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3 Ways to Take the Stress Out of Animation Rush Jobs

Things move fast in the world of marketing and advertising – and they don’t always move as intended. It’s not rare for your client to come with a request because of a priority change on their side, to notice an unexplored opportunity in the middle of a campaign or maybe encounter a problem with something already developed. If any of those happen, you’ll need an immediate “fix” solution. That’s when that unavoidable part of life that creatives and marketing professionals hate so much appears: The Rush jobs.

While we all may want to, it’s impossible to prevent animation rush jobs. You can only hope to limit them. However, an unexpected project with a short turnaround does not have to mean the end of creativity and an onset of panic. The right animation partner can get the job done while helping everyone keep their cool. 

3 Keys to Navigating Rush Animation Projects 

There are many reasons to avoid speeding through an animation project. Not only because of its complex and intricate process, following a standard timeline allows for the opportunity to investigate several possibilities and zero in on the right thematic approach, taking advantage of the full menu of animation options and maximizing the creative abilities of your animation team. Compressed timelines take away much of the room for that innovation and risk-free exploration. Instead, you’re left with tight deadlines and lots of anxiety.

Nonetheless, rush jobs, despite their difficult nature, can be campaign-savers, making it possible to respond to quickly changing circumstances and/or market conditions — an ever-present possibility in any fast-paced industry. And there’s that old adage about diamonds being formed under great pressure. That said, it does help to have a process that spreads the load and releases some of the tension.

At MOWE, we’ve learned (the hard way) that there’s a right and a wrong way to approach rush jobs: With excellent communication that builds trust, proper expectation setting, and some creative flexibility, animation rush jobs can still deliver standout results and keep everyone’s anxiety levels within reasonable limits. Focusing on these three areas helps to establish understanding, create greater alignment between you and your animation partner and make managing any urgent project easier. 

Effective Communication

Good communication practices are essential for any professional relationship. However, establishing open and responsive lines of dialogue is especially important when deadlines are short and feedback is needed right away to keep the creative process moving. 

To maximize the effectiveness of your communication efforts, work with your partner to clearly outline the goals of your project in a detailed creative brief and implement an internal approval structure that prioritizes speed as well as quality. The brief should relay a complete overview of the problem you’re trying to solve, what you’re trying to achieve and and both the whys and hows of why you believe this action will be able to solve the issue in hand. And in the cases where your new animation partner is taking over for another agency, because of a schedule or production problem, it’s important to provide context and background related to progress that has been achieved, including access to any assets and files that have been created.

It’s tempting (natural, even) to clam up about a previous partnership that failed to deliver promised results. However, remaining open and honest with your new animation team about what went wrong is the best way to create a positive environment, allow trust to grow and set the stage for a new, successful, and collaborative development process. 

(Re)Setting Expectations 

By definition, animation rush jobs don’t allow for the full array of creative possibilities. Depending on the scope and complexity of the project, there is simply not enough time to bring it to life as originally planned. The scope of that vision has to be scaled down and adjusted to fit the available time, resources and constraints. An experienced animation partner can walk your project stakeholders through the (at-times difficult) process of resetting expectations. This necessary conversation is a critical step, as it will help you to clearly identify:  

  • The priority for new deliverables (must-haves vs. nice-to-haves) 
  • Creative constraints (limitations placed on the animation process due to time considerations) 
  • A clear-cut project timeline and final deadline

The outcome of this process should be a new set of rules and a detailed plan that clearly identifies the responsibilities of the animation team (creative output) and client (approval/editorial decision making), and makes it easy to hold appropriate parties accountable. 

This is often the stage where the expertise of your animation partner will be crystal clear. An outfit just looking for an easy payday will quickly agree to almost any list of must-have deliverables (nevermind their actual ability to follow through on their promises). An experienced animation team that has your best interests at heart will act like a trusted consultant, asking questions, explaining what’s possible, providing well-supported explanations for what is not, and suggesting different approaches to achieve similar results.

Creative Flexibility

We know how hard it is to let go when you have arrived at a great creative direction for a project – Especially if it was approved by someone in the higher-ranks of the business. However, adapting to the realities of a new plan quickly is essential for the success of any animation rush job. 

A big part of that adjustment requires letting go of some of the creative and operational control that typically rests with production managers. This is the reason why it’s so important to set the right expectations and identify project constraints early on. The process contributes to trust-building and ensures that your animation studio partner has the elbow room necessary to make quick creative decisions in time-sensitive moments and keep up with the torrid pace of the production process.

Informing your partner and placing more creative control in their hands puts them in a better position to quickly and efficiently re-work and adjust content to the needs of the project, including: 

  • Suggesting adaptations to the script, storyboard or art direction to align with changing goals, budget and project timeline.
  • Choosing which elements and moments of the story could benefit more for having visually impactful animation; or, simplifying certain aspects of the animation to save budget and resources
  • Scaling down design complexity 
  • Finding ways to reinforce select aspects of the narrative to make the message more powerful 

An experienced animation studio knows exactly how much creative flexibility is required to turn around a rush job. But before you give up creative control, make sure your animation partner is a good fit for your project. The right one will be able to lead the process and demonstrate their ability to deliver before asking for your trust. 

Animation Rush Jobs Are Possible, But… 

Shouldn’t be the rule. Allowing time for creative explorations isn’t a luxury but a need if your optimal goal is to create something timeless and unique. When you cut corners, you also cut possibilities. 

Rush jobs will always exist. And while it’s never ideal, it’s still possible to complete an urgent animation project at lightning speed. However, picking the right team to support your project is essential. When time is short and your back is against the wall, you need an animation studio you can trust to get your rush job finished on-time, on-budget and to the satisfaction of all project stakeholders. sle
Mowe’s strategic vision and unique approach connects brands with audiences through memorable motion graphics. Our talented animation team is always ready to help agencies meet urgent creative goals. Let’s talk.

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Raff Marques
Raff Marques
Co-founder & Creative Director at MOWE Studio