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Friday Fun: From Idea to Animated Film

It’s Friday, and I thought we’d have fun talking about something a little different. At Wordfence, one of my priorities is fostering a strong creative team and culture, and investing in creators. Emily Dalmas joined us as a full-time producer almost a year ago via her job as Associate Producer for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at NBC. I’ve had the privilege of working with Emily on several projects including the one she describes below.

Another member of our creative team is Sean Korbitz, who is a full-time Director of Photography at Wordfence and comes from an award-winning documentary background. Sean Filmed and Directed Open (2019) which is a documentary short about the WordPress community that we released in 2019, and Sean is currently working on several exciting projects in collaboration with Emily.

The animation that Emily unpacks below appears on our home page and tells the story of Jane, a blogger, who builds a business in partnership with Wordfence. It was created by Riley Donahue who works for “Saturday Night Live”, “Late Night with Seth Meyers”, and was most recently an animator on the music video for the 30th anniversary of “Hellraiser” by Ozzy Osbourne. We also worked with Cody Troyer who is one of the best film sound engineers in Denver right now – and Cody did all of the sound effects and music on this animation.

I believe in the value of a broad intersection between the creative arts and engineering. I’m a software engineer by trade, but I’ve come to appreciate the power of design, story, aesthetics, and art as a whole. At Wordfence we continue to invest in artists, and in the creative arts, and we find opportunities to empower and amplify great engineering and great customer service, by combining them with the arts and with artistic voices. If you are an artist and are interested in collaborating with us, you are most welcome to email Emily at emily@wordfence.com, and we will look for opportunities to work with you.

I hope you enjoy the rest of this post, as Emily describes what went into bringing Jane, her dog Rosie, and our hackers to life. If you are in the cybersecurity field, we’ve included a very subtle easter egg, just for you. 

~Mark Maunder – Wordfence Founder & CEO

Hi, I’m Emily Dalmas, and I’m a Producer at Wordfence. My role is creating engaging and informative content about Wordfence for all of our customers around the world!

We recently put together an animation for the launch of our two new products, Wordfence Care and Wordfence Response. You can find the animation at the top of our home page, and you can watch the animation here:

I wanted to let you in on how we made the animation and some of the BTS (behind the scenes) of how our animator worked to put this video together. As some of you may know, animation is an incredibly time-intensive endeavor. Considering how long animation can take, this video actually had a short turnaround of 4 months!

We were lucky enough to have Riley Donahue on board as our animator. Riley works for “Saturday Night Live”, “Late Night with Seth Meyers”, and was most recently an animator on the music video for the 30th anniversary of “Hellraiser” by Ozzy Osbourne!

In creating a product video, it was important for us to tell a story. We wanted to showcase an entrepreneur growing their business with Wordfence. Riley started by sending us a character style guide (below) so we could establish who our main character should be.

From there, we established our main character as a a young woman who went from starting a WordPress website to blog about flowers, to actually building a revenue-generating business with an e-commerce site.

Riley put together Character Styles for our character, Jane:

As you can see, we had quite a few options to play around with.

The second most important character was our hacker, or monster. We wanted to see the contrast between our two characters next to each other which is why Riley assembled his Monster Character Designs this way:

Here were our three final main characters:

 

Once we had our characters, Riley put together a Storyboard, which is like a comic-book version of our animation so that we can see his vision for what we’re going to see at different frames. Here are a few examples of what our storyboard looked like:

Once we approved our storyboard, Riley put together an Animatic. An Animatic is essentially an animated storyboard. This allowed us to see some of our characters moving around, and to determine whether or not we wanted to make any changes to the way our world was looking/moving. Here’s what some of our Animatic looked like:

Once we approved our Animatic, Riley was off to start animating. This is the part of production that takes the longest because Riley needed to animate each and every frame.

Riley was really creating the whole world that Jane & Rosie lived in with all of the detail you see in the video. He even derived some inspiration from real life! As a little Easter egg, you can actually see him driving with his dog.

Once we got our first pass, we were able to look at a few things we were seeing for the first time: color, some 3D movements, and sound elements.

Shots like the one of the Hacker getting cuffed by Wordfence and getting destroyed really evolved when Riley was animating. He wanted to achieve this result:

Here’s an example of what the animatic looked like vs the final product of that shot:

Our last shot, undeniably one of our favorites, was one of Riley’s toughest shots to animate. He had the idea to incorporate a burst of color and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Here’s a look at the final image:

And here’s an example of what the animatic looked like vs the final product of the shot:

Once we had our final version of the animation, we handed it over to our Sound Designer, Cody Troyer, to add a sound mix which is a track of all necessary sound elements like sound effects and music.

We sent that sound mix back to Riley to add it to his final animation and we exported our final product.

And that’s how we made our animation! We hope you enjoyed hearing about how we put all of this together.

We’d especially like to thank Riley Donahue for his incredible work animating this video and to Cody Troyer for his sound mix. If you’re interested in seeing more of Riley’s work, visit his website at: https://www.radrileydesign.com/

Thanks for reading!

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