Effective Animation and Visual Effects do not happen out of the blue, they are the result of accurate character and environment development, where art and technical directors make decisions before production phase.
- Narrative Script, tells the story before drawing or modeling.
- Color Script, making decisions on value and color before lighting or texturing.
- Storyboard, composition, animation and cameras in a 2D visualization process.
- Animatic, animating storyboard panels in 2D and 3D space to provide templates for animators and compositors.
- Character sheets, including views of the characters from multiple angles, recognizable silhouettes, orthographic views for the modelers, facial expressions for modelers and animators, clothes and gear sheets for prop modelers and visual effects artists, etc.
- Environment Sheets, including maps where characters can move in game levels defining what actions are possible and where they may take place.
- Concept art, sometimes using paintovers on rough 3D models, showing general looks and fine details of the future production, providing a thorough template for models, textures, light sets and post-production.
You make every decision during pre-production phase in an animation project, before production, in order to keep it manageable. It is easier (and more efficient) to fix problems in 2D before they happen in 3D.