When you need to tell an important story, then you need a storyboard with a script. Here is information on how we help you succeed in complex communications with visually animated narratives.
A fly through or drive through animation video is a different type of communications product that has a lot less focus on narrative story development beyond some camera angles and framing. Narrative videos and communications products have all the complexities of fly-through videos with data, accuracy and 3D integration – but with complex storytelling narratives on top.
Executive Summary of storyboarding and scripting service
Storyboard story and script developed via creative process and client workshops as pre-production service. Variables:
- Frames: 4-6 storyboard frames per minute of video animation
- Words: 75-100 words of script per minute of video animation
Great communications can make a business, a pitch or bid. The core of communication products are the narrative, the clarity of message and the visuals. If you don’t get this right, your risk is irrelevance.
Great companies like Apple, Nike or Tiffany spend big on narrative advertising, because it works. Multi-billion dollar revenues are built from great communications. This is what we can do for you.
Our campaigns have delivered billions of dollars in growth. We have helped move the minds of millions. We have helped transform cultures and behaviours in complex industries and organisations. We have helped influence specific key stakeholders to support projects.
If you want to be heard, to be relevant, to win, to sell, to influence or clear the path – we can help you.
The 3 steps in visual communications development
This web page is about the pre-production stage.
The term ‘pre-production’ is the key process to developing a narrative and message. It is a unique and powerful skill that can forms the communications campaign. It requires time, conversation and consideration with a structured professional process to build the message, create the framing, distil the story and create a succinct script.
Think about the movie and cinema business. All cinematographic movies have enormous pre-production processes that may build the entire movie as an ‘animatic’ – a low-resolution 3D version – with every camera move, camera type, angle and word planned well in advance of set setup.
After pre-production and storyboarding, you move to ‘production’ – which is the process to take that storyboard, script and concept into full production, to build it out in glorious detail. If you jump into production without quality pre-production, you outcome will suffer.
Post-production is refining and polishing the production elements into a concise quality product and may include colour grading, fine-tuning visual and soundscape edits to lift the production quality to A-grade.
What are the steps we take you through?
01: Research Stage
There are a suit of matters we will analyse and document in a clear and succinct fashion to set the programme up for success, and ascertain what is a right solution for you.
We get asked all the time about how to do message delivery – and we are happy to give some quick feedback on methods and what we have done before.
Free tip – simplicity is usually the key. Especially when you seeking to influence senior executives or politicians. You have only seconds or minutes to get key messages across – so the ‘keep it simple’ approach is worth remembering, and deeply understand your targets natural behaviours.
Another free tip – it is usually best not build a Lord of The Rings saga in your communications tools. It is better to do short, clear compelling communication products regularly rather than one long saga. Audiences tune out pretty quickly. With rolling campaigns, you can tweak and edit, and run A/B tests with messaging and media to create the greatest success.
What is the challenge?
Typical questions: Are you trying to win revenue? Influence a key stakeholder? Grow sales? Get a business case funded? Create a burning platform so actions are taken? Are you trying to win a bid? Are you trying to bring thousands of staff on a cultural transformation journey? Are you trying to engage a community to have trust in you, ease their anxieties, or change their behaviour in certain situations?
The answers to these questions will have a big impact on mood, style, language, script complexity, visual complexity, soundscapes, medium, format and everything in between.
Who is the audience and what insights do you have?
Typical questions: What intel do you have on the situation and the background of your audience? How are they accessing information? Are you directly presenting in person or via a message? Are you presenting in a conference room, in a lift between floor G and 10? What is the attention span of the audience? What do they know about the situation? How much do they care now, or do you need to make them care?
Deeply understanding the audience is critical to communication success. It is all about the receiver of the communication and how they will digest it. When we build communication products that your audience watch again and again, because they are so compelled, we know we are onto something. When they watch it in bed or on the sofa, and talk to their partner and friends about it, then you are really winning. It’s the elegant simplicity that matters.
What is the history of the situation?
Typical questions: What have you tried before? What has worked and what has not? How long did it take you? What was the return on investment? How frustrated is your target with you? Or, do they even know you exist? Have you overwhelmed them with information, or are you just invisible? Are you getting invited to key decision making events? Do you have their attention?
What information do you have?
Typical questions: Do you have reports, graphs and charts? Or do you just have a few napkin sketches and a bunch of ideas? How are you summarising this, or are you able to? is the information spread across many people, or is it collated?
Many (most) of our clients have compendiums of information, reports with hundreds of pages of 9-point, double-columned words, impressive and complex technical and engineering drawings, plans, elevations, cross-sections, charts with dozen of elements that may have taken years to collate and cost millions of dollars. Maybe they have sent these to their audience, with no result. Crickets.
We are expert at distilling this information and making clear, succinct executive messages and animating this into compelling engaging communication products that get the success you are seeking.
What are your, and their, pain points?
Typical questions: What are the driving key pain points and challenges. What are the key problem or problems to be solved. Are you looking to boil the ocean, or is there just one clear objective? What pain points cause the most issues and what does that look like? Is it injuries and incidents, is it lost business and foreclosures, is it lost elections and opportunities, lost customers or cultural disarray?
Focussing clearly on the things that matter most is a smart way to create the biggest impact for least effort. We often have to steer clients and their advisors back to the points that the audience cares about. We may need to remind you that boiling the ocean with too many messages – means you will get no message across.
How is success understood and measured?
Typical questions: Is success clearly defined? Is success to drive inbounds or change behaviour? Is it to build a conversation or build trust? Do you want the phone to ring, or to stop ringing? Do you want a singular person or set of people to do a particular action, like approve a budget? Do you want a large cohort of people to do an action, or think a thought? How do you measure success qualitatively and quantifiably? What metrics do you have?
We help you set up a process to record the cultural mindset and financial situation for the ‘state of play’ pre-campaign and document the expected and hoped-for success factors. This helps to clearly measure the success and return on investment, which is especially important for our partner-clients. It can be easy to forget the ‘bad old days’ once your world has changed from the magic of great communications products.
What is the timeline and programme?
Typical questions: How fast do you want to move? Is it a singular set date or is it a flexible range of dates dependant on other factors? Is a set of actions across a campaign appropriate, or is it a singular blast or result? Who is available and who is not and when? How does that impact progress and progression? When will you try a baby step or a monster step? How do these steps link to each other? What are your audiences’ timelines and when is the best moment to grab their attention?
Timelines can be simple or very complex. Simple examples are to make a singular product for a singular drop-dead date. Complex examples are community engagement or cultural transformation programmes dependant on political and public events beyond your control.
What is the campaign context?
Typical questions: Where will the products be displayed? Is it for conferences, social, in-person presentations or all of these? Will this be seen on phone screens or billboards? Is it one audience and demographic or a wide array? is the audience technical and expert, youthful, layperson or political? Are they already engaged and seeking more, or blissfully unaware of you and your message?
The great news is, we often build amazing campaigns that work cross-platform, and cross-message. For example a continuous program of video communications in a defined style. Or
What are the budgets?
Typical questions: Is the budget variable depending on outcomes and successes, or is it a singular fixed budget? How do you spend a little to get some quick wins and prove the process, and grow from there? What opt-out points do you want available and how will this effect risk? Are you budgets realistic for what you are trying to achieve? What have you spent before and how did it work?
Budgets are clearly an important factor. Managing expectations for what you can achieve for what budget is part of our role. Stepping out budget milestones and programmes can be important, and relating budgets to your organisation’s milestones. managing procurement and purchasing can be complex and nuanced and expensive in itself. All these factors need to be considered.
Who are the key internal stakeholders?
Typical questions: Who needs to sign off on the storyboard and campaign plan before next stages? How accessible are the key stakeholders? What process do you have for getting repeated access to them? Have considered the impacts if senior stakeholders veto the campaign at the 11th hour? How to mitigate this? Do you have communications experts on board and how will they be managed?
We have extensive experience managing different stakeholders, from time-poor senior executives to technical and communications specialists. it can be very complex to navigate the landscape with ‘many chefs in the kitchen’, especially the master-chef who arrives late. A professional stakeholder engagement, role map and expectation management process is important to make your life easy in these important products.
Are your team open to advise and expertise?
Typical questions: Do you have communications experts and advisors on-board, yet your communications is not cutting through? Does this mean you have too many cooks? Do you want a provider who simply ‘does what you tell them’, or experts who advise you on winning strategies and tactics?
The openness of your team has a large impact on communications success. If we are just producing the communication products that others think is necessary, that is a different role to advising you what you should even be saying. We have often had clients say – if only we had listened to your advice.
Technical clients, for example, can often get caught up in the cleverness of some technicality, when maybe the audience has other aspects on their mind.
Do you have a brand, style or mood to reflect or include?
Typical questions: Do you have a brand guide? How strict is it and how much does it need to apply here? Does it just need to be on the intro/outro screens, or weaved through the content itself, or it’s not relevant at all? Does your brand, product or organisation have a ‘voice’, a tone or personality? Does it need one? Are there things you have seen that you like? From our work, from a competitor or from popular culture?
We will ask for your branding guide and the documentation rules. We will ask you to show and send us things you like you have done before, or other people are doing – or if you don’t have them, we may show you a range of solutions.
Research stage deliverables
- Audience clarification and demographics
- Audience behaviours known
- Product mix (education, awareness, communication)
- Research & focus groups suggested
- Penetration and saturation rates
- Channels / Platforms
- Success Metrics – current vs future – interim vs long-term
- Defined problem statement
- Call to action/s of the audience/s – what exactly you want them to do
- Virality vs specificity for influence and results
- Campaign expansion vs singularity
- Media and format options – print to video to gamification
- Localisation vs generalisation – geography and messaging
- Cultural inclusions, exclusions and sensitivities
- Stakeholder considerations and approvals methods
02: Concept Development Stage
Senior Stakeholder listening sessions
It is critical to get the input senior stakeholders across the approval framework right up front. You do not want to deliver to your ultimate boss a solution they disagree with. If they do disagree with the key messages, we will need to work with you to take them on a journey of understanding. This step up front is often overlooked through the excitement, but it will maximise the chances of a peaceful and smooth communication journey.
We suggest personalised and brief engagement sessions with time-poor executives up front, when there is nothing to show. with clear questions and structure to elicit their opinion and view. 15-30 minute structured discussions across a few key questions is usually adequate.
Client workshops – key message definition
After the research and insights stage, we will have a set of documented messages and elements. We will lay these out in one or more structured workshops and facilitate getting to a set of ideally three, and no more than five key messages to communicate. We will help with the discussions and possible disagreements about these messages, and facilitate the crucial conversations and rationale from all the background information to arrive at an agreed point.
The typical key message development journey may be:
- Playback issues and problem statement from research and listening sessions
- Present distilled key messages for the campaign/s
- Draft the key messages into a preliminary script or bullet points
- Iterate around the key messaging with you and/or your team in workshop/s
- Key message verification and lock-out.
Key message lockout is a pivotal point in the pre-production process. If you or your team believe you have the key messages and have done all the above work, then we can discuss commencement at this point, and frame our proposal accordingly.
We will do a multi-factor creative analysis and commence internal ideation and sketching workshops. Budgets, timeframes, audiences, stakeholders and approvals, risk appetite, culture and our history of working together all will have a big influence on where we take the concepts.
We will develop the following products internally, depending on the situation. Sometimes we may suggest creative whiteboarding sessions with you, in your or our office. Concept creation does require some artistic time and thought. We protect the artists and phones get turned off for a while.
- Concept/s creation – sketching, illustrating or creating
- Style and mood development – a mood board, colours, framing and tonality, culture
- Concept presentations to you and/or your team
- Concept culling, iterations and adjustments
- Concept circulation and approvals
- Concept sign off
Once we are happy with one or more concepts, we will want to present them to you. The concepts are not yet in a storyboard structure. The story concepts are purely the ‘idea’ expressed succinctly in visual form/s. The concepts maybe a 3D map or preliminary model, annotated pen sketches, graphical illustrations, a new character, collages or sculptures. The options are literally endless.
The typical process for the concept development stage is:
- Concept solidification and detailing
- Concept expansion to multiple scenarios
- Concept illustrations extensions
- Concept framing into one or several stories
- Camera angle framing
In parallel with the concept, is the script of the actual messaging. The concept plus the script is the narrative. In reality, the script drives the narrative, the tempo, the camera pathing and the soundscape. Thus the script is a core and pivotal part of the project.
The script needs to be distilled, developed, written, refined and locked down. It is typical that clients want to say too many things, with too many messages and words – we help you see the light.
75-100 words per minute is the word count limit. There will be a lot of visual storytelling going on too, that will say a lot of the words for you.
Three (yes, 3) messages per minute is our recommended message cadence. Too many messages, unclear messaging, and lack of space around the words and messaging to ‘digest’ the message, can cause your audience to switch off.
The process includes:
- Develop key messages into a written script
- Develop script narrative (75-100 words per minute)
- Iterate the script with the team
- Sign off on the script
Storyboard creation and development
With the concept, the messages, the tone, and the script in place, we are ready to build you a storyboard. The storyboard combines these elements into a set of frames for production development.
The frames form a story sequence that will control the camera positions and what will be seen under different circumstances.
A story-board will consist of 4 – 6 story-board frames per minute of animation for a film or video product.
The storyboard creation development process includes:
- Illustration of the concept synchronised with the script
- Sketching 4 – 6 storyboard frames per minute
- Inclusion of narratives of key points
- Inclusion of camera motion behaviours (zoom, pan, crane etc)
- Descriptions of shot content (eg 3D footage, compositions, chopper or drone footage…)
- Description of soundscapes beyond a voiceover
- Descriptions of call-outs, in-scene or on-screen text (supers)
- Integration into a linked story-board strip of annotated illustrations
- Presentation of the storyboard
- Iteration and refinement of the story-board with the team
- Story-board sign-off
Case Studies and Examples
Services Australia: staff change management and engagement.
Services Australia, formerly the Department of Human Services and before that the Department of Social Security, is an executive agency of the Australian Government. Services Australia is1 responsible for delivering a range of welfare, health, child support payments to Australian citizens and permanent residents.
Services Australia approached us with very complicated and clever documentation, hundreds of pages long. Many years of expensive consultant reports had been spent to create this highly intelligent and rational documentation with beautiful graphics, complex charts with hundreds of points, and hundreds of thousands of words with complex messages.
The trouble was, the change management team could not capture the attention of the 30,000 plus staff to take them on this digital transformation journey to totally reposition the way services will be delivered and the customer experience.
People were not on the same page within and across departments, and many simply didn’t understand the point of all this transformation stuff – what was the need?
The client needed to both engage their team and take that team on a journey from the ‘old way of delivering services’ to a ‘new way’ of digital working. This new way provided efficiencies and quality to the Services Australia’s customers, the citizens and permanent residents of Australia.
Before we could think about making ideas and content for the vision, a significant amount of time was required to engage with the client team to decipher what the key messages actually were and that everyone was aligned who need to be aligned to those messages.
Our skill in understanding visual communication, psychology, engagement, approvals processes and deep experience in dealing with large complex organisations were key elements to consider preceding production, or pre-production. The client also had an immovable target budget and procurement limits and very high expectations.
We built a story based on the ‘customer journey’ of a woman seeking services from Services Australia as she went through different stages of her life – from student, through motherhood, and how these paths joined together into a seamless easy customer experience journey with an integrated identification.
Animation production and post-production.
The Services Australia communication products was developed to deliver several focussed key messages as well as performing an engagement and cultural management process for the staff.
Communication products and the narrative strategy has been highly successful with multiple products developed across the program on a rolling basis.
Lendlease, Frankston Hospital Bid
Context and challenge
A 600 million dollar hospital bid proposal. The challenge was to win.
A large team of experts were part of an alliance. The proposal needed to be summarised perfectly in a clear visual communications production to demonstrate the approach between Lendlease, Batesmart designers and architects, plus other key funding stakeholders including the Capella Capital.
A communications advisory agency was engaged by the client to write the documents and bid submissions perfectly, but the conversation had to managed when it comes to content and scripts for visual communications products.
Lendlease directors are some of he best in the world, and soon understood the differences. The client relied on our communications experts to ask the right questions to tease out the perfect message based on what our clients audience actually cared about most and differentiated them to close the deal.
Our process of clear and concise questioning around key factors to differentiate, to help the client really define and make no assumptions on what those messages are.
For the Frankston Hospital expansion, this ranged from the design and construction of the hospital, the car parking, the disruption to working conditions, the community integration, to hand basin locations for efficient workflow of hand washing for doctors.
The bid team had an overwhelming amount of information, reports, diagrams and models. This included over 200 pages of information-dense PowerPoint slides. At first the client team asked us to convert this 200 pages into a four-minute video.
We had to coach the team that this is just not suitable. It would either be a 3 hour epic saga and/or 100x over budget.
We took the diverse alliance of architects, construction managers, communications and design managers on a journey in a bid-cycle timeline to help extract and clarify the few key messages.
We built a summary that focussed on the outcomes sought. We asked what the target audience actually cared most about – and how did they know and verify and double verify? Who has the inside running and the ear of the real deciding client? And many other questions.
Our facilitated process guided the team to create key messages into beautiful imagery and an animation that would position them to win the bid. And Lendlease did indeed win the $600m bid.
The project leaders reflected that our 3D animation and communication tool “was the decisive key element in winning the project”.
Sidney Myer Music Bowl – funding bid 3D animation
The National Gallery of Victoria with their massive Arts Precinct project approached us to help them win funding to upgrade the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The venue has been neglected in several funding rounds for the past decades.
The amazing architects at ARM for the new design were heavily involved – and like most technical specialists, were seeking a visual communications production that focussed purely on the technical design with ‘hero renders’ and flythrough to demonstrate their incredible work.
In working with the client and asking intelligent questions around value, meaning, client funding, politics, background, and context, our discovery process uncovered that the architecture of the proposal was one important message, but not necessarily the key winning factor.
In fact, the nature of the emotional experiential, access and pathways, and the emotional development and feeling of community and celebration that the Sidney Myer Music Bowl potentiates – and how this development can elevate it’s experiential and community nature was a more important and overriding message within the architectural and landscape framework.
We led the discussion on what type of feeling we would like to induce in a short promotional visual communication message with limited budget. Would they like a community sense of Carols by Candlelight through to a rock concert? In the end, a rock concert with pumping music and a crowd cheering in the mosh pit in the beautiful context and sunset of Melbourne’s skyline was chosen.
Story elements of access from the famous St Kilda Road tram stops, gate locations, easy ticketing, zones for different experiences and the wonderful viewing options available from the intelligent design were all integrated into a compelling visual communications narrative.
Mineral Technologies Mobile Processing Plant
Mineral Technologies (MinTech) is a subsidiary of Downer EDI Engineering.
Context and challenge
MinTech had a new Mobile Minerals Processing product to take to market which was not actually yet completed. It was a draft product in pre-production which had a significant development cost.
The challenge was, there was no order book yet for the product, and thus the project was in danger from a commercial viability perspective. The product itself had a ticket price of approximately a million dollars each, and they needed orders.
MinTech and Downer are a great brand, and though there was competition in the market, we were certain we could bring them market share and an order pipeline with the right visual communication tools.
We took the client through a comprehensive discover process with a series of probing questions to understand their business model, their differentiation, their competitive advantage, their ideal clients, their clients personality including their locations and geographies including Africa, Australia, and South America.
We undertook an analysis of their competitors and their competitors’ advertisements and branding to assess how we could help them differentiate and stand out from the crowd.
We analysed their context and clients deeply to develop a unique brand expression to build the market mindset as a foundation for a series of narrative advertisements across a range of products to create an integrated product launch strategy.
We analysed the type of places they will use these visual communication tools, images and 3D animations – such as conferences and key events, documents, website, youtube and understood their sales funnel and sales workflows.
We built a set of concept images and story board frames that took the customer though a contextualised journey to understand the product and its differentiators and advantages.
A beautiful set of 3D animations were build for sales-driven visual communications tools.
Happily, after the launch of our communication products, the order book for MinTech filled up quickly, with a sustainable pipeline far exceeding their expectations. The ideal outcome was to achieve 3-4 orders, and they doubled that quickly, and then exceeded it.
Further team experiences and results
MTM Dumb Ways to Die: 247M+ views (YouTube). Multi-platform campaign rollout. Massive reach and appeal. 10-20% incident reduction.
Major Transport Infra Vic: Sole panel provider. 10 yr contract. >200 videos. 10m’s views. News, FB, insta. From 1-1 engage by house to broad-range. Built the political profile of leaders.
MTM Rail Inductions Vic: Preferred supplier. >10 rail induction for 1,000 – 2,000 drivers, train controllers, signal technicians. Complete buy-in.
Sydney Trains campaign: 10,000 staff engagement. Complex network change messaging. ATP. Hornsby. Signalling. High internal engagement, reduced staff turnover and leave. Won $200m funding.
Services Australia: Focus Group driven. 15K+ staff views. 97% staff awareness. ELT endorsed.
State of Origin: 4.5M views (combined markets). 89% completion rate. 20M+ page impressions. Award winning
Titanic II: Worldwide campaign. Interactive website. 5M+ Total Site Traffic. 750K+ Reach.
Your Skills Your Future: QLD Government. TV / Radio / Social. 250K+ reach. 229% enquiry increase.
Urban Edge: TV / Radio / Web. Low cost per view (CPV). 178% enquiry rate increase. Low cost per conversion (CPC).
Frankston Hospital Upgrade. Construction bid. Detailed target audience analysis. Multiple stakeholder input. Won.