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It’s a long way from an idea to an animated film. Particularly when you are creating your characters, environment etc. and then animating everything to come up with a nice narrative. Animation filmmaker Sonia Tiwari experienced that journey while making the short film ‘Bhavri’. She explains the process.

Storyboard and Animatic

Assuming that a solid story and basic character descriptions are in place, the first and foremost helpful thing in animation is a series of storyboards to visually put together the shots in progression. An animatic is putting storyboards on the editing timeline along with corresponding sound effects, voiceover and dialogue. It helps in getting an idea of timing, pacing, acting choices etc., which are very essential for animation.

Shot Analysis

Each shot must have a motivation. Before animation begins one must know the background story of characters, their body language, emotions, physical action, what needs to be conveyed in this shot and what is the time limit for the shot etc. If the shot needs to be for only 4 seconds, we need to cut down on the amount of physical action and make sure there is just enough animation to convey the emotions clearly.


3D Animatic

If one has a 3D animation pipeline, it’s important to begin with a 3D animatic or pre-viz reel, where we assemble all 3D assets such as models, rigged characters, stage setting, props, lights, textures etc. and block all the camera angles. This helps in animating to a camera, making one only animate stuff visible in the renderable camera, instead of animating everything there is in the scene. An important tip is to ‘reference’ all 3D assets in the scene, instead of importing them, so that it is easy to update modifications made to original assets.


Animation Thumbnails

Animation thumbnails can be inspired by the storyboard, but here is where the animator really breaks down the animation and plans out the use of animation principles like weight, anticipation, exaggeration, timing, pacing etc. Using video reference, acting out in front of a mirror, noting down the timing etc are all great resources to draw thumbnails from.


Animation Blocking

This is the first step in taking all the previous animation homework and putting it into the scene. In a 3D pipeline, many animators block the animation with a stepped tangent (used in Maya), block holds and gets the timing as accurate as possible. This is where all the ‘key-poses’ are blocked out and in most cases, all body parts are keyed together. Nothing is offset as of now, just to get a neat view of the overall action. Some animators find it easier to use spline tangents (used in Maya) right from the blocking stage. It all depends on individual convenience.


Animation First and Second Pass

This is where we layer in details in the blocking. For example, if a character is jumping and landing, both feet won’t land at the same time, they will now be offset. While in blocking we only blocked the key poses, now is the time to offset, add in-betweens, expressions etc. It’s all about getting the emotion right and balancing holds with motions.


Feedback Cycle

Ask your fellow animators or seniors for feedback, fix the shots, ask for feedback again and again till the fixing is finally done. One must also know the overall production deadline to know when to stop taking feedback and hit the render button. No shot is done 100% but it needs to be good enough for the production schedule and project requirement.


Final Animation

Accumulating all feedback and references, fixing and layering details in animation, bringing it as close to the director’s vision as possible, letting it go through post-production process and making it fit just right in the overall sequence, makes a shot final.

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round.

 

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E-commerce websites have become the driving force for businesses these days. With dynamic features like advanced filtering, animation, 360 degree product reviews and super product search, these have taken the web world by storm.

Such is the revolution that shopping is not just limited to women only rather is enjoyed by men through online stores with their extensive range of tech products. Now, there is something for everyone; yes, kids, parents and teenagers are in for some gain too. The main aim of these e-commerce sites is to engage with the web customers and cater to a wide set of target audience.

 

So, how can an ecommerce website emerge from good to best? Is it about looks or functionality? Do products matter or customer service? Or will the dash of extra features do the deed? Okay, that’s quite a thought. What’s sure here is that one thing won’t do; it is a game of parts! To get your conversion rates soaring high, it is important to be relevant and competitive in your elements. Of course there are no universal features or design elements that guarantee immense popularity, but there are general guidelines and also recommended options which shouldn’t be neglected at the time of creating an e-commerce website.

 

Here in this post you will find some very valuable tips for your layout that will surely make your online business flourish. But before we delve deeper let us look at some of the main goals that every e-commerce website plans to fulfill.

1. It’s All About Selling

There are many websites which are sheer wastage of time and effort. Why? The stores are designed just for the heck of it. There is no thought behind the creation. They are funky in looks but pretty useless when it comes to shopping. These websites are satisfied by just bringing the brand online or creating a physical store; for them, in the end, it is all about a big ‘buy’ button in a plain view. It is common for some businessmen, developers and designers to ignore such details, but in fact, these are the areas where they should pay a lot of attention.

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2. Highlight The Benefits

Displaying a list of product types or a grid can be the best thing for your online store. Highlighting the special deals and ‘what’s new’ categories can allure the web surfers to buy. In fact, there are many online surfers who aren’t even clear what they want and are in just for hanging out. As an online seller, you must poke the market and show the users what they are missing out on.

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3. Trust Is Must

People want to know what all is in store for them. That is the reason they are eager to know everything about the product they are willing to buy, the purchase procedure, payment methods, warranties and delivery service etc. i.e. all the details that will help them to finalize the decision and lock the transaction. Be particular that the relevant pages are linked well to the home page. Such a vision will prove helpful for the support team and will also lower the amount of pre-sale help requests.

 

Further, here are some features which will aid you in enhancing your web store usability and generating more profitability

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4. Keep It Secure

Online transactions have become quite essential for us now. Because of their popularity, e-commerce websites can be a potential target for the cybercriminals. It is important for the online sellers to hide customer information and maintain necessary steps to ensure privacy. It all depends upon a secure e-commerce platform. With their line of advanced security features, it is no surprise that Magento and WordPress along with WooCommerce have become the big leaders of online sellers.

 

Make sure you have SSL certificate as it looks after safe connectivity between a user and the website. SSL certificate establishes an encrypted connection between the web server and visitor’s web browser. It means all communications or online transactions will be safe. Generally, E-commerce store runs over multiple sub-domains. So, You can secure your unlimited first-level sub-domains with PositiveSSL Wildcard Certificate of Comodo Certificate Authority for some of the cheapest SSL solutions.

 

Even you can also enable two-factor authentication as it certifies security by using username/password and a system-made code sent through email or text. Remember to use a firewall and give the policy link in the footer as it specifies the website’s privacy policies and guarantees the non-sharing of the customer data with third parties.

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5. The Resolution Rule

Earlier e-commerce websites could survive by just posting a single image with some bullet points and a price tag. Shoppers evaluate the product by looking at it from various angles and as per the demands of different environments. The power to zoom gives them better feel of the product.

Technical points of the images should be kept in mind while uploading the same. Images that pose problems while loading or take lot of time to load will lead to drop-off rate of about 39%. Remember it is the images that sell not text. So, keep in mind to show multiple images per product. Let the photos be checked with high resolution and optimization for better page load.


6. Route To Reviews

Shoppers are deeply influenced by reviews. As a matter of fact, 92% of them pay heed to them. The star rating on a product is a major game changer these days. You might be under the impression that negative reviews will ruin your sale but actually, it is the opposite case here. Negative reviews can turn out to be positive. It is the human psyche which feels that products without negative reviews are not worth a shot and thus, think all the positive reviews are fake.

 

Based on the website’s functionality, e-commerce can utilize plugins from the most sought after review platforms like Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare. Futuristic e-commerce sites are making use of reviews as user-generated content to build social proof and increase fan following.

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7. Best Offers

It is seen that majority of the e-commerce sites are resorting to the special offers tactics as a part of their marketing practices through social, email, text etc. People are very quick to pass judgment as to whether they like a website or not. So, making using of this trait you should try to capture their interest in a matter of seconds as soon as they enter the site. A small delay can cause them jumping to some other store with a more impressive home page. The sure shot way to pull your audience is through amazing shopping deals.

Many forward-looking websites make maximum use of the main real estate in the header section to sell special offers. When shoppers know that they are at advantage with a special deal, it inspires them to go ahead and purchase more than they intend to as well as explore more in the product section of the site. It is seen that millions of people get very excited during sales and discounted periods and go on a shopping spree just because the prices are slashed heavily in sale.

If a website wants to make the most from its current promotions, it is advisable to create a spectacular webpage that displays the lists of offers at hand, which will not only enhance sales but will be very useful for SEO as well. Alluring promises and different prices persuade the visitors to spend without giving a practical thought.

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8. The Pleasure of Wish Lists

Wish Lists- The ultimate love of every user. How we love keeping one for fashion, one for books to read, one for holiday gift ideas and the list goes on. Yes, it is all about shopping, saving and sharing! E-commerce sites which are still far from having wish lists are hampering sales and leaving them on the virtual desktop table. Customers can appreciate nothing more than having their favourite items bookmarked and then use them later to buy in the future.

This is actually giving them larger than life! And, of course, executing a fabulous remarketing campaign dream. It is also a good way to share your brand with the potential buyers. When shoppers open up their wish lists with their family and friends, it generates popularity and creates free traffic with built-in social proof to a website.

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9. Social Proof

Brands and online sellers that establish an emotional connection with the buyers score on the parameters of trust and advocacy. The social link is, without a doubt, the best platform to connect with your user these days. Integrating social profiles and user-generated content with an e-commerce site have become the need of the hour as it creates a strong brand character for the online sellers. Shoppers are flooded with a constant ping of ‘buy now’ and ‘get this’.

The brands that interact with the customers on a more social level create more loyal customers for life. Social media gives the e-commerce brands the platform to show their genuineness and establish an emotional link with the products.

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10. The Payment Mode

In this era of Apple Pay and PayPal, quick and easy payment options are an absolute necessity for an e-commerce website. Take, for instance, Amazon, there is nothing more wonderful in this world than getting the option to shop in a single click. Shoppers with registered accounts on Amazon can actually buy by mere one click. Currently, there are many advanced payment methods online. The trick is to understand the target audience and incorporating the most robust solutions. If a website lacks in payment options, be particular in stating the reason for so.

Like an e-commerce site can restrain from offering Bitcoin as a payment option after it discovers that the value isn’t reliable. If buyers are techno freaks who are more inclined towards payment method, it is crucial to be clear as to why that mode isn’t an available option. Being transparent works in favor of the brand as it builds a trust and establishes a stronger relationship with the buyers. Payment options can be accessed at the footer or on the top right corner of sites.

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11. Easy Contact

As we know that in an e-commerce website most of the business happens online and there is nothing more fulfilling than finding a clear-cut and well-designed ‘contact us’ feature. This implies particularly for high-end merchandise or technical products. Don’t make it tough for the buyer to contact for any query or to enable support. Place contact page as one of the prime features of the website. Facilitate multiple ways to reach the customer support via phone, email or through an online form. Some exquisite stores provide online appointment setting by the means of their contact page. Make a note to put in customer service social links and Google maps for locations.

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12. Return Policy

Return policies are a significant attribute of any e-commerce website. Make sure that the return policy is clear and well framed or explained. This is another customer bonding feature for online selling. This will satisfy the buyer that in case they are finding faults in their purchase or need a different size, the brand is open to making changes. The latest survey by Invesp reveals that almost 30% of the products ordered online are returned back. Also, 92% are eager to buy again if the product return policy is not complex and very easy to follow. Even 67% of shoppers check the returns page before making a purchase.

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Now you may find some of these tips very obvious and general and might be thinking ‘that’s not a big deal’. But even if the marketers and web designers feel that basic stuff like ease of use, high-resolution photos and contact information are quintessential details, remember these very points are itself the best practices and trademarks of awesome design. If you know most of the tips given in this post already and haven’t used them practically; buck up! It is never too late! The best blend that will make your e-commerce website scalable and robust is by combining the tried-and-tested features along with the unique elements to deliver powerful shopping experiences.

 

Article contribution by Think 360 Studio.

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Subject, Concept Artist, Sahil Trivedi, shares his process of adding various layers to his work, and balancing the colour palette and light, to produce an effective and impactful design. He feels connecting to work in a steady and gradual process which helps optimise the final outcome.

Form Connect.

Sahil Trivedi trusts in approaching one’s subject and its various aspects in a clear, straight and gradual manner, so as to arrive at its intended fruition in a steady and assured way. Here, he explains his process behind creating artwork step-by-step that is not only clear in direction and balanced in colour but also aptly treated on the whole.

subject

Step 1

First and foremost, take a moment to consider what works best in the interest of your subject. This will help you connect and give direction to the piece. Read forms, and start out with basic line-art. With this, you shall be able to see the form and content clearly.

subject

Step 2

Select the area of rendering, and fill-in any mildly dark shade. I prefer this technique so that I only have to work on highlights; it also saves a lot of time. Then create a cut-out of the image, and place it in a layer behind the lines.

subject

Step 3

Determine the effect and direction of lighting you want your artwork to have. Here, I have kept the light source at the top-front. Conceive the whole piece in 3D form, with respect to the shades, highlight and bounce-light that will suit your structure, style and need.

subject

Step 4

Colour is the most important aspect. I focus on balancing the colour palette, keeping it vivid and fresh. For example, if I had green on top, it would balance out with blue; they should complement each other and not be in conflict. Be very specific about which colours you use, since they hold the beauty that will catch the viewers’ attention.

subject

Step 5

Render out different materials, and add source values/textures. Also, be very precise about bounce-light or reflective light or tones. It must seem very organic and pleasant to the eyes. Here, I have detailed a bit more adding ‘burn’ effects to the eye. It can be very specific or even loose.

subject

Step 6

Finally, the treatment is very important. Here, I have added some foliage layers to give the sculpture an organic feel. Plants always make a composition alive and fresh. I’ve also added colour dodge (formula red) in some areas to make them attractive. The overall ambient light helps to balance my colour palette and not saturate it.

Published in Issue 36

Every year brings a lot of hope and promises. With a New Year resolutions list (which might be lost by now) and hope of everything will change for good we all welcomed 2017. This issue explored, how these changes will affect our businesses and how we can be prepared for the growth predicted by the experts. The Wise Advice section includes pieces of advice on the web, mobile apps, user interface and user experience from well-known industry experts. Arun Pattnaik, a self-learned UX & UI expert also highlighted the importance of user experience in the process of building a strong brand. This issue gives you hint about tends to keep an eye on and how to be ready for it! So not just for the business owners but also for upcoming creative entrepreneurs this one is a must read!

 


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