How Animatic Is Used in Film and Animation

Turn your storyboard into a movie

Animation of stick figure elderly couple on chalkboard

Jasmin Merdan / Getty Images 

Maybe you've heard the term animatic before, or maybe you're hearing it for the very first time right now. An animatic is a pre-production tool used in both film and animation, although it is more commonly referred to as an animatic in the animation setting. We previously talked about what a storyboard is, and one step beyond that brings us to what an animatic is.

So a storyboard is a series of images laid out to show the direction as well as a visual representation of the visuals of each scene. An animatic is taking those individual images and putting them into a movie file and adding audio. You essentially are turning your storyboard into a movie.

The Lion King comparison between the ​storyboard and the final animation is also an example of an animatic. They've taken the still storyboard images and timed them out and turned them into a movie, making it into an animatic.

Turning a Storyboard Into an Animatic

So what's the benefit of taking a storyboard and turning it into an animatic? Well taking turning it into an animatic removes a lot of the explaining that has to be done beneath the storyboard or by someone presenting them. An animatic speaks much more for itself because it moves and has dialogue.

It also is a much clearer representation of what the finished product will look like. As you work in animation you'll often find yourself showing works in progress to people who are unfamiliar with the arts so they may have a hard time imagining a completed project from rough work.

An animatic is a lot closer to the finished product so it's easier for people to imagine how it's going to pan out. When you're watching the Adventure Time animatic you can imagine what you know the characters to look like in the scenes where they're drawing in as sketches, it's a shorter leap for the imagination.

The Advantage of an Animatic

The biggest advantage to an animatic though is it helps define the timing. As a viewer of a storyboard, you can determine how long each scene is by how long you look at a single picture. If we stare at the first picture for a half hour for some weird reason that means that the first shot is a half-hour long in our interpretation of the storyboard.

An animatic allows you to communicate super precisely how long each shot holds for and the timing of the entire piece. You really get across the timing of when an action happens vs when a camera move may happen or when a piece of dialogue happens in relation to the action.

Animatic Is Useful When Working With a Group

So when it gets handed off to an animator they know exactly what to draw and how to draw it from the storyboard, but also exactly how long it should last thanks to the animatic. Like storyboards, they're very useful when you're working in a group rather than just by yourself.

When working alone you might not make an animatic for something because you have it all in your head already, but some people do because it helps guide their workflow. You just have to try both ways and see which one gels better with you!

So in summary, an animatic is a storyboard turned into a movie, with key pieces of sound effects, music, or dialogue added to it. The animatic gives an exact representation of how long each shot and action will last by timing out the storyboard to be representational of the final piece of animation.

Was this page helpful?