Download this article in .PDF format
This file type includes high resolution graphics and schematics when applicable.

Another challenge is in keeping the final piece from going into information overload. Animators typically try to visually communicate the pre-determined concepts/points to be highlighted, with the least amount of callouts or text, or extraneous camera movements. Often, end users tend to request the addition of text overlays on the animation, eventually dragging out the overall video. This makes for a less interesting tradeshow presentation or YouTube demo.

One mistake often made during the conception of these projects is to constrain animations into a finite length. The animation should be as long as necessary to clearly communicate the desired message. Professional animators generally recommend steering away from artists quoting a “price per minute” for technical animations. Technical animations are based on complexity rather than finished overall length. Example: Compare the disassembly of a pen to a complete working robotic automation line. Both could occupy a 2-min animation. The pen animation is probably much less complicated than that for the automation line.

As with any engineering project, time management is important for animation work. It is probably smart to build in a few weeks of buffer time for animations that must be ready for a trade show. Depending on complexity, animation projects can take several weeks to complete. Scope creep is as challenging for animations as for building machines. Sometimes less is more. An animation artist can always add content later on.

Similarly, sometimes manufacturers wonder whether a product animation will reveal their intellectual property if they show too much detail. That was the case recently with the animation of an injection molding process. The mold itself was hidden but animation could still show how the plastic runs into the part. Animators can often make two versions of the animation if necessary. One version is for public use on a website, for example, and hides certain elements of the machine, system, or process. The other version is for trusted clients and usually never gets left with customers. It can show as much as the IP owner cares to disclose. The beauty of animations is that their creators can reveal as few or as many details as necessary.

Download this article in .PDF format
This file type includes high resolution graphics and schematics when applicable.