Course overview

“Exploration of the processes and techniques of pre-production in short animation“

This is the first in a sequence of two courses in Advanced Character Animation. The main focus of this course will be on storytelling and virtualization for your short animation.

The course content is divided in to three parts:

Part One: Story Development

Students will be guided into generating initial ideas for a short animation, developing a character or characters, themes, metaphors, plot points, and a short script. Some films will be presented during the class times. Students will study and analyze the characters, plots, themes, conflicts, and dialogues in each of the presented films. In developing their story, students will need to develop the characters of the protagonist and antagonist.

Part Two: Storyboarding Visualization ( Include char

This section comprises of the steps needed to accomplish your storyboard. First, students will redefine and visualize their characters, scenes, and such. Second, students will move into camera shot designs for storyboarding, and such. Both Hollywood and independent films will be used for studying the camera shots. Third, students will create the rough design colors of each scene to set the mood of the story.

Part Three: Final Animatic

Students are required to create their final animatics for their animations. This is a pre-requisite for Advanced Character Animation II.

Techniques that students will focus on when creating their final animatics include:

Developing visual styles through the mood of each sequence, colors, realism or styling to match themes, motion, timing, length, rough shots, camera shots, colors, screen layouts, and composition.

Developing digital production styles involves techniques such as scanning, drawing, photography and video combination.

Fine tuning character appearances, mood, lighting and set design.

Developing sound designs, including ambience and effects, according to the script and matching them to the camera shots.

Students will use these techniques to complete their final animatic.

Required materials for this course
- Drawing paper
- Drawing tools
- Money for printing
- Storage such as USB thumb/flash drive (at least 512MB), USB external hard/USB+Firewire drive of any size, CD/DVD R/RW.
- Update your web portfolio

Recommended Reading
- Sheridan, Sherri. Developing Digital Short Films, New Riders Publishing, 2004
- Online document under Maya help menu (highly recommended)
- Lammers, Jim. Maya 6.5 Fundamentals, New Riders Publishing, 2004.
- Demers, Owen. Digital Texturing and Painting. New Riders Publishing, 2002.
- Birn, Jeremy. Digital Lighting and Rendering. New Riders Publishing, 2002.
- Maraffi, Chris. Maya Character Creation. New Riders Publishing, 2004
- Osipa, Jason. Stop Staring; Facail Modeling and Animation Done Right. Sybex Publishing, 2003
- Williams, Richard and Sutton, Imogen. The Animator Survival Kit. Faber and Faber
Publishing, 2001
- Alias wavefront. Learning Maya 6 series. Alias/wavefront. 2003

Note* Due to the natural complexity of the course content, you will need to work outside of class time to complete your products. You must be a self-motivated, but please have fun with your project.

Term assignments and final project

The structures of the exercises are designed for students to understand the pipe-line of pre-production regarding a character animation. The class focus on story telling. Students will follow the in-class instructions as presented by the instructor. Student also need to work on given assignment for story telling. If the assignments are not completed in the class within the time allowed, you don't need to resubmitted. This is because students will be working on an extended exercises outside the class.

Story Development (writing) Assignments (20 points)

  1. Writing some initial ideas for a short animation (4 points)
  2. Writing a character description (4 points)
  3. Writing the themes, and metaphors for your story (4 points)
  4. Writing plot points (4 points)
  5. Writing a short final script. (4 points)

Storyboarding Visualization Assignments (30 points)

  1. Blue print and full colors rendering of your character (Concept Art) (10 points)
  2. Full illustration of Camera shots and scenes design (Concept Art) (10 points)
  3. Final Storyboarding (10 points)

Final Animatic Assignments (50 points)

  1. Scratch Sound (20 points)
  2. Story Reel (20 points)
  3. The mood of sequences (Final Animatic 10)

Approximate Grade Emphasis ( see above)

Grades are based on the quality and quantity of your work. I will also consider your participation, ambition, commitment and development of your work from one project to the next. The following will be considered on grading:

Craft - Technical ability and craftsmanship
Concept - Visual thought process. The ability to interpret course concepts inventively, the ability to search for and discover methods and ideas with insight, and the ability to organize clear visual relationships.
Ambition - The ability to study effectively during class hours, the ability to accomplish work on a weekly basis, and the ability to apply constructive discussion during the class.
Productivity - The amount of work completed and how complete the works are.
Development - How much of your work has been developed and improved since the beginning of the semester.

A = Outstanding, excellent work 100 - 90 points
B = Above average work 89 - 80 points
C = Average work 79 - 70 points
D = Below average work 69 - 60 points
F = Failing work 59 - 0 points


3d art is time extensive and the technology associated with it is always changing. Learning the fundamentals is a must. Techniques, concepts and ideas discussed in this class are essential for a 3d Artist. Because of these, attendance is essential.

1 absences = excused
2 absences = grade lowered 1 letter grade
3 absences = grade lowered 2 letter grades
4 absences = grade lowered 3 letter grades
5 absences = fail course. Dropping course recommended

Being late to class three times will be counted as one unexcused absence. Likewise, leaving class early will be counted as an absence unless approved by instructor.

Student Needs
Any student who wishes to discuss accommodations on the basis or a disability, please come and talk to me after class or during office hours.

Lab Rules:
Use of beepers and cell phones is prohibited in the classroom environment. Please turn them off during class hours.

No food or drink near computers!

update 8/22/06