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If you've ever worked in a creative business, large or small, I'm sure you've seen the occasional project just go completely bonkers, swallowing up someone's time with changes, unreasonable requests, and confusing project files. And if you haven't, are you hiring? But seriously, all jokes aside, when a project goes wild, it's definitely not a laughing matter. And over the years I've thought about it and I found that many of the problems were caused by things that could have been fixed way before they ever got started. How you might ask? Well, practicing some good old- fashioned project management, from setting the right expectations for your client, creating a schedule, and proper file management, these things are all part of a good motion graphics workflow.
I've broken down my typical motion graphics workflow into roughly 5 stages and you'll see those stages within these three folders. This 00_04 folder, you'll find in your Exercise Files, this is actually a template folder. You can use this for any future projects. I've kind of broken down work into three phases. When you first get started, once you are actually working, and then once you're finished with the project. And all these orange-labeled folders are my five phases for a good motion graphics workflow.
So typically when you start, you want to have a meeting with your client and in that meeting you want to make sure to take good notes. Out of those notes you want to make sure to note things like deliverables, exactly how many graphics are you creating, if the client is going to give you any files, you want to make sure to notate that. Any creative direction you can get out of that meeting is great. The biggest thing is this timeline down here at the bottom. A lot of artists seem to forget that the client should be on a timeline as well as the artist.
What I mean by that? When I send an approval to a client, I expect to hear back from them in a timely fashion. If I can't, it's really hard to make their deadlines. So in my timelines I usually have when I am going to submit the design concepts and then when I'm planning on getting an approval from the client. So again, you want to make sure to nail down your timeline. Now I am going to close this because you should also take that timeline and put it in a calendar. That way if you are working in a workgroup, anybody can see exactly what you're working on, when you're working on it, and you can keep this updated as well.
Once you've done your initial meeting, then comes the research phase. Any of that creative direction that comes out of the meeting, a lot of times I'll end up just hopping right online and using the Internet as a resource. You have to be careful when you're downloading files from the Internet. You want to make sure not to use any of those files in your projects; only keep them for inspiration only. But there's another way of doing research and I highly recommend it, and that's getting up from your desk and going outside. If you look at our research images folder here, you'll see I have a couple of different pictures that I took of just materials I thought around the house.
One of the things we are going to create later is a graphic design that sort of works with a home improvement or home design show. So I went around just taking pictures of textures of different materials and all those kinds of things that you'd see in a home improvement or home design show. So this was fun for me, but it's actually also great because I saved money. I didn't necessarily have to license any images. I just had my own time and went and took my images and just prepped them up in Photoshop a little bit before I dropped them into my research images folder.
The next phase in the five steps I want to talk about: your working phase. So when you're working on your projects, you are going to bounce back and forth between phase 3 and phase 4. When you're working, you want to send approvals. Once you get approvals, you can go back to working. And then once you're finished with these two stages, obviously you want to go ahead and archive your project. Now there are two separate things to this. Archiving your project, you want to archive the actual deliverables. The rendered finished projects that you're sending your client, go ahead and make a copy for yourself in case they ever come back and want new changes, but more importantly go through the projects to see if there are any graphics that you might want to use in future projects.
I mean if you can save yourself some time having to pre-build the smallest graphic element, over time you are going to end up with a huge library of these tiny little elements that save yourself all kinds of time. So as you can tell, I'm a big fan of the process. And I found over the years, if you go through these five stages of creating motion graphics, you can save yourself a lot of time and avoid the drama of another wild project.
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