Discover this colourful cast of characters, created for Netflix's animated code of conduct training film.
Netflix commissioned us to make a training film which was a bit less errr, training filmy... Brightening up what is traditionally an informational (dull) format using a lively narrative, a fun cast of characters and appealing visuals. The animation combines serious and factual moments, with more light-hearted character sequences. Creating a mix of humour and facts that help to keep the viewer engaged with the messaging. The film was designed to be shown to all new and existing employees, worldwide.
The final Netflix Training Film was over half an hour-long, so the above film is an edit, featuring a selection of our favourite characters throwing some shapes…
Producing this animation was an epic task. To break it down, we separated the script into 26 chapters. Treating each one as a stand-alone scene which joined together seamlessly into one master edit. We also needed two versions, one for the US and another for international employees. With the producers busy planning, our first step was to create the lead narrators who would introduce each chapter of content.
The main challenge was to design characters that would appeal to adults and be entertaining to watch. We all decided shape-based characters rather than realistic human forms was the way to go. With this in mind our character development began:
Style number three were the clear winners. After a little more finessing our lead characters were born! We had three main characters narrating who were each assigned their own section of the script. Along with a colourful background which would become their own unique space.
Their bodies were illustrated with rough textures, producing a handmade look. While strong facial features meant they could be animated with lots of expression. And most importantly, as narrators, it was essential to lip-sync in time to the voice-over.
In contrast to the 2D character designs, we placed them into a simplified 3D setting. Forming depth to the worlds they inhabited and only adding background props when required for the narrative.
Being tasked with nearly 40 minutes of content, meant we needed a vivid and creative execution for the character movement and expressions. It needed to be engaging yet streamlined. Using complex transferrable setups we were able to deliver emotive poses in a shorter timeframe without compromising on quality.
Creating subtle layers of parallax with the body and facial elements, we lifted the movement whilst keeping the initial simplicity of the character design. This short video shows the rigged character.
A secondary cast of characters came next. These guys helped illustrate specific issues and scenarios brought up in the script.
As much as we loved our main characters, we wanted to mix up these sections with more serious infographic sequences. This helped create a visual break but also struck a good balance between entertainment and representing serious issues sensitively. Although some of these sections were in a contrasting style, we used the same colour palettes. Occasionally narrators interacted with the infographics, creating smooth ways to transition from one style to the next. Ultimately allowing all elements to join together seamlessly into one film.
Working with such a complex script, it was clear scheduling and time management was going to be key to this production. Fred & Eric's expert animation producers worked tirelessly to keep the production moving and hit each deadline. Recording and cutting voice-overs before the characters were ready for animation. Keeping the storyboarding and design going, while the animation was getting underway, making sure one wouldn't overtake the other. Timing the character animation sequences so the compositors could place them into their 3D worlds. All while checking in with the client and collecting feedback which slotted seamlessly into their water-tight schedules! Working with a large team on a relatively tight schedule was nothing new to the whole team, so things ran smoothly under the producer's experienced eyes!
Netflix Training Film Post Production
With the animation sections completed, checked and checked again, we edited the final film into one complete sequence. Now all there was to do was design the sound and add sound effects. This injected a whole new level of energy and fun to the narrative.
The US version completed, we re-edited and created new scenes for the international film. Leaving us with just enough time for a cuppa, before we were on to our next project!