Unlike most of my other projects, the client had already been collecting information and interviewing content experts before they contacted me to spin up this animation. As a communications professional, he was also familiar with writing for video and "spoken" content. So in this unique case, the client wrote most of the script. I contributed a few edits to smooth out the language and make sure it all flowed for animation. Easiest. Script. Ever.
The purpose of the project was to act as a compliment to the "Sand to Silicon" video (see below) that Intel had previously created (and is in the process of updating). While "Sand to Silicon" focused almost exclusively on the manufacturing portion of chip development, this animation would cover the gamut, from a very high level, from concept to landing in the hands of a customer.
Some of you may have the thought that 'Chip' reminds you of a certain MS Office helper named "Clippy." This was intentional for a couple reasons - first: to give us a character we could follow for continuity, and two: because it was fun and cheeky.
If you've viewed any of my other projects, you'll know that no art shall come before the critical step of 'storyboarding'. Simple drawings to communicate the visual accompaniment to what will be spoken in the narration so that both I, the artist, and the client can come to understand what should be shown at a given point.
For this animation, I would need to have a lot more characters than I usually include. One of the goals was to show not just the process of chip development, but the people involved! In addition, we were going to have an anthropomorphized "Chip" as our narrator and guide. I needed a simple enough style that would keep the audience from getting distracted from the primary motion while still being robust enough to look slick.
To fill in large areas of solid color, rather than build everything in Illustrator during the art phase, I made plans to use the CircuitFX plugin for After Effects to create an animated pattern of circuitry that ties the animation together.
One of the benefits of being the Art Director, illustrator, and animator means I can think ahead in ways that is not always easy if I were in a more pipeline-oriented shop. I can hold off on illustration until I'm sure a scene is working as planned as well as easily go back and adjust/change/enhance artwork as needed.
In addition to using CircuitFX for a textural element, I used DUIK Bassel to rig several of the characters. Even for simple motion or single limbs, it's a time saver with the Inverse Kinematics (IK). To animate Chip's mouth I found Adobe's Character Animator to be surprisingly powerful, if a little non-intuitive in spots. It's also unnerving just how attuned our brains are to minute mouth shapes and eye movement! Two or three pixels can be the difference between look at the viewer, and "looking past" them.