What Producing An Animation Series Is Like For A College Student

Throughout the course of our lives, the animation industry has drastically changed thanks to those in the industry (especially now due to the current events of the world). Due to this change, the barrier of entry has vastly shifted, allowing fresh faces into the market.

The birth of the internet created a new medium for stories to be told – and with it a starting generation to learn the new lands and pass down their knowledge to the next generation (Common knowledge through tutorials, pointers/critiques through conversation, or inspiring through their work). The original generation led the internet industry frontier as websites such as Newgrounds and YouTube sprouted, allowing freelancers to sprout with it.

Some notable community members include Oxob, Teckoiz, Kobra Editing, Krinkels , Alan Becker, Oscar Johansson, and even Hyun himself who went on to create The Dojo and recently Anim8, an animation blog where you can watch animations.

Animation Blog
Animation Blog
Animation Blog
Animation Blog

As time went on and the new industry was explored then learned, the field began forcibly changing due to innovations and the ever-expansive increases in better technology. This allowed fresh faces of which were inspired from the original generation to learn from and grow to surpass the originals in time! One of these new faces would include myself.

Hi – nice to meet you. My name is Oodie. I am producing my own animation series while in college.

Picture of Me
Highschool Graduation

Every member listed above and so many more who were not listed have inspired me to create my own series. Watch animations of False Perfections, an ongoing multi-season animated project free on YouTube under the alias The Perfect Being, currently spanning a total of Over 5 hours over the course of 14 episodes. And I’m going to tell you how I did it.

Watch Animations
Watch DFWatch Animation: Season 1 Episodic compilation

My goal with all of this is to do what I listed above: To inform and inspire the next generation who will grow and learn from my experiences in order to one day surpass me! For those reading this who haven’t started… Start. It is easier than you think, and this post will prove that to you.

Animation Blog
Animation BlogBTS

To provide some backstory, I am 21 years old and as the title suggests, I am still in college. I’m currently taking 4 summer classes and working 3 jobs. (Yeah, trust me, I know.) But to go back, I have always been a storyteller. I wanted to become a director when I grew up and created several shorter length live-action series/skits throughout my childhood. My first attempt at a real story with an actual movie was in the 7th grade. It was inspired from the Hunger Games, and went on to script out 10 seasons. I even made a movie trailer for it… Feel free to make fun of it!

I have scripted out other series and movies as well as television shows, video games, graphic novels/comics/mangas/webtoons, etc. Every visual medium you can imagine. However after being inspired by an RPG maker game called To The Moon, in the Summer of 2015, I came up with the idea for False Perfections. Over the course of the next year, I wrote out the concept and attempted to learn how to animate using free animation software such as Flash 8, Krita, and Blender, and the RPG maker system while I simultaneously created everything I needed from scratch (with some help). I soon realized that I could more easily create the project into a Visual Novel so that I could see how it works as a real, physical concept. To this day, I have to recommend and applaud Cloud Novel for its ease of use in making projects when compared to other options of adapting an idea into a product.

False Perfections Original Poster
Original Poster

After releasing the demo, I realized I had potential in other visual mediums for this series, and decided against the RPG maker version for now. With the change of visual mediums/platforms to work with, I had to learn how to adapt on the fly. Instead of continuing with the simplicity that (at the time) was the cloud novel limitations, I realized that I should once again switch to something else to do more complex work. I could have stuck with the Visual Novel, but now that I had a tangible project, I realized that it was overall better to switch to an animated version so I am not sacrificing quality while also targeting a much more broad audience rather than just the specific niche RPG maker and Visual novel communities. However, it is important to never cut ties. It may just be a demo, but it is one more adaptation of the series. Instead of choosing one medium to adapt a series to, why not as many as possible?

After coming to this realization, I have attempted to target as many different audiences as possible through something that started as an idea. From plays, to an anime, to a novel trilogy (each with a free trial edition, a kindle edition, and a physical book), and even merch and figurines (3d printed, designed in a free software called Tinker-cat)! With the creation of more and more product, my series was slowly transforming from some guys passion project into something that can be business friendly and marketed as a brand! Similarly, I have been able to learn several different software and have worked with different types of people through the wide variety of adaptations I am creating. Heck, look at me now: Writing an animation blog. From an idea to the stick community. All of this because I decided to adapt it into as many forms as possible, including a stick fight at the beginning of the animated series.

Yin Vs Yang Full Stick Animation
Created by DS Naus

This sounds great, but there are catches. Inspiration: The stick community inspired me, so I added a stick fight. I did not inherently add one because I wanted to reach the stick audience, I added one because I wanted a cameo of something I am passionate about. Similarly in another example, I am passionate about parkour. So, I am in the process of creating a chase scene in a city. Going off of that, I am able to collaborate with the heroes who inspired me in the first place. For parkour, I am working with parkour athletes to create a real-life choreography/film to adapt into an animation specifically FOR the series (similarly to what Mob Psycho 100 S2 Op did).

The greatest benefit from having different adaptations is the experience as a producer. Before False Perfections, I never worked with other people in this regard, I had no presentable products, and I had no experience in a wide variety of these fields. With the more I learn, the more efficient my personal impact on the series will be, and the better direction I can give while directing others. Even now, the most recent new skill I am working towards is scheduling a live script recording session with Voice Actors for the upcoming movie. This will be different than giving information and inspiration through writing the most efficient direction I can in as few words as possible.

It may not seem like it, but this (along with marketing, and the pre/post production process) are such specific yet complex skills that are best learned by doing. Because False Perfections is the first animated series I have produced of this magnitude, the production quality from episode one to the season finale has increased so drastically from working on the series itself. Through several different platforms, and working with a variety of individuals who are each selected to be the best for the budget and have something unique they can offer. It is essential to keep these individuals happy and informed as a director, producer, and human being. Knowing when to use each is a learned skill. Remember: Reciprocity is key!

I have naturally made several mistakes in the production side of the series, but I try to have no regrets. It is best to learn from and prevent future mistakes as soon as one is noticed or brought up to you. Something I have learned is that despite all of the experience working on a project may grant creators, it is impossible to create on your own. At least, large-scale projects on a limited time-frame. The best option is to stick to your guns! Try and learn as much as possible, but as a creator, there is one skill that you should exceed at. Similarly, the individuals who make up your team should also have tasks that they specialize in. This is economics. The marginal benefit from each individual will eventually diminish when projects grow too large. This is not to say that the maximum amount of work is being done, but that each worker is doing as much as they efficiently can. Because of this, it is important to know who, and how many to hire. This can be 99% of the work on a project if done right. Let me stress… Be sure to do this right.

False Perfections Episode 13 Season 1 Finale
Season 1 Finale

Of course when working with people, especially on a long running series, it is important to set both goals and a schedule. My best advice would be to start as early as possible. I began collecting voice acting lines a full year before the debut of episode 1. Similarly, I did not release episode 1 until episode 4 was complete, as I knew I had to stay ahead to meet my goal of weekly episodes through episode 13 which was the season 1 finale. I had to calculate every part of the process from both the perspective of myself and from those who I work with. I can speak on the fact that animation seems to be the longest process of all, typically spanning well over a month for each sequence. On average, music would be next with around 1 month per complete song, followed by art which can take a few weeks, and finally voice acting which can be done in about a week. Of course this all depends on the complexity of each area, but these are basic ratios for broad areas of production. After understanding this process for others, understand what YOU can do. For example: I am currently the only editor, writer, choreographer, producer, and asset collector. Each of these roles play a significant impact on the quality of a product. Of all of my roles, I would say Producer is the job I stick to the most, despite being the only individual on other areas as well.

For time references: My personal experience would be the writing happens when it happens. It took me 1-3 months to fully finish a script/novel from scratch when actively writing it. However, I find passive writing is the best buffer for writing as it allows me to build a foundation. Active writing is filling in the gaps and rewriting scenes to make sense when flowing them together while also keeping themes, actions, writing, and plot consistent. In addition to this, passive writing creates excitement for the project rather than burn out as if it is something good enough to write down, it is a great inspiration. It may be surprising, but passive writing makes up most of writing!
Basic Editing can be an average of 1 hour per minute of content created. However, as the project grew more complex, Advanced Editing grew to an average of 2-3 hours per minute. The editing took on average 1-2 weeks for most episodes, and 20-50 hours on each episode with the finale being an outlier of 100+ hours at around 40 minutes of episodic content. Being the finale, it is by far the most complex episode!

False Perfections Animation In Review
Series in Review

All this being said, it is good to calculate all of these to try and line up at an equilibrium. However, with the more assets collected, the easier other processes may become. For example: If you collect all of the voice lines early, each episode can be outlined with the voices in order, each take for each line being confirmed and placed in, and the timing of each line to evoke the type of editing you assume to use. This can make the editing process easier, and potentially may help others in the direction if you can have a concept to show to those working on their assigned task. It would really help a music producer to set the BPM and atmosphere if they have a reference. When I was working on the series, I calculated the work of myself and others to try and line up everyone finishing their work at the same time in the season finale. The most difficult decision through this journey has been calculating when to release episode 1. Once released, you have officially crossed the point of no return. The safe answer would be to wait, but MY answer is to make your best judgement, and to learn from your mistakes!

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