We’ve just delivered on a tight deadline video for one of our regular clients, to explain their proposition to their potential client in a meeting. The call came on the Thursday. Could we deliver for Wednesday? We took a breath. And got to work.
Timeline of a Tight Deadline Video
We got the call and an email with a PowerPoint that explained the proposition. I read through the materials, and got my head around what they were asking for. Cracked on with a first draft of the script, delivered by close of play.
I had a call with the stakeholders, and went through the script. They helped flesh out the details, bringing in clarity to the bits I’d kind of made up. They also brought in technical terms that I didn’t know, but would show to their client they knew what they were talking about.
I then briefed Johnny, one of our illustrators, with the brush strokes of the story. We knew it was set on a train, so he started with a carriage and some people sitting on it! He decided to build the train in 3D in the first instance. When we needed other angles, he was able to rotate the 3D model and redraw.
From this schematic, he could then draw the carriage in his inimitable style.
I then worked on the script and sketched some quick storyboards.
Meanwhile, Simran then started working on some of the technical scenes, which would need some thought.
Johnny also worked on character development, from quick sketches…
…through to something more detailed. By the end of the day, we were able to show a few design and quick animations to the client to give them a flavour of what we were doing.
Over the weekend, Johnny drew like crazy, creating layered art work so we could start work on Monday morning. I checked in with him regularly, to keep his work on target. It’s always nice to give an illustrator free reign, and see where their imagination gets to, but for this job we didn’t have time for him to stray too far from what I imagined. By Sunday night, we had the key scenes drawn up. Our tight deadline video was on schedule.
All hands on deck. First we went through the storyboards as a team, so we all knew what we’re doing. Simran and Yair started working on the animation. Johnny carried on designing, with new builds. One thing we were clear on; we knew we want to add more details to the scenes but the priority was to get all of them complete in a simple form. Then we can look at how much time we have to finesse.
We got the first assembly complete just after lunch. All scenes were in there, even if they’re just stills. Another script call, and we get the script signed off. They reviewed the first assembly and we started on the changes. We made sure everyone in the NC team notes all the changes, as a change in one scene can have an impact on later ones.
I headed to the voice over record at 5. With the tight turnaround, I’d offered my services as the voice, to save having to cast a voice artist, and I know the script well. So by 5.45 I’d left the booth and I’m cycling back, while the chosen takes were whizzing back to the studio via WeTransfer.
Johnny finished up his designs, having added a cast of thousands to the train scenes. Simran and Yair stayed on late, tweaking the animations. I started adding my voice to the timeline. By 8pm, we’re sending the client a really sturdy version for their comments. Oh, and we prepared the sound files, so Joel can start building the sound effects overnight.
We were back in the studio super early. We had more client changes, all fairly straight forward. We were now at the stage where we could sprinkle on a little more magic, adding a few more facial expressions and speed lines outside the train window. We used a great Deadpool camera plug in on the train scenes, which gives the carriage interior shots the feeling that you’re on the train with the characters. We had whole conversations about what kind of people travel on trains and why are they on their journey, which means we add suitcases and dogs in the aisle, newspapers and all sorts.
The client signed off on a version around 2pm, so we know we’ve delivered what they need. We now have the rest of the afternoon and evening to surprise them with a little more sparkle still. We start working on the extras – giving them a bit more movement in the background, adding more each scene.
Late afternoon, Joel delivered the sound files, with voice over, music and sound effects all mixed nicely together. We bit off more than we could chew on one scene, which ended up taking way longer than we planned.
We delivered the final file around 6.30 pm, which the clients love. Plenty of new details, some they might not even have noticed, but all of which add to the feel of quality of the film.
So that’s how we achieved a tight deadline video. I have to say that I was super impressed by what the Napoleon Creative team pulled together, in such a short time. I think setting it on a train was a great idea, as it’s an environment we all know and relate to. This made it easy for us to make it feel very real quickly. It also helps that over the decade of making animation, we’ve got our process down, and can quickly jump on a project. So if you have a tight deadline video, you know who to call!