So you have a brilliant idea for a new intellectual property (IP) and want to produce and pitch a successful animation series. You’ve done your research, picked your animation style, and developed your concept.
And now, it’s time to put together an effective, attractive, comprehensive show bible that (no pressure) has to stand out from the hundreds of others investors and executives receive everyday!
So how can you convince them that your IP is worth their time and money? How do you avoid common pitfalls and mistakes that could ruin your chances of success?
In this edit, we’ll guide you through the process of building an effective show bible and presenting it to investors who share your vision. So whether you want to show your project in the best light or get familiar with the entertainment industry protocols and learn the best bible writing practices, this definitive guide is all you’ll need.
Pitch Deck vs. IP Bible Pitch vs. Treatment
Before we lose ourselves down the twisty road of IP bible pitch elements, it’s essential to know the differences between a pitch deck, an IP bible, and a treatment.
For starters, an animation series bible has everything about your show – past, present, and future. It tells executives everything they want to know about your show’s chances of growth and success. Think of it as an instruction manual that suggests whether they can be confident in your show’s screening and viewers engagement or not.
And that’s besides the fact that putting together a series bible or pitch deck can really help writers take an objective look at their story and get fresh ideas about them.
But besides being complete, it has to be short so it’ll actually be read.
ScriptHop’s research on the industry’s best practices tells us that a show bible should preferably be about 20 to 30 pages long (the shorter, the better).
Naturally, some show bibles have to be lengthier and more detailed than others, especially if they’ve got a lot of backstory and world-building involved. For example, the series bible for Battlestar Galactica, the 2004 reboot of the beloved 1970s series following humanity’s journey to Earth, is 49 pages long!
And don’t mistake your show bible with the treatment document. A treatment is basically a written summary of your pilot script. Think of it as a handy tool for busy executives who want to refresh their memory or get a quick feel for the story.
But what is a pitch deck?
A pitch-deck is like a condensed version of a bible, treatment, and lookbook all rolled into one (but shorter). According to Evan Baehr, pitch decks are valuable tools that can:
- Make the script and its central conceit easier to understand
- Get people to care about the story, and
- Prompt them to take action
Plus, a pitch deck often has many more visual elements than a bible does (although you can personalize your bible style and add images in a formatted style too).
To understand these concepts better, have a look at New Girl’s pitch document and Batman animation’s writers’ bible to see the differences.
Intellectual Property Bible: What Is It & Why’s It So Important?
Now you know that a pitch bible is an essential document that outlines everything about your animation movie or series, including its:
- World details
- Characters profiles
- Pilot episode
- Episode descriptions
- Art style
- Financial projections
- Series overview
It’s easy to see why your animated series’ bible is the most important document in your portfolio.
First of all, it gives executives and producers a clear image of the project’s most viewer-engaging elements. Essentially, it’s the document that tells them why they should invest in your animation.
If you’ve read any of our animation pipeline blog series (pre-production, production, and post-production), then you’ll know that an enormous amount of effort goes into the smallest details of animation production. And, naturally, an enormous amount of money with it.
Writers, storyboarders, animators, show runners, directors, voice actors, musicians, producers, marketing execs, legal teams, and other people all work together and in isolation to make any animated show a success. All of these add up to a hefty price tag that can go up to millions of dollars.
So yes, you’ll have to seriously impress those investors with your IP bible and pitch. They won’t give you their money easily!
IP Bible Elements
It’s now time to craft an IP bible that gives readers the confidence to want to invest in your project. For that to happen, the document must be concise, engaging, and professional, following the entertainment industry standards.
But before we begin listing and explaining everything that makes an IP bible, note that there is no one-size-fits-all template for your 2D or 3D animation. Different genres, formats, and platforms may require different elements and headings. Professional writers often customize their IP bibles according to their own needs and preferences.
And there’s no rule that says you can’t do the same (as long as you cover the essential information that investors look for).
So feel free to alter the document’s elements and form to suit your project and your style.
Imagine waiting at the (wait for it) elevator when you suddenly meet the head of the pitch development department of your favorite animation production studio at the elevator! How would you explain your animation series’ main concept if you had only one chance to impress them and eventually sell your idea to them?
Now try to condense that pitch down to one neat and shiny sentence. There, you have your logline.
A logline is a concise description of the premise or core idea behind your animation series or movie. In other words, your bible logline is the introduction your series pilot, screenplay, or pitch uses to make a grand entrance.
And yes, it can be both incredibly simple or extremely, gut-wrenchingly hard to craft. As Crystal Holt, the vice president at 20th Television puts it, “The logline is the first thing I can say no to”.
As you might guess, your logline can completely make or break your project. Do it well and you’ll have an elevator pitch worthy of consideration; fumble it and you won’t get another chance at impressing your dream team.
Here are a few things to have in mind when you’re trying to nail the logline down:
- Don’t mention any genres. A successful logline will give you some sense of the story’s genre without directly stating it.
- Avoid names and details that are not essential to the main idea of your animation series.
- Avoid clichés and generic phrases that sound like many other animation series.
Your document’s short synopsis is a summary of your animation series’ plot. In simple terms, your short synopsis shows that you’ve got the plot and script nailed down beyond just the logline.
But be careful not to reveal too much in this section. After all, it’s called the short synopsis for a reason!
Your document’s short synopsis must leave something to the imagination and intrigue directors and decision makers to want to know more! And then, as if waiting for a cue, comes the full synopsis with every detail they’re curious about.
Remember the short and sweet summary we just guided you through in the section above? It probably won’t come as a surprise that there’s nothing remotely short or summarized in the full synopsis section.
Just like an x-ray, a full synopsis can reveal the inner workings and structure of your story. It maps everything from conflicts, actions and character arcs to the story’s ending.
But why won’t potential investors just read the plot and script to see what the story is about, you ask?
Well, many investors are not looking for scripts. In fact, there are people hired to read your scripts and summarize your storylines for the actual decision makers to see. And these people don’t spend more than a mere fraction of their time to go through your script.
They most definitely don’t care for your story the way you, the creator, do. And they most definitely will NOT write as good and complete of a summary as you will. That’s why it’s essential to take your time with the three first elements of your IP bible pitch to make sure you’ve got what it takes to hook directors and decision-makers in for the real thing.
Your script’s theme is all about the deeper message that’s hidden within the story, one that can reflect the qualities of human life, society, emotions, changes, or the world in general. Think of themes as your piece’s melody or rhythm, one (or more than one) that can be complicated, simple, or both.
For example, we could say that The Hunchback of Notre Dame had themes of love, lust, judgment (what makes a man different from a beast?), death, and jealousy.
The setting of your animation series is crucial to the story as it provides the backdrop and the context for the events that unfold. Your project’s “world” influences the characters’ personalities, motivations, and challenges, as well as the themes and messages that you want to convey.
The setting also creates opportunities for exploration, discovery, and adventure since it gives your characters new encounters in new places, with new people, and new problems.
In this section, you can fit in some information about your world including:
- Map and territory
- People and culture
- Technology (is there magic? Or flying cars?)
- Power structure and social hierarchy
Introduce your characters and highlight the relationships between them and how they dynamically provoke actions and reactions in each other by what they do. This is probably one of the first things anyone will want to look for in your pitch.
As a matter of fact, there are many agents who actively look for character descriptions for ALL your characters.
They’ll want information like:
- How they look like (physical and in terms of style)
- Their backstory
- Their personality
- Their beliefs and worldview
- What’s noticeable about them and makes them unique
- Their major actions
- Their inner conflicts
This part of the document is also the perfect place to describe conflicts between characters along with the captivating narrative currents that are born from their interactions.
Don’t underestimate your characters’ power. Remember that crafting intriguing and memorable characters can literally transform your animation show, and investors and production studios are well aware of this.
Episode Descriptions + Pilot Episode
You have already defined your show’s idea, characters, and world. Now let’s get into the episodes.
First, write a summary of your pilot episode. The pilot summary should present your main characters and the main problem of your show, preparing the ground for the rest of the series. A pilot is very important because it also shows executives how the audience will like your show.
The pilot is the first episode, and the bible is about the rest of the show. So after you’re done with your pilot episode, give a list of episode ideas that reveal the kinds of stories your show will tell. Your descriptions will help readers understand the tone and format of your animation series.
Artistic Style and Visual References
In this part, you can convey how you imagine the feel and look of your animation series. Explain what’s essential to your vision, especially if it’s not clear. For example, someone might assume your show will look great with soft brushes and anime style, but you might want it to look serious and shot in black-and-blue instead.
Most animation series bible documents have some kind of concept art too. Which is more than fine as long as your visual references and concept arts look neat and professional.
The hook is your story’s existential statement. To paraphrase, your hook is a brief statement of why your project matters, where you highlight the most original or captivating aspect of your narrative — the main reason it should be made.
Similar to the logline, the hook should be short and sweet. But what makes the hook different from your logline is the fact that you no longer need to state just facts. The hook is the best place to fit your own personal ideas of the animated series or show into the pitch document.
In essence, your hook answers the question “why should this animation series exist in the current market?”
Perhaps your animation explores a concept that’s never been animated before. Or perhaps it brings an old yet familiar concept to the center stage in a new light – one that hasn’t been explored before.
But even if your script has none of the above (or anything seemingly unique about it), you’ll have to describe it in a way that sounds so: unique.
Even after reading your logline, hook, synopsis, or even the script itself, the reader might not understand what you’re trying to say or achieve with your story. The case is where you convince the reader why your animation series deserves to be made and watched.
We might even say that the case is the perfect section to make A CASE for your project.
You can mention how your project relates to the current trends, issues, or needs of the audience. It’s also a good idea to bring in some examples of successful or influential animation series that have a similar or contrasting style, theme, or story to yours.
Your animation series is not only a creative project, but also a business opportunity.
Investors, producers, and generally anyone who’s going to go through your show bible care about the financial aspects as much as the story aspects.
Here you can show them how your animation series can attract and satisfy a large and loyal audience. You can also point out any subplots or themes that tap into a popular or emerging trend, or any tie-in products that can boost your revenue and exposure.
Also, don’t forget to mention any significant money that you or others have already put into your project. Significant is the key word here, because you won’t impress anyone if you only contribute 5k to a project that can make millions.
The series overview is where you outline the main arc and the key events of your first season. It is where you show how your characters and your story world will develop and change over multiple episodes.
This section is the best place to fit information like:
- The first season’s ending.
- Major turning points and cliffhangers of your first season.
The series overview demonstrates the potential and the longevity of your animation series. You’ll also increase your chances of getting a series pickup from managers and executives who are looking for engaging animation projects.
Your TV show bible pitch should include all the important elements of the show – story, world, characters, themes, arcs, tone, style – to show the reader your vision of the series. A strong animation show bible can help you get attention, interest, and support from the people who matter in the animation industry.
If you are looking for a professional and creative animation studio to help you with your animation series pitch, you can count on Picotion.
Picotion is an international studio with a brilliant production pipeline, offering animation, motion capture, cinematics, and character design services. Contact us for high-quality, engaging, and captivating animated content that will impress your audience and potential partners.
IP Bible Pitching FAQ
How long should a standard animation IP bible pitch be?
Different animation bible pitch documents differ in page numbers, and there’s no set rule that tells creatives how long their documents should be. But according to SERIES BIBLE & PITCH DECK STANDARDS AND PRACTICES, 20-30 pages is the optimal length. Managers, investors, directors, and execs don’t enjoy flipping through lengthy documents so even if your script is long, try to be as concise as possible.
What’s the difference between a pitch deck and an IP bible?
An animation series bible has everything about your show – past, present, and future. It tells executives everything they want to know about your show’s chances of growth and success. A pitch deck, on the other hand, is like a condensed version of a bible, treatment, and lookbook all rolled into one (but shorter).
How do I format my animation series IP bible?
There is no one standard format for an IP bible, but there are essential elements that every director and investor will want to see in your bible, including a logline, short synopsis, full synopsis, hook, case, series overview, and financial projections.