First of all, I can eliminate for now any scenes with dialog except for those few in which final voices have been recorded. This is of course because the timing depends not only upon the timing that the actors will determine, but also upon any useful movement and expression that their characterizations may suggest.
The answer to the main question was defined for me by Nancy Beiman in her book Animated Performance (AVA Publishing SA, 2010). "Animators have the most time and energy at the beginning of a production," she writes. "If the most important and complicated scenes are done first, they will be done (and done well) when the animation is completed."
Beiman goes on to recommend ranking all scenes as A, B or C. "An 'A' scene is one that is vital to the storyline and usually contains the most complicated animation.
"A 'B' scene is still important to the storyline but may be a simple one-character shot rather than a two-shot with dialog. Since it will take less time to animate than an 'A', it will take second priority in production.
"A 'C' scene has lowest priority and may be eliminated if the limitations of time and budget intervene in the production, as they often do. 'C' scenes may still be necessary for the story but they can easily be modified or shortened if required."
In all my reading about studio production, I cannot remember ever before hearing about this very sensible system of prioritization.
* * *
For my first scene to animate, I have chosen one of the Old Man doing a little private victory dance. It isn't an actual dance, but his smile and his body language indicate that he has just scored a win and is feeling good about himself.
Here are the four panels that illustrate the scene in the storyboard.
|Another character has tossed the Old Man's own business card into the air, and he has just caught it.|
|A man of thrift, he returns the card to his jacket pocket.|
|Now he turns away in a jaunty style that reveals his happy mood...|
|...and walks off screen as the scene fades to black.|
Next: This scene in animation...