speed doesn’t generate the best results. In reality, there’s an art to pacing, and it’s the script that dictates the pace throughout your video.
How to create memorable characters and dialogue
Many of the most successful branded video campaigns rely on lovable, entertaining and memorable characters.
For creators, these characters need to be genuinely fun for your audience to watch, while also harmonising seamlessly with your existing brand identity. That way, you can ensure your content generates the best possible results.
When you are creating an animated character and writing their dialogue, we recommend considering the following key points:
- What target audience will be seeing the animated character?
- What does the character need to look like to match the brand?
- What does the lead character need to look like to represent the business?
- When they see this character, what impression do you want it to create amongst your audience?
If you’re keen to find out more about the design process for animated characters, check out our dedicated article on how to create an animated character.
What are the dos and don'ts of animation scriptwriting?
- Create engaging characters - these need to strike a chord with your audience, either through humour or emotional resonance. They should also feel relatable for your viewers.
- Write clear and concise content - striking the right balance with your script, keeping it neat and succinct, while still being creative and engaging.
- Devise effective dialogue - conversations between characters that are not only entertaining, but are also realistic, believable and easy to follow.
- Consider animation constraints - think carefully about what risks holding your content back, then implement the right strategies to avoid them. This could include achieving a consistent brand identity, achieving a professional finish, and ensuring everything is completed in time.
- Use visual storytelling - if your story is dependent on the voiceover to make sense, then it’ll most likely feel forced or heavy handed. Instead, your story should use creative, entertaining and crisp visual elements (supported with audio content) to effectively tell your story.
- Balance dialogue and action - ensure your story isn’t too fast-paced. Although you may think that this will help boost engagement, in reality, your animation will feel overwhelming, and you’ll unbalance the usual narrative arc.
- Collaborate with animators - by working with professional animators, you can ensure that your video is creative enough to stand out from the crowd, and achieves a high quality finish, which fosters your brand image.
- Overload with dialogue - avoid writing an unnecessarily long script, as this will detract from the animation’s visual elements, and make the content much harder for your audience to follow.
- Ignoring animation limitations - all mediums have their limitations, and that includes animation. Carefully consider the respective strengths and weaknesses of the different types of video content, and find the best fit for your requirements.
- Lack of clarity - this is one of the most common reasons why video marketing campaigns fail. You need to ensure that both your narrative and your CTA are clear and easy for your entire audience (regardless of their previous familiarity with your brand) to follow.
- Excessive detail - building on the point above, when writing for animation, you need to understand exactly how much detail to include. Too little and it won’t be engaging or original enough, too much, and it will be too difficult to follow, or will leave your story feeling rushed.
- Neglecting character development - your characters need to be relatable and engaging, which means they need to gradually develop throughout the course of the video.
- Skipping pre-production - the pre-production phase is a critical part of the animation process, which secures a high quality, seamless and entertaining end result.
- Ignoring target audience - researching your target audience, and understanding the types of content that they want to see, is crucial to ensuring your content hits its KPIs.
What's the importance of feedback and revisions in scriptwriting?
Although it adds an extra step to your creative process, hosting feedback and revision sessions will dramatically improve the quality of your script.
By getting feedback - both from the creative minds within your team, and external people, who aren’t otherwise familiar with your brand or the campaign you’re creating - you can evolve and perfect your script.
The key benefits of feedback and revisions when writing for animation include:
- Ensuring you access fresh perspectives
- Helping you to catch potential errors, flaws or weaknesses (which you otherwise might have missed)
- Confirming that your content is easy to understand, for a wide range of viewers
- Helping you to gauge how successfully you are engaging your audience
- If you are aiming to strike an emotional chord with your viewers, determining how effective your emotive content is
- Assessing how relatable the characters are
- Checking that the dialogue feels realistic and authentic
- Allowing you to develop your characters, in the most effective ways
- Determining how likely viewers are to follow your intended CTA, after watching the video
- Helping you to continue revising and refining your script
As you can see, writing for animation should not be treated like the ‘quick fix’, ‘easy finish’ part of the animation process.
In fact, just like every other component, successfully engaging your audience requires a carefully crafted script, which is succinct, clear, entertaining, and aligned with the brand’s tone of voice.
Why work with an animation agency like OK Social?
OK Social is a renowned motion graphic studio, specialising in the design and production of knock-out animated videos.
Our highly skilled animation team has experience in all steps of the process, including everything from writing for animation, to illustrating bold motion graphics.
Our reputation for producing engaging, creative and firmly on-brand has meant we’ve been chosen to create videos for some of the world’s largest brands, including the likes of Ford, Deliveroo, Coca-Cola and the BBC.
So, to find out more about any of our animation services, don’t hesitate to get in touch.