If you have a project that's ripe for animation, it can be a little tricky to find the right motion design studio for you. There's a lot to choose from and more popping up all the time.
It can be overwhelming to sort through them all, so let's go over some things to narrow down your search to a select few. The Pareto principle says that 20% of your effort yields 80% of the results. Let's get you down to the percentage that counts.
How to Choose the Right Motion Design Studio
It should go without saying that you should take a good look at their portfolio. I'd start with their reel first. Does it look like something that grabs your interest? Is it professional looking and polished? Does it make to dig deeper? Are you seeing a style that can be compatible with your brand? Do they have fresh and creative ideas? If you answer yes to those questions then proceed to take a look at their full body of work. If not then move on to the next studio.
A studio that does only motion design is the best solution. Rather than a video production company that does the occasional animated video. Working with a studio that shares your style and aesthetic is crucial. The more varied the work, the better. It means they are good at a variety of styles, tones, and subject matter. This is important to creating a balanced solid video and shows that they can approach a subject with different solutions. Whether you need a broadcast commercial, an explainer video, product demo, or sponsored content, don't go for the one-trick pony.
2. Do They Care About My Project?
Talk to them and you'll see if you get personal attention and ask the right questions or if they are going through the motions. Sometimes studios and brands just don't click. They may not care about what you are doing or what you stand for. In some cases, they may be in exact opposition to your brand. Don't waste your time on these studios. If they take your project they would be taking it for the payday and not be putting their heart into it. The great thing about motion design, is the good players in the industry are passionate about what they do. Consequently, they want to make the absolute best work for the brands they work for. If asked 9 out of 10 motion designer's what was most important to them, they would answer "making awesome high-quality work." To get that level of commitment, enthusiasm, and dedication there needs to be an interest in the subject. Don't worry, you'll find someone interested in what you are doing. It seems like motion designers come in all flavors and run the full spectrum.
3. Can you work with them?
Making a video is a time-consuming process, so it's important that you like the production team and be happy to work with them. The level of communication needs to be compatible, and you need to be able to tell them how you feel about the work at various stages of the project. Avoid "yes" men and brown-nosers. They need to have the confidence to have an honest conversation with you as well. Will you have a direct line to the creatives, or are there alot of middle-men "non-creatives" in the way? How will communication and edit requests be handled? If they don't inspire you, then most likely they are not the right fit. Pro-tip: A great way to get a good idea about their personality is to take a look at their website, blog and writing style. It can reveal a lot about a company. You can usually tell who is genuinely trying to help and who is being self-serving. Is their website client focused or is it a tribute to their ego?
A good reference or testimonial goes a long way in proving that the studio treats it's clients the right way. A satisfied client list is a good sign that they are stable and trustworthy company. Ask to see a few of the companies latest videos that they did within quoted budget. What do they think is the most important aspect of the client relationship during the production process? Did they give them a cookie-cutter solution, or was it project customized to the client?
5. Do they understand your business?
Have they had success within your industry? Do you really want to teach them on the job? For emerging technologies, this may be a bit harder to pinpoint. If they have worked with other tech companies, most likely they will be able to understand yours. Test them, ask them some question and throw some industry jargon at them. Are they able to grasp the basic concepts and eager to learn more?
6. Request A Proposal.
Let's say that you and your spouse have a family with 4 children, and you need a new car. Would you buy a small car like the mini cooper, because it was the cheapest available? It is sporty and a lot cheaper than alternatives, but you can't fit all your family in there. That's what people do when when budget is their only concern. They forget about their needs and compromise on utility for price point. Getting a bargain basement animated video that only kind of works is harmful to your brand and it wastes money. Make sure you get the video that suits your needs and makes you look good. The studio that understands the right market value for your unique situation has the best chance at delivering the video that's right for you. To get that, they are going to have a consultation with you in which they ask you a bunch of questions. Then they will put together a written proposal for you.
Now, I have a very detailed custom proposal that I make for serious work inquiries. You will get info on rates, services, case studies, testimonials… all the usual things you see in a proposal. You will also receive a detailed project evaluation. I give some concrete options based on our initial consultation and recommended video strategy to achieve your goals. To wrap it up, there is a pricing guideline, a complete budget breakdown, and an average project timeline
Approach a maximum of three studios for proposals. This gives you some solid options to compare and contrast studios without being unfair to them. Consider the proposal like a pitch-light. You not asking them to do spec work, which a lot of studios nowadays refuse. You are asking for a thoughtful bid, case studies and some approaches to consider.
Animated video is a vital part of modern marketing. It's success or failure can greatly impact your bottom line. Getting it right requires a skilled studio that is compatible with your brand. The studio you select has the potential to be a long-term partner, therefore it's important to ask the right questions and do the necessary research. Best of luck on your project!