Syllabus - Fall 2008 - ARTC 413 - Bowling Green State University

ARTC 413:

Adv. Digital Character Animation I
Saritdikhun Somasa
Sec 2: T/Th 2:30-4:50
1030 Fine Arts Center

Office Hrs:

1024C Fine Arts
Wed. 2-5pm
syllabus | schedule | topics | assignments | class notes | resources | students | ARTC courses
Reading Materials

Required (get at,, etc.):

  • Ideas for the Animated Short: Finding and Building Stories, Karen Sullivan et al. $29.95
  • Creating Characters with Personality, Tom Bancroft $19.95
  • An Essential Introduction to Maya Character Rigging, Cheryl Cabrera $49.95


  • Storyboards: Motion in Art, Mark Simon $39.95
  • Film Directing: Cinematic Motion a workshop for staging scenes, Steven Katz $24.95

  • Supplies

    Digital storage:
    Firewire External Drive (formatted for both Mac and PC), 4-8 GB Flash Drive and DVD-R/DVD+R disks. You will be expected to back up your data a minimum of once a week.

  • Black 3-ring binder notebook
  • 8.5 x 11 plastic page protectors
  • Note cards - 4" x 6" for storyboards
  • Drawing supplies and paper

  • Objective
    The course is the first of a two-course sequence. The course will cover 3D animation pre-production including narrative language and storytelling, scriptwriting, storyboarding, character design, animatics, character modeling and rigging for animation. Students are expected to build upon the knowledge obtained in the Intermediate Animation class.

    Class lectures will include demonstrations, discussions, technical exploration, aesthetic inquiry and historical information relevant to computer animation, character development and storytelling. Students are encouraged to pursue areas of interest and explore new ideas throughout the course.
    Steps to making a short animation
    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 short animations 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.

    Story Visualization (Including character development and storyboarding)
    This section is comprised 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 cinematics. Both Hollywood and independent films will be used for studying the camera shots. Students will also create the layout and concept art of each scene to set the mood of the story.

    Character Modeling and Rigging (as well as Setting Modeling)
    Students will create the 3D models of their characters in Maya and rig them using joints and Inverse or forward kinematics. The costumes, textures and any additional features or props of the characters need to be modeled, textures and lit. Students will also create the setting of the animation in Maya and texture and light the scene. Essentially all modeling, texturing and lighting should be done during the fall semester.

    Animatic and Story Reel
    Students are required to create their final animatics and story reels 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 the visual style and the mood of each sequence.
  • Using motion, timing, duration, camera angles shots and shots, as well as lighting, screen layouts, and composition effectively.
  • Developing digital production styles involving techniques such as scanning, drawing, photography and video referencing.
  • Fine tuning character appearances, mood, lighting and set design.
  • Developing the sound design including sound tracks and sound effects that go with the script and match the camera shots.

    Students will use these techniques to complete their final animatic.

    Overall Goal
    The goal of this semester is to have all the components completed necessary for the final animation. This includes:
  • Setting/Environment all modeled, textured and lit
  • Characters modeled, textured and rigged
  • Story completed and character profile
  • Animatic and story reel completed
  • Animation test of the main character using the rig
  • Expectations
    Each student is expected to complete all projects, exercises, in-class exercises, the required readings, a final story reel, a modeled and textured environment and all characters modeled by the due dates. Details of the various assignments will be discussed in class. By the end of the semester, the final character designs, and documentation of your story should be part of your animation bible.

    During class time, students are expected to engage in meaningful classroom participation.
    There will be screenings of animations throughout the semester. Exercises, assignments and/or class discussions may be based on material shown at the screenings. Everyone is expected to participate.
    Attendance is mandatory. We will be covering a variety of materials throughout the semester, building upon each lecture. If missed, lectures will not be repeated. If you do have an excused absence, it is your responsibility meet with a classmate or make an appointment with me to get the information.

    1 absences = no penalty
    2 absences = overall final grade lowered 1 letter grade
    3 absences = overall final grade lowered 1 letter grades
    4 absences = fail the course; dropping the course strongly recommended.

    Being 15 minutes or more late to class three times will count as one unexcused absence.

    Assignments and Critiques
    Turning in Projects
    Projects are due in the Homework folder prior to the beginning of class.

    Revised projects are due exactly one week from the critique date, I do not accept late revised projects and you will receive a zero on the revised project if it is NOT turned in on time.

    If you miss a regular critique, the project for that critique will be lowered by one letter grade.

    During critiques, I expect each student's full attention and respect. Monitors will be TURNED OFF during critiques. Critiques begin promptly at the beginning of the class.

    Final Critique
    Attendance at the Final critique is mandatory. Missing the final critique will result in an F for the Final Project. NO late Final Projects will be accepted!
    90 - 100
    89 - 80
    79 - 70
    69 - 60
    59 - 0
    A = Excellent - Above and beyond, artistically AND technically
    B = Very Good - Beyond requirements, artistically OR technically
    C = Average - Met the basic requirements
    D = Did not meet requirements
    F = Project not turned in or completely insufficient
    Digital Arts Department Rules
    • No food or drink in the lab.
    • No cell phones, or beepers on during class. ALWAYS remember to turn off your cellphone before class.
    • No sleeping during class.
    • Hardware: No student is permitted to disconnect, reconnect, or reconfigure any workstation without the permission of a digital arts instructor. Any problems with hardware or software must be reported to a digital arts professor, preferably by email. Report should include name of workstation and exact nature of problem.
    Student Projects
    Projects created in any Digital Arts course may be used by the ART department for the purpose of promoting the student, the department and/or the university in general. These materials may also be used by the ART department for instructional purposes in future courses. Please inform the instructor if you do not want your projects used.
    Any student who wishes to discuss accommodations on the basis of a disability, please come talk to me after class or during office hours. The goal of the Disability Services for Students Office is to help provide equal access and reasonable accommodations to BGSU students with disabilities. Students wishing to discuss their eligibility for such accommodations are encouraged to contact their office at 372-8495 (413 South Hall).