How to Streamline Creative Workflow?

creative workflow management


Working only when inspiration strikes would be the ideal scenario for many creatives. However, this is not the case in the nowadays fast-paced reality. Creatives must optimize their working process, aiming for the most efficient project pipelines.

With the help of tools and scheduling, your ideal workflow is only a step away. We talked with George Shelbourn, director of MUTE Animation Studio, and Sam Murdoch, creative director at boutique design studio Ugly Duck, on how they optimize their creative workflow.

Building a Creative Workflow Template

creative workflow streamline

To have a schedule that works well for you, you should always start by creating a pipeline of steps and milestones to reach that end goal. Start by identifying the stages that you have to go through.

Sam’s team specializes in animation, so projects are a long process with various stages. He breaks down that the steps for animation production workflow as followed: “Script, storyboard, style tests, animation tests, full design & animation, and controlled rounds of amends.”

These steps may vary depending on the final media, but “It’s important that these stages are clearly defined with the client in written form at the start of the project so they know what to expect.”

 

organize animation production

Some creatives, like George, break the creative project workflow into larger steps. You’ve got pre-and post-production, and then outline the smaller steps within each stage.

Pre-production (creative direction, art direction, storyboarding, and illustration/design), through to Production (animation), and finish up with post-production (sound design, music sourcing, voiceover recording, and delivery).

Getting so much control over the process definitely leads to the best results as the creative direction, and the reasons for creating an animation in a specific way to answer the client’s initial brief, don’t get lost. – George about his team’s workflow

The production pipeline outlines the stages of the project so that you and your client have a clear idea of what the process entails.

What Elements are Vital to a Creative Agency Workflow?

planning animation production

A productive workflow has a few key elements. These will help carry you throughout your work and lead you to success:

  • Detailed planning
  • Steadfast organization
  • Efficient task allocation

All creatives want – is to create. But, even if it is sometimes difficult to control all the elements, it’s crucial to hold onto them.

Sam says that at his studio, “every project is unique so we start it with an open mind and aim to find the most efficient path.”

He takes a more technical approach to the planning process, with efficiency at the core. He also says that it’s important that “team members have defined the roles in that production and delegate the tasks accordingly.” Each person knows exactly what they need to optimize productivity.

Optimization

Optimizing productivity is something we weirdly enjoy at MUTE. Not just from a business perspective, but also one of making sure the people we work with have that extra bit of time to think a project through. – George says

Being detail-oriented, efficient, and technical doesn’t have to be a bore.

 

creative workflow chart

On the whole, schedules in our industry seem to be getting shorter and faster, so if there’s any way we can claw back time, we’ll take it. Keeping everything as organized as possible and having the whole project in mind as we move through each step of the animation process is a sure-fire way to do this.

The updates to your work are occurring constantly, so making the most out of the time you have is vital.

Creative Workflow Software to Optimize Your Media Production

Speaking of making the most out of your time, there are tools to help creatives streamline their workflow and get the hard job done. If you have strong elements in your workflow, as discussed above, you’re already off to a good start.

 

clean and creative advanced workflow

There are plenty of optimization apps that help you with your project pipeline, communication, and review process. These tools take the stress away from you and clear up any confusion associated with your project’s timeline.

Sam says that his team uses Slack for communication:

It’s a brilliant user-friendly platform for project management… everything is in one place, discussion, file transfer, and calls so it keeps an organized log of all exchanges throughout the project for later reference if required.

Often early on in freelance careers, creatives won’t use such tools to their full advantage. Sam said that early in his freelance career, he:

Would run projects out of email. And that now he sees that, the main benefit in using project management software such as Slack is that you never miss messages or files as they are all made easily accessible on the platform. Whereas in email, things can sometimes get buried if you have a busy email thread with multiple contributors.

This is a simple difference that can make workflow and projects pipelines infinitely easier.

 

creative process workflow

Choose The Right Software For Your Tea

George also uses project management tools to his and his team’s advantage. George didn’t have the learning curve of transitioning from in-office work to remote, since “MUTE started with a remote workflow.” So the team could keep up business as usual when the pandemic hit.

Similar to Sam, George’s studio relies on the help of tools that make project management and execution run smoothly. George says his company uses Google Drive to create internal workflow spreadsheets, proposal documents, quotes, schedules, and Dropbox for file management.

George says:

Both these tools make it easy to share each part of the animation process with clients, wherever we are and whenever they need it. Knowing you can leave the studio and not be totally cut off from our workflow is a huge relief.

Having a digital space where all your project assets would live, allows you to work from anywhere. And the best combination to help you navigate through your projects smoothly is project management plus a review system. Tools that combine these features and then some are usually the ones worth investing in.

You Can’t Predict Everything

workflow a practical guide to the creative process

Organization, efficiency, and having a workflow that carries you through to the end of your project are vital for creative success. However, it’s still impossible to predict everything. No matter how prepared you are and what digital tools you rely on, something will always mess you up.

Still, it’s important to set yourself and your company up for success so that fewer and fewer negative mistakes slow your work life down.

The most unpredictable element of any project workflow would have to be the client.” Off the bat, this makes sense. You can control many parts of the workflow process through the use of digital tools and well-managed teams. However, you can’t fully control the client. Sam says that the problem lies with “time spent between submission and feedback and lack of clarity in communication (that) can really slow a project down. – Sam says

Putting a wrench in the flow of your project is never good, especially when everything has been laid out by your pre-planned creative pipeline. When this happens, Sam recommends “working out a nice and clear process agreement for your client and speaking your mind politely. Communication is key.”

Each creative differs in what they view as the most unpredictable part of a new project.

For Sam, it’s the client, but for George, “the start of each new animation is the most unpredictable moment in a project.” This is because “there are so many variables right at the beginning, so having a foolproof workflow pays off as it grounds the whole animation process, regardless of the overall direction.”

You can’t predict all of the blunders that can occur with a new project. However, you can smooth up the unexpected issues if you have a system in place.

Choose the creative workflow management software that only combines features you would use daily. If you are big on planning but struggle with client communication, go for the apps that allow you to do both in the same space. Search for the platforms that would allow creating an efficient feedback system not only for you but your clients also.

Check out this project management and media review apps comparison chart.

creative team workflow

You can always try Krock as your main platform both for project management and media review. And if you are in the animation industry like Sam and George, you’ll find that Krock offers useful features for motion creation, like Storyboard builder and a One-Click Client Review.

Combined with the user-friendly interface, which requires no onboarding nither for the team or the clients, makes a strong option to help you operate all your projects. And with the integration os of all the usual platforms, like Google Drive, Slack, and Zoom, there is no need to migrate your team and assets.

You can try Krock for free for the first two weeks, or book a quick demo call and get familiar with all the features right away.

Use your resources to your advantage. Customize workflow according to the needs of your team. And incorporate the right tools that transform the burden of routine tasks into a quick and easy side-off.

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FAQs

1. What Elements are Vital to a Creative Agency Workflow?

A productive workflow has a few key elements. These will help carry you throughout your work and lead you to success:

  • Detailed planning
  • Steadfast organization
  • Efficient task allocation

2. What are the steps for animation production workflow?

1. Pre-production

  • Creative direction
  • Art direction
  • Storyboarding
  • Illustration/design

2. Production (animation)

3. Post-production 

  • Sound design
  • Music sourcing
  • Voiceover recording
  • Delivery

3. How to build a productive creative workflow?

  1. Thoroughly discuss the brief
  2. Identify the stages of the project
  3. Establish a project schedule & plan
  4. Use agile project management methodology
  5. Use creative workflow software for task management and online proofing
  6. Review work on each production stage to avoid last-minute do-overs
  7. Track progress

4. What is the best tool to manage creative workflow?

The best tool to manage the creative workflow combines features of project management and media review – all in one space. Check out this comparison article for the best creative workflow software.

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