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
The Title & Introduction
The very first thing you will write on any treatment is the name of the project, so it is highly advisable to make sure you get this part correct. When taking a brief it is always a good idea to take as detailed notes as possible about all aspects of the project including the people involved, key words, reference material, technical aspects or limitations, audio preferences and project working titles. These notes will assist when putting the basics into a treatment, and showing your fullest understanding of the brief, like the correct title, or key words that the client was at pains to describe the project with.
Once you have a clean leading page with the clients name, the name of the project, and any subtitle, you are ready to add the first and most important body of text, the introduction or approach.
The introduction, outline, premise or approach to a treatment is a vital and concise 2 or 3 line paragraph, clearly telling the reader what it is they are about to read, and the reason for reading it. Ideally this paragraph will ‘grab’ the reader immediately and tweak their interest, wanting to read the rest of the document.
The Writing Style
The use of descriptive language is an important part of the art of all writing, no less with treatments, where you ideally need to squeeze all the information into one or two sides of a4 paper to paint a clear picture in the readers mind’s eye of exactly what they can expect the final film or animation to look like.
When describing your concept, try and use flowing and elegant phrasing while being descriptive and to the point. A wide use of vocabulary will keep the reader interested and their brain visualising the result.
For example, The brief is for a television crime drama title sequence, and the Director wants the style of the title sequence to reflect the period, atmosphere and subject matter of the script. The Director may use quite descriptive words in a brief like, dark or chilling, ensure to re-use these words in your treatment and add some of your own to further embellish. For example; dark foreboding blackness, or chilling, spine jarring finale.
Try not to repeat the same word too many times, and think of alternative ways to describe the same or similar part of the project. For example; when mentioning a transitional effect in the animation or film, try and find new ways to write about that effect.
Ensure that your business, company or studio logo and branding is clearly marked on the front of the treatment, as well as the body of the treatment to ensure that all who read it will know where it is from and who wrote it. It will also help ensure your ideas stay as your own and are not borrowed by 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 edit your treatment or take paragraphs for re purposing into another document. Saving your MS Word or other word processor document as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file is an ideal way of achieving this.
This is the main body of text where you can flesh out the idea in more detail. It is important to ensure that this paragraph is easy to read and to the point. Use this part of the treatment as a way of quickly describing the rest of the information that you eloquently touched on in your Introduction. Try and keep the sentences brief with enough space around them to be absorbed easily. Allow the sentences to flow together easily to ensure the reader does not get lost partway through, it is vital that your idea makes sense from start to finish giving your reader the chance of constructing the piece in their own minds eye.
Consider including images to assist your concept.
You will probably be producing a storyboard separately to your treatment, but using additional reference images, character illustrations, environment and backgrounds or mood board images in your treatment can really help the reader to grasp what you are saying. Positioning the images is also important, breaking up the paragraphs can lose the readers flow, so try adding an image or series of images under a paragraph.
Using a large image under the Introduction can act as a real eye grabber for the rest of the document.
Reference material is key to helping sell your idea, especially if you can reference your own past work. It is another chance to showcase your work and give the client every confidence in your ability to deliver what you are writing about. References can be web links, embedded links, images, sounds, music tracks, illustration or video. If possible, try and collate it all into one place, an ftp location, a website, a file share location or as zipped attachments to make it easy for the client to explore your references and not have to go to many different internet sites. Again, keeping the treatment easy to read, follow and absorb is paramount.
The Technical Breakdown
The technical section of a treatment should be very factual, very brief and very clear. The clarity will, once again, illustrate to the reader that you have carefully thought the process through and understand exactly what it will take to achieve the finished result. You will always be able to change your thinking with kit later, but at least at this early stage you have approached the idea with a way of technically creating your masterpiece. This paragraph will also illustrate your ability to handle both aspects of any motion graphics project, creativity and technical knowhow, the core components to any motion graphics designer.
Think about outlining what and how many computers you will need, how much disk storage space and backup will be required, which software packages will you be using and are there any specific plug-ins or presets that are relevant. Also take into account the amount of rendering time and hardware that will be needed, archiving considerations, and final delivery formats and other delivery aspects.
Music and Audio
As we all know, music and sound effects can really bring animation and video to life and is a major part of any visual experience. Touch on ideas you have for the music and sound design, include references to other similarly styled videos and describe the tone and atmosphere that the music will evoke with your visuals.
The Budget & Estimated Costs
Costs and quotes are also a huge factor in whether you will succeed in getting the project you desire, but refrain from including any mention of money in the treatment. Instead provide a separate quotation document including any reference to technical or creative specifics in the treatment.
The Conclusion / Summary
The final part of your treatment should act in a similar way to the introduction.
It is a short paragraph that allows you to quickly remind the reader of the key points you discussed in the rest of the document. It is also a chance to use good language to leave the reader wanting to see what you have described, wanting to explore further, wanting to make it come to life.
List of Components
INTRODUCTION – short and sweet
CONCEPT – main descriptive body of text
IMAGES – reference material
TECHNICAL – geeky but essential breakdown
AUDIO – style and reference guide
SUMMARY – the final roundup