Training AnimationsWorking with the SME

ELearning for Manufacturers: How to Work with an industrial 3D animator

Save time and money by streamlining the animation process.

In manufacturing environments, there are some learning objectives that can best be achieved through animation. Animations are time-consuming and expensive to produce, so be sure that animation is the best method to convey the message.

Animations serve a variety of useful purposes, such as:

  • Showing processes that can’t be seen or videotaped – how a lawn mower cuts and disperses grass or how a heating systems distributes heat throughout a building
  • Showing interconnectivity
  • Demonstrating human motor skills
  • Demonstrating abstract concepts that can’t be depicted through video or photography
  • Detailing the assembly of an engine by having it disassemble or reveal “under the hood” parts and processes

There are several types of animations such as 2D, animated line drawings, animated .gif’s and 3D. Since most manufacturing facilities are developing training for physical items, the focus of this article is on 3D animation. Why? Because manufacturers are often concerned with 360 views of products or processes and this is best achieved by 3D which is based on actual object models that can be rotated in space.

Once you determine that an animation is the best communication method, you will need to develop or provide the following for your animator:

CAD files
The key parts or materials that appear in your animation will need to be ‘modeled’ or built. Rather than building from scratch, provide your animator with CAD files, if possible. This will save a significant amount of time.

Good reference material
You need to show what the key components in the animation are made of and how they work. The more detail you can provide on what the piece of equipment looks like and how it works, the better. Video is a great way, but you can also use still photos, illustrations or simple hand drawings. 

You will need to storyboard the animation. They don’t have to be elaborate designs, but they do need to have a lot of descriptive detail so the animator will know what to animate.  Have a technical expert or subject matter expert review your storyboard to make sure it is accurate and on-point with the learning objective.

It’s common to have narration describe the animation. That way your viewer has multiple senses involved in the learning.  Once the script has been reviewed and approved, record the narration and provide the final edited narration to the animator so he can time the animation sequences to the narration.

What is the timing and speed needed for each element of the animation? Some things can simply be timed to audio, but if there isn’t audio, let your animator know how the timing should work.

Keep it simple.  Concentrate only on what is necessary. Don’t animate the assembly line or the pistons firing if that’s not crucial to the learning. Keep in mind that non-essential items are taking time and money and will also distract the learner.

Animation can be a very effective instructional tool for e-learning in the manufacturing environment.  To keep costs under control, focus the animation only on what is necessary and provide the right materials to your animator.

Ron Trilling
Author of Learning Lines | Founder and Partner, at Media Dynamics
Ron is a great source of information when it comes to eLearning. He has a background in instructional design and has worked with many companies to help develop their eLearning content and courses.
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