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

The History of Body Piercings – Ancient and Fascinating Around the World

Body piercings have seen a resurgence of interest in the last ten to twenty years and are becoming more and more a part of the mainstream Western culture. Take a look at any fashion or entertainment magazine and you’ll see plenty of well-known celebrities with body piercings like navel rings or a labret. You might be surprised to find out that piercing is actually an ancient form of expression that most cultures have practiced at some time or other for thousands of years. Egyptian body piercings reflected status and love of beauty The earliest known mummified remains of a human that was pierced is over 5,000 years old. This worthy gentleman had his ears pierced with larger-gauge plugs in his ears, so plugs may be one of the oldest forms of body modification there is! We also know that the Egyptians loved to adorn themselves elaborately, and even restricted certain types of body piercings to the royal family. In fact, only pharaoh himself could have his navel pierced. Any one else who tried to get a belly button ring could be executed. (Tell that to Britney Spears!) Almost every well-to-do Egyptian wore earrings, though, to display their wealth and accent their beauty. Elaborate enameled and gold earrings frequently portrayed items in nature such as lotus blossoms. Body piercings are also mentioned in the Bible. In the Old Testament it’s obvious that body jewelry is considered a mark of beauty and wealth, especially for Bedouin and nomadic tribes. In many cases, body jewelry was given as a bridal gift or as part of a dowry. It is clear that piercing was a sign of status and attractiveness in Biblical times. Romans were practical piercers Romans were very practical people, and for them piercing almost always served a purpose. Roman centurions pierced their nipples not because they liked the way it looked, but to signify their strength and virility. It was a badge of honor that demonstrated the centurion’s dedication to the Roman Empire. As a symbol, it was important and served a specific function, unifying and bonding the army. Even Julius Caesar pierced his nipples to show his strength and his identification with his men. Genital piercing through the head of the penis was performed on gladiators, who were almost always slaves, for two reasons. A ring through the head of the penis could be used to tie the organ back to the testicles with a length of leather. In gladiatorial combat, this prevented serious injury. With a large enough ring or bar, it also prevented the slave from having sex without the owner’s consent. Since the gladiator was “property,” a stud fee could be charged to another slave owner for the highly prized opportunity to raise the next generation of great fighter. Making love or war, piercing makes it better Going across the ocean at around the same time, the Aztecs, Maya and some American Indians practiced tongue piercing as part of their religious rituals. It was thought to bring them closer to their gods and was a type of ritual blood-letting. The Aztec and Maya were warrior tribes, and also practiced septum piercing in order to appear fiercer to their enemies. Nothing looks quite as frightening as an opponent sporting a huge boar tusk thrust through his nose!

This practice was also common among tribes in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Some of the materials commonly used were bone, tusks and feathers. Hundreds of years later, French fur trappers in Washington State discovered American Indian tribes who wore bones through their septum and called them the Nez Perce, meaning “Pierced Noses” in French. It’s interesting that civilizations separated by thousands of miles and even centuries often developed a love for the same kind of body piercings to enhance certain features, isn’t it?

In Central and South America, lip labrets were popular for purely aesthetic reasons – women with pierced lips were considered more attractive. In fact, the holes were often stretched to incredible size as progressively larger wooden plates were inserted to emphasize the lips as much as possible. (Kind of like collagen today). The Aztecs and Maya also sported lip labrets of gold and jade, many of them elaborately carved into mythical or religious figures or sporting gemstones. These were seen as highly attractive and to enhance sexuality. As the world moved into the dark ages, interest in piercing died down somewhat and the medieval church began to condemn it as sinful. For a few hundred years, Western civilization abandoned the practice. As the Renaissance went into full swing, however, interest in piercing began to pick up again. A new era and a new interest in body piercings Sailors became convinced that piercing one ear would improve their long-distance site, and so the site of a sailor with a gold or brass ring became common. Word also spread that should a sailor be washed ashore after a shipwreck, the finder should keep the gold ring in exchange for providing a proper Christian burial. Sailors were both religious and superstitious, so they generally spent a lot for a large gold earring to hedge their bets. Men became much more fashion-conscious during the Renaissance and Elizabethan eras, and almost any male member of the nobility would have at least one earring, if not more. Large pearl drops and enormous diamond studs were a great way to advertise your wealth and standing in the community. It could also designate royal favor if your earring was a gift from a member of the royal family. Women, not wanting to be outshone by the men in all their finery, began to wear plunging necklines, with the Queen of Bavaria introducing the most outrageous, which consisted of not much at all above the waist. In order to adorn themselves, women began piercing their nipples to show off their jewelry. Soon they began wearing chains and even strands of pearls draped between the two.

Men and women both discovered that these nipple piercings were also delightful playthings in bed, adding sensitivity to the breasts and giving the men both visual and tactile stimulation. Men began getting pierced purely for pleasure as well. While not entirely mainstream, piercing of the nipples and, occasionally, the genitals, continued to hold interest for members of the upper crust of society in Europe on and off for the next few hundred years. The next resurgence of interest was, surprisingly, during the Victorian age, which is usually seen as very repressed. Prince Albert, future husband of Queen Victoria, is said to have gotten the penis piercing that is named after him in order wear the tight-fitting trousers so popular at the time. The ring could then be attached to a hook on the inside of one pant leg, tucked safely away between the legs for a neat, trim look. Although we have no record of Victoria’s response to the piercing itself, there is ample evidence she was wildly in love with her husband and almost never left his side after their marriage! Soon, Victorian men were getting Prince Albert’s, frenums and a variety of other piercings purely for the pleasurable sexual effects, and women were doing the same. By the 1890′s, it was almost expected that a woman would have her nipples pierced. In fact, some doctors at the time suggested it improved conditions for breastfeeding, although not all agreed. It was an interesting double standard — plenty of people were doing it, but no one was talking about it. Modern-day body piercings In the last hundred years or so, body piercings in the Western world have mostly been limited to the ears, a standard hold-over from the fact that both men and women wore earrings during Elizabethan times. The Puritan movement did away with men wearing earrings, however, and it didn’t really regain popularity until recently. Nose rings found new interest when young people (they were called hippies then) from the U.S. began traveling in India extensively looking for enlightenment in the 1960′s. They noticed the nostril rings that most women had been wearing there since the sixteenth century. In India, this was a form of traditional, accepted adornment and was often linked to an earring by a chain. For rebellious teens from America, it was a great form of rebellion. After bringing nose piercings back to the U.S., the interest in body piercings of all kinds quickly caught on during the 1980′s and 1990′s. Celebrities, sports stars and singers all began sporting a variety of piercings. Soon, high school students and even stay-at-home moms were flashing new body piercings. And the rest, as they say, is history! This article on the “History of Body Piercings” reprinted with permission.
Copyright 2004 Evaluseek Publishing.

The History and Evolution of Arrows in Graffiti Art

One of the most important design elements in graffiti art is the arrow. Arrows express movement and energy. In her groundbreaking book “Tag Town”, Martha Cooper photographed vintage graffiti tags in her Washington Heights neighborhood, still visible from the early 1970′s to 1980′s (tags are those hard to read scribbles you see on mailboxes and other surfaces around most cities). Many of these tags contained arrows, as well as stars, hearts, numbers, and crowns. From studying the images of these early tags, we were able to determine that the complex variations of arrows we see in today’s advanced Wildstyle graffiti letterforms originated from simple graffiti tags.

An arrow is an internationally understood symbol that is used on signs to simply indicate direction, as in “Entrance” or “Exit”. In graffiti art, however, an arrow is a powerful, visual tool that is often combined with letters to give them motion and dynamism. An arrow guides the eyes of the viewer in a specific direction. An arrow can project out from any side of a letter, weaving in and out, backwards and forwards, and around in circles, across a two-dimensional surface, creating depth and rhythm. Graffiti artist Ezo says that every graffiti writer has his or her own arrow and it’s true: the variations and design possibilities of an arrow are endless. An arrow can be drawn in all shapes and sizes; thick and chunky or long and spindly, pointy or squared, single or with multiple ends. An arrow can organically follow the flow and direction of a letter, like a vine. Or it can blast off of the side from which it protrudes, like a missile, as in the artwork of “The Rammelzee”, known as Gothic Futurism.

So, early graffiti writers incorporated simple arrows and other basic design elements into their tags to make them stand out and grab attention. From that simple beginning, the arrow has evolved into a multi-faceted, complex and autonomous art object of its own. One New York artist and graffiti writer, Mare 139, actually creates beautiful, 3-dimensional sheet-metal sculptures that contain only arrows, with light and space as parts of his designs. We think arrows are a fascinating and diverse element of graffiti letterforms, providing artists and students with continuous possibilities for innovation and style. We totally love arrows.

Pop Art – A Quick Guide to the Basics

Some of the most well-known artists of the Pop Art phenomenon, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, were born in the 1920′s which was a boom time in the USA with money to spare and jazz music starting to make it’s mark. But in 1929 the stock market crashed and the US entered a depression that lasted until the mid-1930′s. Perhaps the most famous of all pop artists, Andy Warhol, was born at the beginning of that depression.

So these artists grew up in a fast changing world that went from boom to bust to World War II in little over 10 years. By the time the war ended, they were still young and during the 1950s people again started to have some extra money available to spend on the endless stream of new products that were starting to appear.

And it was the design and advertising of these new products that the artists were commenting on, and influenced by, in a way that no previous generation of artists had been. They tried to use ordinary consumer items in their work to encourage people to view them differently. They also positioned common items in unusual ways to make people take notice of them.

Other common themes in Pop Art were comic books and the famous people of that era such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, who will be forever associated with Warhol’s work. Warhol used screen printing techniques for his work and usually made several copies of the same image.

But what the artists sought to highlight was the way famous people were treated as objects in the same way as products were in advertising with all sense of their individuality removed. Although many pop artists were unwilling to give meaning to their work, and even those who posed questions with their art, left those same questions unanswered. Jasper Johns, famous for his series of paintings showing the American flag, famously questioned whether his own work was art or just a flag.

So what are the characteristics of Pop Art?

Just as the world in which we live is endlessly varied, so Pop Art used a variety of techniques but the common characteristics that define works as Pop Art are as follows:

Graphic Style: Clearly defined shapes and colours with hard edges such as the Lichtenstein comic book styles and David Hockney’s works.

Funny and Lighthearted: Rejecting the rather serious approach of earlier artists.

Everyday Products and Brands: including foodstuffs, cars and images from advertising and films.

Collage: and also different techniques within one work.

No Perspective: Flat two-dimensional works are very common.

Mechanical Techniques: silk-screen printing was used to create different versions of the same image.