What Animation Writers Need to Know

Sometimes the truth hurts, and many potentially hurtful truths go unsaid as a result. Here, from Stage32.Com, are basic truths every writer starting out in animation definitely needs to know. In other words, this knowledge definitely is worth the pain:

Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “The Magicks of Megas-Tu” & its cast of not-quite-thousands

by Bob Harper

“Animation is so liberating. I can write whatever I imagine!”

We’ve all heard this sentiment phrased one way or another. It’s true that practically anything that can be dreamed up can be animated, but someone actually has to animate it. So, the question is, “Just because you can imagine it, should you write it?”

As both a writer and an animation director, I’ve seen some scripts that make animators as crazy as Daffy Duck. I have actually been guilty of writing such scripts.

Animated features are usually developed and written by directors with writers. Established shows have set budgets and standards in place, so my advice is for those trying to sell a show, especially to a smaller company with a smaller budget, or for those who want to produce their own content. Here are some points to consider when writing a script that might help keep animators from jumping out a window.

1) Page Count

Animation scripts are formatted the same as live action. However, most animation scripts have more descriptive text, thus resulting in higher page counts.

I have seen eleven minute scripts as high as twenty pages, and as low as eight. Neither work without some major overhaul. Usually, 11 to 16 pages work well.

I have seen writers try to cheat the page count “rule” by having mostly dialog pages with very little descriptive text. As a director, I find that 8 pages of just dialog are about right for an 11-minute script. The trick is to balance dialog and description to tell the story in the best way possible.

2) Convey Your Idea Clearly

When writing descriptive text, be descriptive! Sounds simple, right? How much descriptive text is needed to convey an idea? There is no need for a dissertation that would fill a Star Wars crawl. On the other hand, there needs to be more than just a casual mention of detail on something that is important to the story.

Here are some examples…

Read it all at Stage 32