Animation : Low-Cost PreVis by Karen "Kay" Ross

Karen "Kay" Ross

Low-Cost PreVis

Hey, my Stage32 Animators!

I'd love to know your thoughts - there's been lots of talk about changing projects currently in development from live-action to animation. One way to test this out is to make a trailer, pitch video, or other pre-visualization as animated.

What low-cost (but high impact) form of animation would you suggest for these filmmakers?

Comment below and tag a friend or five!

Kory Alexander

From observation, and from an impact standpoint, it seems like 3d animation is the way to go. Studios like Halon Entertainment & The Third Floor are great. I believe their work flow is inherently cost efficient, and I'm pretty sure they have the capabilty of remaining flexibile with their services according to the budget.

Another route, which I think would be the most rewarding, would be to assemble a team of animators & artist who all believe in you, your idea, and share a similar passion in bringing that idea to life. If there is some sort of value that you can offer them, perhaps they would be willing to collaborate with you.

Steven Vandrilla

We felt we needed a strong visual to help sell the "Boo's PaperWorld" and used a 3D animation company that believed in the project... they produced 4 minutes and we paid for 1 minute(they will benefit when it sells). I was the screenwriter for it and it was good enough to get a writer and screenwriter with work on amazon and Netflix to sign on to the project as well as a production studio with 3 Emmy Awards. It got us to the point that we have a final production budget for the series and are ready to raise funding.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Wow, thanks for that Kory Alexander! Really insightful stuff! Steven Vandrilla that's a really great idea! Do you find the 25/75 split is common for backend compensation? Did you also grant them profit share?

Nate Wubu

I'm actually looking to offer previs of scripts as a service. I think it can be a force multiplier in a writer getting their idea sold. In fact I'm looking for a cinematic script right now to create a sample to show other clients so this is opportunity knocking if anyone has a script they would be interested in having turned into a previs cinematic please send it to me and if it's a good fit you can get a quick cinematic to use to sell your script!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Hey, Nate Wubu! Awesome! Do you have a website or reel? Definitely post it on the Your Stage Lounge to promote your new service:

A friend of mine does it, and this is his website as an example:

Erick Freitas

This is helpful! Thanks!

Sayed Rohani

Hi Karen E Ross,

I hope you are in good health. As you are dealing with films, let me explain something, which, I am sure, you are aware of too. I have seen films, which have incurred huge budget but their stories are humdrum and dry. Comparing my stories with theirs, I find mine quite interesting and exciting, plus educationally prolific. I wonder why those producers and filmmakers are not taking advantages of good stories to at least offset their expenses, time, and efforts.

Best wishes,

Sayed H. Rohani

Karen "Kay" Ross

Sayed Rohani This is a great topic to post in the Producing Lounge for the community to jump in and discuss! Would you do me a favor and start the conversation? If you post, I'll comment to jumpstart the conversation:

Karen "Kay" Ross

Part of the reason I ask is because I remember seeing a short film at a festival once that was basically flash animation - 2D assets that are moved in fore-, middle-, and background to mimic motion, and it actually worked really well! Kory Alexander Steven Vandrilla Nate Wubu - Would you endorse hiring a 2D artist and use something like AE to include motion?

Steven Vandrilla

my cousins husband used story boards with music and a narrator to pitch a Billion dollar project that was a theme park in the ocean under a clear dome. His company zoomed in and out and panned the story boards while the narrator described the scenes... it was a 5 minute pitch using several story boards. It was very impressive.

Nate Wubu

I'm betting anything you can do to stand out would bring you above the noise. So many scripts these days. It's less taxing on the brain to watch a vid than to read a screenplay. If you have a couple bucks you def should see what your script (or even a page or two of it) would look like as an animatic. I'm curious to know if anyone has had success using this method??

Stephen Tako

I've got a question. My children's book was recently made into a video on YouTube. Junga the Dancing Yeti. And the editor took the pictures from the book and as Karen described, the images panned in, out, left, right, up and down to make it look like movement. The illustrations are great and the VO and music quite nice. Would this be considered 2D animation?

Vincent Paterno

I'm definitely interested in this topic, as my "Stand Tall!" rom-com (aka the adventures of 16-foot-1 1/8 Vegas showroom headliner Colleen Cossitt and her six-foot scientist-manager-boyfriend Keswick Fletcher) would seemingly be ideal to adapt to animated form in these social-distancing times. What animation style would work best? Its two chief locations are Keswick's laboratory/home (a converted trucking warehouse, with sufficient headroom for a giant) and the casino's showroom and adjacent dressing room (where Colleen can perform and change with minimal difficulty).

Laurie Ashbourne

I don't buy into the rush that Covid is a reason to animate content. Whether it's adult animation (which is skyrocketing now) or the more typical family fare, the story should dictate the form. To wit: Bojack Horseman is a man with a horse head, it should be animated. The reality is, that even the simplest animation takes twice the amount of production time than live action, so a script developed today, would likely not be through production until well into next year, when (fingers crossed) we all be back on set. All that said, you need a character designer and vis. dev artist, pre viz software is not going to sell a project.

Cee Whirx

I have a film project in development titled 'Sika Senshi Deer Guardian'. I'm now planning to co-direct the animation with a buddy of mine, but I'm not saying who.

Antoine Cunningham

Hey, all to my "EX-140"'s Fans. Hey here are a few (Dummy) examples of our (Pre-Beta) (Crowdfunding Investment) "EX-140" Campaign Movie poster ideas. I hope you like them. This movie is going to be (Freak 'in) Amazing!

Please keep supporting me and my team on this project.


#film #crowdfunding #animation #movies #vfx #3danimation #animator #filmmaking #maya #3d #movie #shortfilm #filmproduction #crowdfundingcampaign #conceptart #cinematic #films #raisingfunds #fundraising

Neil Hunsdale

i use adobe animate. You can probably hire

a freelancer to do it for a reasonable price. A lot less than an animation company i expect. Its only suitable for 2d animation, but you could probably find a 3d animator freelancer too.

William 'JPop' Schumpert

Flash animation has gotten better in quality over the years. Like the first takes on animation in 1910s it started very rough. For a time I couldn’t stand it. Examples like the rebooted ‘Ducktales’ and the final season of ‘Samurai Jack’ show great potential. Like to get back into experimenting with it.

Laurie Ashbourne

Flash is obsolete and will be officially retired December of this year. Adobe animate and Html5 have for years been pushing it out. That said, Ducktales uses ToonBoom/Harmony Pro -- which many TV shows do. TV paint is also popular among traditional 2D animators.

William 'JPop' Schumpert

Forgot about ToonBoom. It’s been a while since I looked into the animation process, what with the day job and writing.

Neil Hunsdale

Adobe animate is essentially flash, so although flash is obsolete, you can do pretty much everything flash did with Animate and export as a video. Laurie Ashbourne

Steve Mallinson

Has anyone tried Movistorm yet? It's been around a while, and I know the founder, Andrew Kennedy, who is member on here. I'll ask him to comment. I know he's been very busy with the next gen Moviestorm product which allows worlds to be created and developed using off the shelf consumer VR kit. Watch this space...

Gianni Nugoli

I have read many wrong answers. Adobe Flash is the worst program to animate with ... it's used a lot but that doesn't make it the best. Unfortunately, there are too many incapable ones who call themselves Animators just because they know how to do something with Flash. Animation is something more sacred and elevated. The best program is Moho Pro or OpenToonz. 2D Animation is the best because it goes beyond reality ... on a technical level you could opt for a "Motion Graphic" style (or Pupet Animation), much used today and in any case very cheap but you could also use a frame by frame for trailer, in order to convey that humanity ... or why not, mix everything.

Andrew Kennedy

Steve Mallinson - thanks for the intro! It is actually pertinent timing as we are about ready to reach out to a broader audience for some timely feedback.

By way of introduction, as Steve suggests, Moviestorm is a small UK-based developer/publisher of 3d animated filmmaking tools. Our pioneering machinima product 'Filmmaker' first appeared in 2005, and has been used by a few hundred thousand filmmakers, mostly amateur enthusiasts looking for affordable filmmaking, but also a lot of professionals looking for low cost previs.

About 5 years ago we started a R&D project with a EU consortium looking at natural user interfaces (NUI) for creative previsualisation. That successfully finished a year ago, and since then we have been productising those results in an effort to create a low cost virtual pre-production tool, that through the NUI approach should allow non-technical production teams of any size to remotely collaborate in realtime via VR to explore production ideas, removing the need for travel or direct face-to-face interaction. It should deliver the insights required to confidently move ahead with live production, and the work created can also be an input to kick-start Virtual Production. We cannot find another tool like this on the market that is available for filmmakers to download and use themselves without professional service fees, so we are seeking reassurance and guidance.

Called 'FirstStage', it has a Sketchup-style set builder to create your own sets without the need for 3d artists, character posing, animation and mocap to plan live action, and camera and collaboration tools. Our intention is to allow most film previs team members an affordable platform to explore and perform their role, virtually, and at this stage we are hoping that those professionals would be keen to get involved and contribute to it's direction as we move to a robust Open Beta that delivers against a number of important previs use cases before the end of the year.

You can read more about FirstStage at

The pertinent timing is that I have a draft questionnaire (not too onerous) and we are looking for suitable communities that are keen to engage. We fully appreciate that these are difficult times, and that everyone is busy ensuring their professional survival, but does this sound like something that you'd all like to get involved with?

Looking forward to your responses!


Gerrin Tramis - Illustrative Movie Poster Artist

I think it's where the heart is. 3D animation, anime, children's programming. Whichever the genre and medium you love most, make that. It will show. Just make it look professional and on par with the competition. If you can't produce animation, hire those that can.

Bob Harper

Flash or now Animate CC is being used at many studios including Teen Titans at Warner Bros. TV. It is cheaper and easier to learn than Harmony - maybe Gianni Nugoli may consider me someone who isn't that talented because I have been using that software professionally for top studios including Cartoon Network, Disney TV and DreamWorks TV for the past decade and a half.

Gianni Nugoli

Bob Harper, you notice the decadence of an animation or a TV series, made with Flash ... do you want to compare the people who create symbols and interpolations to the art of the nine old men? come on ... if you are a real animator it is for how you know how to apply the principles of animation and acting .... it is not the program that makes you an artist in one go. Flash wasn't even invented for animation ... what are we talking about? It had its moment, its importance and influence in making animation ... but heck, it's not the best tool for creating 2D animations.

Bob Harper

Comparing any TV series to the art of Nine Old Men would be a ridiculous comparison for any software or traditional. You are aware how much time and money goes into feature animation - right? I'm not sure what you mean by the decadence of TV series done in Flash. I am aware that Flash wasn't intended for animation but I and several other Flash users who were with it back in the Macromedia days helped shape it for a useable animation tool and have produced award-winning series for TV with it. You are the one that lumped Flash users as nonprofessional and I'm defending all of those us who have used the tool to produce some nice work. No - Flash is not the best tool for creating animation, but it is good enough for those who know how to animate to produce quality work in spite of your prejudices.

Raphael Kling David

If you have a good script the animation doesn't matter (imo)

William 'JPop' Schumpert

Animation is a very loose term. I agree that the work from the Nine Old Men could never be matched in this day and age. I still look at Fantasia to be the greatest examples of American Animation. But it’s not dictated towards just one source of creation. So many different techniques have been used- hand drawn, rotoscope, retroscope, claymation, CGI, stop motion, xerox, flash. They can all be given unbelievable presentations and look terrible. Japan still draws by hand, and scans the copies to put together the animation. South Park first started with cut outs that had to be changed with each frame. The use of computers is just a new tool for the trade.

Jackie Tarascio

My guess is a couple paintings of set or world, lead character designs, and an animation test to show the style. 2D is cheaper because you don’t need to build and rig the character. But if it’s a 3D project I would think a 3D test would be helpful in a pitch.

Other topics in Animation:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In