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.

Your Branding

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.

The Concept

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.

Imagery

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

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

Using Bitumen In Art

An ever-increasing amount of artists throughout the entire world are using bitumen as they are beginning to discover the many ways in which this medium can enhance their artwork.

What is bitumen? Bitumen can be described as a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid which is found in most crude petroleums as well as in some natural deposits, sometimes termed asphalt, it is thick and heavy and has to be heated or diluted before it will flow. The primary use of bitumen is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder for the aggregate particles.

Bitumen is often utilized in artwork in the following way: If you wish to add another layer of interest to your painting, try painting bitumen over the surface area, after which you can wipe back selected sections of the bitumen with turpentine, you’ll then see how the impressive effect can add another interesting dimension to your creation. I suggest that you use a test canvas first for experimenting, once you have achieved the desired effect and the look that best suits you then go forth and incorporate this amazing medium into your artwork, it will transform your art into something which is compelling and uniquely yours.

Bear in mind that bitumen could also be painted over various surfaces so for all those artists out there who love texture and layering, you will discover that this really is a fantastic medium to layer over a textured surface, for example: If you are using foil as a medium on canvas and you have painted the desired colour that you are wanting over the foil, you could then paint over the colour with bitumen, wipe it back with turpentine and see how bitumen can showcase the texture and once again add another level of interest and intrigue to your artwork.

The possibilities are endless and once you start experimenting with this particular medium you will begin to see how the many ways in which you are able to use it in art is merely limited by the imagination.

The Psychology of Entertainment

On the private and public forms of entertainment and the psychological mechanisms in entertainment

Entertainment has many dimensions and could be personal/private or more general and public forms of entertainment. When we play with our mates that is a personal form of entertainment and when we sit and watch a movie on the screen that is a more general form of entertainment as we are sharing the experience with many others. There are some differences in our perception of private and public forms of entertainment as personal entertainment will always be based on personal experiences, our personal worldview and will be determined by personal interactions.

The more general and public forms of entertainment are less interactive and there seems to be this basic contradiction as all personal forms of entertainment are more interactive and public forms of entertainment are more personal and private. This scenario has been changing with television programs increasing audience participation in the program however interaction patterns between entertainers and viewers in any public entertainment scenario remain within strict limits and boundaries.

Entertainment takes us to a different world and feeds our need for fantasy and an escape from real life. This is especially true for entertainment that is more public or provided by the media and entertainment provided by films, theatre, music, and all forms of creative art. Films and theatre transposes us to a world of fantasy and grabs our attention so we remain engrossed as almost a part of this alternative reality. Entertainment could also be in the form of magazine stories and gossip or even celebrity culture and the psychology of entertainment could also explain the extreme craze of celebrity culture that we have in the modern world.

Celebrities seem to open up a world of fantasies and for some people knowing every move of celebrities could bring immense satisfaction as it would almost mean participating in fantasies. Fantasies help in overcoming frustrations and serve as therapeutic as they aid in the escape from realities of life. Real emotions and real life are stressful and entertainment helps us to move beyond real life and moments of stress to participate in fantasies that are soothing as we do not have to be directly involved in these fantasies and yet as spectators we can still participate in a tacit or passive manner.

Participation in any book, film or creative art is almost like sitting on a reclining chair that has the technology to soothe your muscles while you relax. In the case of entertainment we participate almost in a passive manner and although we may be very alert and awake in the process of watching a movie, entertainment gives us the illusion of non participation as we don’t have the opportunity to get voluntarily involved in the scenario. Anything that gives us some form of pleasure could be considered as entertainment although entertainment could also give us pain as when we cry when we get emotionally involved with characters while we watch a movie.

Entertainment could trigger emotional involvement and emotional reactions such as happiness, sorrow, anxiety, fear and despite these strong emotional participation, there is little or no physical activity necessary on the part of the viewer. This active-passive process is the main attraction of entertainment as entertainment enables us to be both active (in terms of emotion) and passive (in terms of physical or voluntary mental involvement). Entertainment means like films are influential yet they influence subtly rather than aggressively and this subtle influence seems to work better on the human mind than any aggressive forms of influence. We see work as duty and entertainment as pleasure although both involve some form of emotional involvement. Work at the same time requires voluntary participation, decision making and physical involvement along with emotional involvement.

Yet why is work perceived as something heavy and entertainment as methods of relaxation? The answer is unpredictability. In case of entertainment, in most cases we may not even know what to expect from a movie or a music video. This unpredictability triggers our interest as we are unable to predict what emotional states would be evoked during this mental adventure. Entertainment is usually a form of mental and emotional adventure. In cases where we do know what a movie is about, it is the feeling of emotional familiarity that drives us to experience what we already know. Suppose a video game gave us a pleasurable feeling or evoked aggression and competitiveness in us, we go back to feel the same emotion as it was pleasurable or exciting. Stretched too far these forms of entertainment could easily become addictive.

Coming back to the distinction of work and entertainment or play, work involves responsibility and despite the emotional involvement in entertainment, apart from being a passive participant, we do not have to be responsible for anything, there is no problem solving or decision making and that is how entertainment in all its form is so pleasurable as the right brain activities of decision making and the cortical regions of the brain are not activated completely yet the pleasure sensations and emotions such as the hypothalamus and left brain activities are usually activated so we tend to associated entertainment with emotions rather than problem solving and decision making.

We humans are rational beings and yet emotions still seem to rule our lives and form the core of our existence as emotions still draw us to do things that may be irrational. Entertainment being primarily emotion provoking rather than reason provoking has a major impact on people’s lives. Appreciating any forms of entertainment could switch from the stages of interest to emotional involvement and finally addiction. The celebrity culture is a direct result of the last stages of appreciation for entertainment.

An interest in celebrities comes from emotional involvement with characters in movies and there may be substantial lack of differentiating fantasy and reality so fans of celebrities are more in love with the characters these celebrities play or the traits they project rather than the personality of celebrities. The celebrity culture seems to take people to a persistent fantasy world and individuals are seen as discussing all aspects of celebrities from their shoes to their hairstyle to the cars they possess. This sort of culture could however be explained with individual need to escape reality and identify with someone in a fantasy world and would be an important element in the study of fantasy.

The study of entertainment brings out many psychological aspects of active-passive participation in emotional or mental adventure and these could be

1. Identification – Viewers often identify with characters in movies or figures in art and this strong identification helps explain the value of entertainment. Young children have seen to imitate film stars as they begin identifying with movie characters.

2. Fantasy – Entertainment feeds on the need for fantasy in people and provides an escape route from the real world. Addiction to entertainment could be the basis of reality anxiety in people.

3. Projection – Individuals tend to project their own emotions or state of mind on to a painting or a song and could derive pleasure from this

4. Regression – Entertainment could often remind individuals of their past or a part of their own life they may have forgotten and in some cases bring out the child in them. For example when older people enjoy video games, it brings back their childhood and they may become addicted to this sort of entertainment.

5. Sublimation – Entertainment is also a form of sublimation of our impulsive desires and this especially true when we participate in entertainment as in the interpretation of art

6. Displacement – In non participative and passive forms of entertainment, individuals tend to escape from reality and displace their emotions from real people to characters in movies. For example a teenager in love with a girl whom he cannot attain may fall in love with a character of a movie who may have similarities with his dream girl.

All of the above processes are ego defense mechanisms delineated by Freud and the interplay of so many defense mechanisms in entertainment suggest that entertainment is more than simply a source of pleasure and could trigger complex psychological processes in the human mind. More research would be required in this field of psychology for a complete understanding of the advantages or disadvantages of entertainment in modern society.

From Reflections in Psychology – Saberi Roy

Artist’s Signatures – How Do They Change the Value of Art?

Signed in pencil, signed in the plate, what does all of this mean? The way a print is signed and it’s impact on the value of the art causes a great deal of confusion. You will see prints that are unsigned, signed in the plate, stamped signature, estate signed and signed with a blindstamp. There are no hard and fast rules about how an artist should sign their graphic art. It is more important to know what the normal procedure was for the time period and what the normal practice was for that particular artist.

Centuries ago, most artists never considered signing their art. Numbers of pieces are unsigned, but that does not mean that the artist is unknown or that it was not done or approved by him or that it has no value. Rembrandt, considered one of the greatest etchers did not sign a number of his etchings. Most of the modern masters, Picasso, Chagall, Miro, did not sign certain editions. This is when it is important to work with a knowledgeable dealer since unscrupulous people have forged pencil signatures on authentic art in order to command a higher price.

Signed in the plate means that the artist has signed their name in the matrix (wood, metal, stone, etc) so that it is printed within the art. This is the way that an artist would sign their work up until the 19th Century and many of the earlier artists would not have done that much if it had not be decreed by guild law. Generally speaking, because in art there are always exceptions, a plate signed work of art is more desirable than an unsigned piece, but is less desirable than one signed in pencil. Since artist from the 14th to late 19th Century did not sign their art in pencil, the lack of a pencil signature has no impact on the value.

Signed in pencil is usually the type of signature that collectors prefer.

It has become a tradition for the artist to sign their name in the lower margin under the image. They may also include the edition number, title and date. We can thank James McNeil Whistler for helping to introduce and promote the hand written signature at the end of the 19th century. The hand signed signature signified the integrity of the print, that it is original and distinctive from a reproduction. Whistler charged twice as much for his hand signed pieces than he did his other pieces from the same edition, even though there was no difference in the quality of the art. Seymour Haden would sign his name to any of his earlier unsigned etchings for a guinea. Picasso sold 15000 signatures for the Vollard Suite.

Unfortunately, the hand signed signature no longer has this same meaning since many artists sign and number their offset lithographic or giclee reproductive prints. Nor is this a new phenomenon, Kathe Kollwitz signed photolithographic reproductions of one of her aquatint series. Still, the implied message has remained and pieces that are hand signed generally are more valuable than ones that are not. What makes all of this very confusing is that it is possible to have a fake signature on an authentic work of art and an authentic signature on a reproductive work of art.

Sometimes, instead of hand signing the art or signing in the plate, an artist will use a stamp of their signature and apply it to the art, usually in the lower margin where you would normally find the hand signature. A stamped signature will sometimes be confused for a hand signed signature.

Heirs and estates have been creating posthumous editions or reproductive editions that bears a special signature. They sign the art to give the impression that it would have been authorized by the artist if they had not died. These signatures could be hand signed, stamped signatures or blindstamps by the heirs, museums or any authorized organization. The value of these is usually much lower than lifetime impressions. But of course, there are always exceptions!