How to write a statement of work for motion design projects

Every motion design project should begin with a clear and concise statement of work - a simple document that sets out in writing exactly what is going to be done, and what will be delivered along the way.

Setting everything out on paper helps give both parties a clear view of the whole project, and highlights, especially to the client, just what goes into the animation process. It’s also a kind of pre-flight checklist for the project too, helping to highlight any issues right at the start which are easier to fix before any work has been done.

If you want to write your own statement of work, the steps below will help give you an idea of what to include, alternatively we have a statement of work template for motion designers ready and waiting to go.

So, when it comes to the question of how to write a statement of work, where do we start? Well, let’s take a look:

Start with the project overview

You don’t need to go into too much detail here, just a brief and direct overview of the whole project like so:

[Your business name] will be creating an animated explainer video for [client name], it will be no more than 1 minute 30 seconds in length, include 2 unique character designs, and will be comprised solely of 2D animation.

This is clear, concise, and gives an instant view of what is going to be created. Try and keep things brief, perhaps give yourself the limit of writing the project overview in a tweet to prevent things becoming too long winded - you’re about to detail everything that’s going to be done so there’s no need to write an essay here.

Break the project down into stages and list the deliverables for each

The stages and deliverables will vary depending on the project, if you’re creating an animated explainer video for example, then your project stages and deliverables may look something like this:

Stage 1: Script

A written overview of how the animation will be structured
Deliverable: PDF of the proposed script

Stage 2: Storyboards / Styleframes

A rough sketch of frames that show a proposed approach for the animation.
Deliverable: Boords link / Animatic / PDF

Stage 3: Music / Composing

Sourcing royalty free music tracks that will fit the style and tone of the script and storyboards.
Deliverable: 3x Royalty free sample music tracks to choose from (MP3/WAV)

Stage 4: Voiceover

The agreed upon voiceover artist will record the script
Deliverable: 1x WAV file of the voiceover.

Stage 5: Animation

The animation will be created based on the script and styleframes produced in stage 1 and 2, the chosen music and voiceover track will be incorporated into the piece.
Deliverable: 1x .mp4 file - resolution: 1920x1080 24fps

Breaking the project down into stages is a key aspect of a good statement of work because it gives an order and structure to the whole process. Setting out each stage also gives you the opportunity to introduce another vital process: client sign-off.

Now that we have the project stages, we can now explain a little more about the approval process, something along the lines of:

Each stage listed above will be completed in order, before progressing from one stage to the next there will be a review process to discuss the deliverable. In this review, any questions can be raised about the design decisions taken. Any changes that arise from this review stage will be separated into minor and major categories, any major changes that arise may affect the project timeline and result in additional costs.

Here we’ve avoided the word feedback and framed the review process more as a discussion where you, as the designer, can explain your working and ideas. It’s important to note that this isn’t designed to prevent changes to a project, it’s more a way to clarify how changes should be dealt with and the impact they may have on the project.

Alongside this, it’s also a good opportunity to make clear that any changes to a stage that are received after it’s been approved will likely result in delays and increased costs:

Before progressing from one stage to the next, eg: from the script to the storyboards, the previous stage needs to be approved in writing. Any changes to a stage after it has been approved will result in delays to the project timeline and additional costs.

Finally, we’ll add a sign-off section with a confirmation statement that serves two purposes: a. That the work outlined satisfies the project objectives and b. That any changes to the work outlined in the document will result in additional costs and an extension of the project timeline:

I am happy that this statement of work satisfies all objectives for this project, I also understand that any changes to the work outlined in this document may result in delays to the project and an increase in budget. Signed…………………….

Again, this isn’t about preventing changes to the project but rather, dealing with changes in the right way, and explaining the impact they have.

Optional Extras

You can choose to include the agreed upon budget somewhere within the statement of work, you could even refer to the budget section when talking about changes: “these will increase the budget specified in section c” for example.

Specific delivery dates - if the client requires a strict timeline then you can add in the key dates next to each stage. If you require something from the client in order to complete a stage then make sure this is highlighted.

Translations? Are translations needed for the project? Sorting this at the start can save a lot of headaches later. It also allows for the translations to be done by an external party alongside the other stages which again helps save time.

Project files - can the client expect the project files at the end of it? Has this been discussed? A checkbox mentioning if they’re included can help initiate this conversation right at the start of the project.

There we have it, you’ve successfully outlined the work that you’re about to do and also explained a bit more about the motion design process. Both parties now have a document to return to should there be any discussion about the work that’s been done (or not done).

It’s important to note that a statement of work is not designed to be a legal contract, it’s more to ensure everyone is on the same page with regards to the objectives and deliverables of the project.

So there we are, that’s how to write a statement of work! If you want all this information in a nice handy template form then be sure to check out our business resources for motion designers where you’ll find our ready made statement of work template for you to customise.

Read more blog posts about: