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Award Winning Design Blog

Part 1 – Asking the Right Questions

Client:  I know exactly what I want until I see something cooler!

Ideas are awesome. Having a client that knows exactly what they want can be helpful. Listen, then ask questions and make suggestions based on what you have learned. Some lead-off questions I like to use are:

  • What is the purpose of the visualization?
    • People want videos for many different reasons.  Most of the time it’s to showcase their creation, but a good rule of thumb is to never assume.
  • What resolution is the video? This matters because…
    • There are 24 frames in one second of rendered video
    • There is a 33% difference between 720p and 1080p
    • It therefore takes at LEAST 33% longer to render a 1080p frame than a 720p frame
    • The client needs to know this
    • There are 24 frames in one second of rendered video
  • If there is audio?  Is it a music track or VO (voice over)?
    • If VO – visuals must sync to what the narrator is saying. More people involved, more complicated = more time.
    • There is most likely a script floating around that you will need to see sooner than later.
    • Nail down a music track before you begin storyboarding
  • What part of the video are you responsible for?
    • Model conversion – How many models?
    • Materials
    • Animation
      • Just camera?
      • Cars/Trucks/Equipment/People?
    • Post Production
    • E) All of the above?
  • How long do you want the finished video to be?
    • Take into account that you may need to add some time to each shot for fades and cuts
    • Do not base your ETA on number of frames to render. Finished video time is always greater than the number of frames rendered.
    • Setup, animation, and rendering are just a few pieces in the whole project.

The clients answer to every one of these questions will have a significant impact on scope/time/budget. It’s crucial you get as many of these questions answered as possible.  The simplest assumptions can cost untold hours or rework. It is your job to lead your client through the process and any mis or non-communication will inevitably fall on your shoulders.

Ask the client for a written description of the project

It’s great for everyone to get their ideas on paper. Here is a very hasty, poorly written sample script: “We would like to fly in to the South door and highlight two pumps (P-101A, P-101B “T-100 BOTTOMS PUMP 1 and 2”) on the south side of the building.  Next we want to highlight the E-100 “REFLUX DRUM” then exit through the East door. As we round the corner, we see V-100 “REBOILER” – the tank will “wipe” away exposing the glycol inside. The tank should wipe back on as the camera then flies by the E-101 “Reboiler” and finish at the T-100 “FRACTIONATING TOWER”

Sweet! There is a script!

Congrats, you’re 3% there!  Now it’s time to visualize some of the awesome ideas that are in your head.  Doing this with hand drawn storyboards is a great way to present your ideas to the client for comment.

Storyboard, get comments, repeat

You don’t have to be an amazing artist to make a few storyboards.  Drawing storyboards will help you understand the shot and should generate a great deal of questions, comments, and suggestions. Here are some examples:

The storyboards should outline every camera cut and give an idea of camera movement and object(s) animation as well as any effects involved.  Be sure to get your clients sign off on your storyboards.  Changes are OK and they will understand the increase in scope if changes are made past the signoff process.

The Rest of the Story