I am a moving image designer in London. I recently created several animations for a client who specified that they would be used for presentation purposes on large screens. They have now just decided that they also want to use them on the web, displayed at only 400 pixels wide! Obviously, this creates some issues with the type and some of the illustrations that were originally intended to be seen on a large format.
To ensure that this doesn't happen again, I am currently devising a checklist for clients, which I will give to them at the beginning of any project which includes film, animation, etc.
I am just wondering - if you had a checklist like this, what would you include?
Looking forward to hearing your answers!
Hi Sarah -
I am doing for several clients just what you are talking about. To avoid some of the pitfalls of creating for a smaller format, and then having the client request a larger format (say, from the web to a wall of monitors) we originate all of our HD projects at 1080P. This gives us an uncompressed master that we can then down-rez to generally whatever we need (640 x 360, flash and H.264 for the web and iTouch hand held, for example). The beauty of this system is that, once the master is created (in Camtasia, AE, and edited in PPro), we output the master once, then encode what's needed in Adobe Media Encoder.
I have saved presets in AE Media Encoder that match the various clients' needs. That said, you need to make sure at the outset of a project that the client knows what is entailed in the output of ancillary formats (web, DVD, iTouch, etc.). I generally figure about an hour's time for each additional output (sometimes a bit more), and build that into the project. Since I don't want to keep all the various pixel formats in my head, I use my HP IPAQ to hold an Excel worksheet with all of the various standard (and non-standard) formats that I use, or might need to use. I can pop open the file, then, referencing my spreadsheet, I can look at the possible formats I can create without changing the aspect ratio.
As far as going from HD to SD formats, this creates another can of worms, and I usually suggest letterboxing to go from HD to SD. The potential problem there is with any graphics, action, or CGs that fall outside of the SD title safe area. This is why I suggest letterboxing - the graphics and other key elements are preserved. If you have to crop HD to SD, you've got problems. You see this all the time on TV, where the lower third or bug is cropped out of and HD to SD conversion. There's also the fact that there is no TV safe on a web video, so the space is not alsways optimized. Luckily, as of CS4, After Effects contains a compound title and action safe grid that has BOTH HD and SD, so you can figure out in advance where there might be problems. Many TV stations keep all their graphics inside the SD safe area so cropping is not a problem - it just looks clunky.
As far as the whole graphics issue in general goes, always try and find out from your client if there is any repurposing planned (if only to force them to think about it). A full screen of bulleted text that reads fine in HD, may just about disappear when it becomes 640 x 360. This will call for a redesign of the page in which the bullets may have to be separated out as individual full-screen graphics, and you might have to make sure the voice over speaks the bulleted text just in case it's too small for some to read. Lots to think about, but if you make it clear up front to your client that it just might cost the price of a full re-edit to repurpose the production, they WILL think about it! I hope this helps.
Creative Director / Multimedia Specialist
B&S Exhibits and Multimedia