Here is a 10-point checklist to help you choose the best 3D Animation and Video production company for your project. It ceases to be a tricky risky decision when you know what to look for and when you are armed with just the right questions.
1. Size does matter
To do justice to your budget it is important to pick the right type and size of 3D animation or video production company. So just what is out there?
Large production companies thrive on luxurious budgets and big ongoing projects. They work with expensive resources and a big staff and all that comes with just as big overhead costs. Great for big extensive 3D animation or video projects. Certainly not suitable for small or medium sized budgets.
Medium sized production houses are more nimble, dexterous and willing. They may also be competitive on the price factor as they are compelled to remain lean. They cut costs by ‘not’ owning big studios or employing teams of people. Instead they may be a set of partners or a network of 3D animation and video professionals who get together as and when projects demand. The quality of their output purely depends on the quality of people in their network. So before taking your pick your challenge will be to find out more about them.
Then we have the part-time individual professionals. These professionals can underbid everyone else across the 3D Animation and Video production industry. This is because they are usually already employed elsewhere and are looking to make some extra money in their free time. Depending on their individual talent, you may take them up to do part of the work such as create storyboards or write scripts. Their ability to comprehend corporate vision in its entirety or your marketing and creative strategies or execute entire pre-production, production and post are usually limited. And that will show in the quality of output.
2. Watch demo reels and compare
The one thing that you must look for and compare in any demo reel is the complexity and finesse of imagery. Demo reels usually show little else. If you need to further understand a production company’s creativity, their story-telling abilities or their way of simplifying complex ideas for audiences, then watch one of their complete videos and pay attention to the story, script, voice, visuals and the overall effect. No matter what your specific subject matter is, a 3D Animation and video production company with a great looking show reel or portfolio should be able to deliver a great film, unless they specify that they cannot. Remember they are in the business of making the film. The only thing that changes with each project is the subject matter expert. The rest of the production process always remains the same.
3. Get team details
Ask upfront about who, how many and what profile of people will be working on your project. Their answer must assure you that your project is being given the adequate attention and involvement it needs. The number of professionals they choose to work on your project will depend entirely on the nature and scope of the project itself. For example a 3-minute 3D animation product demo, if made from scratch would need
1. A subject matter expert to take the brief from you.
2. Script writer
3. Illustrator to create storyboards
4. 3D modelers
5. Voice artists
6. Animation experts
For complex ideas or products such as medical devices, 3D animation production companies usually prefer to get a written script from the client. Which is not a bad idea at all as the project is clear when complex technical details come from the experts closest to the product. In this case lesser people are involved and the production cycle is shorter and tighter.
4. Have them walk through a past work project
This is the best way to know what work channel your project will go through. Even if the past project may be different in scope and subject matter, the general process of work will remain more or less the same. By going through their work process you will know what communication to expect from them and how cued-in will you be in the production process. Will they involve you every step of the way in an set approval process or will the final 3D animation video be delivered all at one go in the end. A been-there-done-that-this-way will help a great deal in understanding a 3D animation and video production company’s approach to your project.
5. Ask for their work process document
Every decent sized 3D Animation and Video production company will have one. A work process document will specify the various steps they will take to produce your video. It may have details like agenda of initial meetings, at what stage will the storyboards be ready, approval processes etc. Go through it and see if it suits you and your team’s work process for the project. Ask questions and suggest changes if any.
6. Look for frequent fresh ideas
How willing and open are they to experiment and try new things while discussing your project? Are they proactive even before getting the project? Do they instinctively generate ideas to make yours a better looking and more effective video? They may not have begun work on it but what you may look for is their attitude towards their work. If they are an excited bunch, they wont stop themselves from thinking about adding value right from the beginning.
7. Judge by speed and quality of response
A good way to predict the nature of things to come from a 3D Animation and video production company is the initial speed and quality of their responses. Quick replies usually mean they are in the habit of giving prompt service. Detailed, informative replies usually mean that they will not cut corners and will go that extra mile to make your project successful. It also means their internal processes are in place. This can’t be called a foolproof method of prediction but is definitely a good indicator.
8. Production details and more details
Make sure the 3d animation or video production company keeps the production process transparent right from the beginning. There are ways to cut corners while making a 3D animation video as well as with video production. Make sure you have the details like the number of cameras to be used in the shoot, number of people being involved and paid, (cameras can be manned or unmanned!) or quality of the 3d animation that matches a reference material of the past.
On the other hand, as transparency is a two way process, the project if not worked out in utmost detail might throw in surprises. More demands from the client in the middle of the production process may force the production company to cut corners. So it is best in both parties’ interest that project details be worked out and understood in the most detailed way possible before work begins.
9. Compare price but only so much
As with shopping anywhere, it is always good to compare prices. It is good to know what’s out there. It helps you protect your budget and get the best out of it. However, do keep in mind the old adage – one gets what one pays for. Some 3D animation production companies may seem to charge way more than others but they have good reason to. One look at their output and we all will know why. They will not compromise on the quality of their 3D animation videos no matter what. And producing 3D animation videos is an expensive, time-taking and tedious process. On the other hand some companies may send in inflated quotes while their output may not justify the price tag. This is where you need to be alert and apply all the points above to discern their ability to deliver a great product.
10. Your single point contact
3D animation or video production even if it is for education and training) at some level is a creative process. And so clear precise communication between you the client and the production team is of utmost importance.
The 3d animation and video production company may assign one or two people to work with you on a daily basis. One of them may be a subject matter expert if your project is complex enough to require one. It is important to know their profiles and establish a rapport with them. Know if it is going to be an account executive or the producer himself. In any case the person closest tot he producer will be the best bet. Know him well and you will be able to see your project through smoothly.