Course notes
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Rules for Final Animation
Story Rules
  • The length of the animation should be 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • If it can be done in live action, it is not appropriate for this animation assignment.
  • Story has to have the story structure discussed in class
  • The story must take place in one location
  • No cliche stories (it's only a dream - alarm clock goes off at end)
  • The story must have conflict and resolution, a beginning, middle and end (but they can be experimental in how this is accomplished)
  • Highly encouraged: the story should make us think, feel or react in some way - touch us on a human level
  • No toilet humor
  • No killing the character

    Character Rules
  • No realistic human characters - be creatively different.
  • Only one main character that is rigged
  • One secondary character that can be an object or personified thing, not an animal or human (no rigging or use simple rigging)
  • No space ships, robots, tunnels, etc (CG cliches)

    Other Rules
  • Must have sound effect and sound track (appropriate to the story)
  • Must have a creative visual design to the piece (textures, color, lighting, composition)
  • Lecture 1
    Ottawa International Animation Festival, Sept 17-21, Wed - Sun. $165 for the full pass, $90 for weekend

    Syllabus and introductions


    What does the main character want?
    What moves him/her to action?
    What conflict does the main character meet with?
    What is the crisis point in the story?
    What did the main character learn that enabled her/him to move on?
    What was the conclusion of the story?
    How do you come up with stories?

    Brainstorming idea - techniques

    Generating ideas
  • Lists - anything that comes to mind
  • Make a list of emotion, cause and effect
  • Thesaurus or google search
  • Variations on a theme, interdisciplinary thinking, metaphorical thinking
  • Visualization - imagine yourself in the situation what might happen (come up with 10 possible scenerios)
  • Research - Library, videos, films, books, Internet
  • Thumbnailing and sketchbooks
  • Exercise - Story machine

    Stay open minded - refine and change ideas to try new things

    Discuss final story parameters

    animation pitch bibles

    Creative character design can enhance a story (Monsters, Inc., Shrek, Ice Age)
    Look for creative characters online.

    Discuss how to make the blog

  • Lecture 2

    Quiz over Ch. 1 reading

    Brainstorming and Story Engine continued

    In class Exercise: Story Machine
    2 stacks of cards with vocational label (doctor, janitor, etc) and strange or unusual behavior - shuffle the cards

    Why did the Card A do B?
    Add a conflict
    What does the character have to learn to overcome the conflict? How is it resolved in the end?
    Add details and tell us more about the story.

    How does the personality or physical traits of the character effect a story?

  • Write an occupation on one card
  • Write a strong personality trait on another card
  • Write a physical attribute on a card
  • Write a goal on a card (she wants to ...)

    We will shuffle the cards and pick one of each and each group of 2-3 will try to come up with a story that has conflict and resolution and meets all the criteria of narrative storytelling.

    Use elements that are true to life - people need to relate to the events or emotions in the story. Although you are expressing your idea, you are making the animation for the audience. Use ideas that will reach out to them and give them what they need to understand what you are trying to say.

    Characteristics of a Short Story
  • Arresting opening
  • Interesting plot
  • Well developed structure
  • Action
  • Tension
  • Clearly recognizable climax
  • Satisfying ending
  • One or two well developed characters
  • Effective use of dialogue (make a contribution to the story)
  • Skillful exploitation of conventions of the chosen genre
  • Use of setting to enhance the narrative

    All stories are about desire - the character wants something

    Point of View

    What are the different types of Point of View?

    How do you find the theme in a story?

    Short narrative stories should be able to fit into this format:

    Six Sentence Story Structure:
    1. The main character wants something
    2. Something moves main character to action
    3. Until main character meets conflict
    4. Then main character is in crisis
    5. Main character learns somethmething - discovers, finds, solves a problem, etc.)
    6. Main character succeeds or fails in getting what they want
    Seven Sentence Stories:

    What is a 7 sentence story?

    Sentence 1:Introduce Character A and place.
    Sentence 2: Introduce Character B and establish conflict.
    Sentence 3: Problem grows more complex.
    Sentence 4: Character A does something.
    Sentence 5: Character B does something.
    Sentence 6: Climax.
    Sentence 7: Resolution

    Premise or concept of the story is the basic essence of what it all means or the core values

    Ideas for the premise or story can come from a number of different things:

    A description of the situation:
  • Paintings come to life at night      
  • Child's favorite toy brings bad luck to everyone else      
  • Machine malfunctions to create brilliant invention      
  • Tries to sit down, but chair keeps moving.

    Moral of the story:
  • He who laughs last, laughs best      
  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.      
  • The early bird catches the worm.      
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

    An interesting object or character:
  • Bookbag of infinite belongings      
  • The book of no knowledge      
  • An uninspired motivational speaker      
  • Baby who will stop at nothing to get what it wants

    Watch animations

    A Great Big Robot From Outerspace Ate My Homework
    Gas Planet