What is an Animatic?

James Chambers
James Chambers
Boords Founder

An animatic is defined as series of images played in sequence, often with a soundtrack. In essence, it's an animated storyboard

What's the definition of an animatic?

An animatic vs a finished animation

The goal of an animatic is to define the timing for a piece of moving image. When used with a soundtrack, they're a quick and easy way to get a sense of a finished piece of moving image.

Animatics are created by playing a series of images in order and changing the timing on each frame. Timings changes are used to create a sense of pace.

Originally, animatics were created by filming drawings with a camera, then editing the film to various scenes. Today you can create an animatic in Photoshop, After Effects, or specialist animatic software like Boords.

An animatic from Tend, made using Boords

Animatics are at the heart of the pre-production process

Pre-production is the multi-stage process which happens before a film or animation comes to life. Animatics are made after storyboarding, but before the design phase:

Name Purpose
Stage 1 Concepting Define your idea
Stage 2 Scripting Draft your story
Stage 3 Storyboarding Plan your scenes
Stage 4 Animatic Define pace & timing
Stage 5 Design Define visual approach
Stage 6 Logistics Plan the production process

Animatic vs Storyboard

Animatics use the same images as storyboards, but stitched together in sequence and rendered as video.

A storyboard becomes an animatic in Boords

Although animatics and storyboards share the same images, there are some fundamental differences between the two:

Animatic Storyboard
Low-res images
Written frame descriptions
Video output
Varying frame lengths

Animatic vs Animation

Animatics are used to plan an animation, and use low-resolution images to convey timing, rather than the look and feel of the final piece. An animatic is the pre-cursor to the final animation, and is a key part of the planning process.

This example from Tend shows how an animatic is used to guide the final animation. The key scenes have been sketched (or 'scamped') and timed out. These timings are then used as a guide by the animators working on the final piece.

The animatic vs the finished animation

What are the benefits of an animatic?

Animatics are quick to produce

If you've already created a storyboard for your film or animation, it's easy to make an animatic using your storyboard images. Specialist software like Boords allows you to turn your storyboards into animatics automatically.

Animatics are a reference point

When working on your final animation, you can refer back to your animatic to get a reference for frame timing. Without this, it's easy to get lost in the detail of your film and lose sight of the overarching story you're telling.

Animatics help you make quick changes

Because animatics use working sketching, not final images, you won't feel bad about ditching a scenes if it doesn't work. Saying goodbye to a cherished piece of character design in a finished animation can be much more difficult.

Animatics create consensus

An animatic is the first time your team will have seen your film in motion. It's the perfect opportunity for stakeholders to air their thoughts on how the piece feels, and for the creative team to make changes.

Animatics save you time (and money)

Animatics are useful because you can get a sense of the timing of a piece, without spending hours filming (or in the case of animation, drawing) the finished piece. They help you decide what works, and what doesn't before you commit time and resources. Creating film or animation is an expensive business. An animatic is the most efficient way of bridging the gap between planning and production.

Create animatics automatically from your storyboards.

With our online animatic maker you can add frame timings, audio, and subtitles, then save to MP4 or After Effects.