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How to Write a Motion Graphics Design Or Animation Treatment
Give yourself the best chance of winning the Design or Animation project with these guidelines
Title & Introduction
The first thing you’ll type in any treatment is the project name, so it’s highly advisable to make sure you get this part correct. When making an outline, it’s always a good idea to take as detailed notes as possible about all aspects of the project including people involved, keywords, reference material, technical aspects or limitations, audio preferences and titles of project work. These notes will help you when laying the groundwork for a treatment and show your full understanding of the brief, such as the exact title or key words the client was trying to describe the project with.
Once you have a clean main page with the client name, project name and any subheadings, you are ready to add the first and most important piece of text, the introduction or approach.
The introduction, outline, premise, or approach to a treatment is a vital, concise 2- or 3-line paragraph that clearly tells the reader what they are about to read and why they are reading it. Ideally, this paragraph will ‘capture’ the reader immediately and change their interest, wanting to read the rest of the document.
Using descriptive language is an important part of the art of all writing, not least with treatments, where ideally you should squeeze all the information onto one or two sides of A4 paper to paint a clear picture to the eye. of the reader. what they can expect the final film or animation to look like.
When describing your concept, try to use fluent and elegant phrasing while being descriptive and precise. Extensive use of vocabulary will keep the reader interested and their brain visualizing the result.
For example, The Brief is for a title sequence of a TV crime drama and the director wants the style of the title sequence to reflect the period, atmosphere and subject of the script. The director can use quite descriptive words in a short way like, dark or cold, be sure to reuse these words in your treatment and add some of your own to embellish further. For example; Dark foreboding, or chilling, wobbly end of the spine.
Try not to repeat the same word too many times and think of alternative ways to describe the same or similar parts of the project. For example; when mentioning a transient effect in animation or film, try to find new ways to write about that effect.
Make sure the logo and branding of your business, company or studio is clearly marked on the front of the treatment as well as in the body of the treatment to ensure that everyone who reads it will know where it is from and who has it written. It will also help that your ideas remain your own and not borrowed from someone else. Another consideration is to flatten your document to ensure that the logo and graphics are displayed correctly and no one is able to modify your treatment or take paragraphs for reuse in another document. Saving your MS Word or other word processing document as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file is an ideal way to achieve this.
This is the main part of the text, where you can reflect the idea in more detail. It is important to make sure this paragraph is easy to read and accurate. Use this part of the treatment as a way to quickly outline the rest of the information you touched on eloquently in your introduction. Try to keep sentences short with enough space around them to be easily absorbed. Let the sentences flow together easily to ensure that the reader does not get lost in part, it is vital that your idea makes sense from start to finish giving your reader the opportunity to build the piece in their eye.
Consider including images to help your concept.
You’ll probably create a separate description for your treatment, but using additional reference images, illustrations of characters, environments and backgrounds, or mood board images in your treatment can really help the reader understand what you’re saying. Image positioning is also important, breaking up paragraphs can lose the flow of readers, so try adding an image or series of images below a paragraph.
Using a large image under the Introduction can act as a real eye-catcher for the rest of the document.
Reference material is essential to help sell your idea, especially if you can refer to your past work. It’s another opportunity to showcase your work and give the client any confidence in your ability to deliver what you’re writing about. References can be web links, embedded links, images, sounds, pieces of music, illustrations or videos. If possible, try to collect them all in one place, an ftp location, a website, a file sharing location, or as closed attachments to make it easy for the customer to explore your references and not have to go to many different websites. Again, keeping the treatment easy to read, follow and absorb is key.
The technical section of a treatment should be very factual, very short and very clear. Clarity will once again illustrate to the reader that you have thought through the process carefully and understand exactly what it will take to achieve the finished result. You’ll always be able to change your mind with the kit later, but at least at this early stage you’ve approached the idea with a way to technically create your masterpiece. This paragraph will also illustrate your ability to handle both aspects of any motion graphics project, creativity and technical knowledge, essential components for any motion graphics designer.
Consider describing what and how many computers you will need, how much disk storage and backup space will be required, what software packages you will use, and whether there are any specific plug-ins or presets that are relevant. Also consider the amount of rendering time and hardware that will be needed, archival considerations and final delivery formats, and other aspects of delivery.
Music and Audio
As we all know, music and sound effects can really bring animation and video to life and are a key part of any visual experience. Tap into ideas you have for music and sound design, include references to other videos of a similar style, and describe the tone and atmosphere the music will evoke with your visuals.
Budget and estimated costs
Costs and quotes are also a big factor in whether you will succeed in getting the project you want done, but don’t include any mention of money in the treatment. Instead, provide a separate quotation document including any reference to technical or creative specifications in the treatment.
Conclusion / Summary
The last part of your treatment should act similarly to the introduction.
It’s a short paragraph that allows you to quickly remind the reader of the main points you’ve discussed in the rest of the document. It’s also a chance to use good language to leave the reader wanting to see what you’ve described, wanting to explore further, wanting to bring it to life.
List of Components
INTRODUCTION – short and sweet
CONCEPT – the main descriptive body of the text
IMAGES – reference material
TECHNICAL – geeky but essential breakdown
AUDIO – style and reference guide
SUMMARY – the final summary
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