Have you ever wondered how the professional animation production pipeline would look like? You will get what you look for in this post. We get details of the production pipeline of Dreamwork animation studio from CGMeetup channel and share with you here. Are you excited to go through all the phases?

The animation production pipeline start once the studio have a script.

Dreamworks Animation Studio production Pipeline – Stage 1: Storyboard

The first step in the production pipeline is to do a storyboard. The job of story artist is to take the script, and to draw out the comic book version of the movie.

The artists have to draw thousands of drawings to come up with a sequence before pitching it back to the director, to the story team and producers.

The story panels are turned over to the editorial department.

Editors kept the sketches together in a story reel, so the directors, producers and executives can see a blueprint of the movie. At the very beginning is quite critical because you’re still trying to figure out what the movies about.

Because the actors have not recorded yet, so the voiceover was recorded along with a little music sound effects added. The purpose is to tell the story and keep everyone on the same page. At this stage, the storyboard becomes the foundation.

Dreamworks Animation Studio production Pipeline – Stage 2: Visualize

The art department is made of a bunch of artists, and they’re called visual development artists.

The reason is because they develop things visually. The film has to have a look.


So the artists will sit down at their computer, or at their pencil and paper, or whatever medium they work in, and they will create what the film looks like.

Everything from the characters, to the props, to the environment – every single thing that can be seen in the film is designed by an artist. And it gets approved by the art director production designer.

Dreamworks Animation Studio production Pipeline – Stage 3: Model

Modeling is basically about building all the characters, the environments, the props. Everything in a film has to be built. It has to be created. After receiving two-dimensional artwork from the art department, the modeler would have to bring it into the third dimension to give it volume.


Another important yet tough job a modeler has to do is to sculpt the characters. Drawings from the character designers would end up with an armature or a wireframe of the character with the support of the modeler. They have to basically sculpt the character, and make it look good from every possible angle.

Dreamworks Animation Studio production Pipeline – Stage 4: Rig

Modeler would then transfer the digital sculptures to riggers, who would design how the character moves. Riggers are essentially puppet makers. They place all of the joints muscle and fat underneath the skin.


And they make all of the skin, deforms every little wrinkle on facial expression. That’s a control made by riggers so that the animators can take the digital puppet and act with it.

Dreamworks Animation Studio production Pipeline – Stage 5: Surface

Surfacing artists would do the colors and textures part to ensure things such as a shiny surfaces like glass, or bumping surface like dirt, or slick surface like a handsome penguin.

Surfacing artists determine the surface quality of particular assets or characters.


Basically the color the texture or how the light interacts with the surface itself. So take metal for example, it can have paint on top of it. It can have dirt. It can have rust. It can have scratches. Various things.


Read more >> 10 essential stages of animation production Pipeline – Dreamworks Animation Studio – Part 2 via this link 

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network: https://www.awn.com/
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/tech
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist: https://beforesandafters.com/