Before you start any animation project you need to figure out what you’re doing. “What’s the piece about?” (Blazer 2).
Start with a Creative Brief: (I’ll use Module 1 as an example)
- What must it be: an animated Gif
- Who is it for: ICM504
- How long must it be: a couple seconds
- What is your objective with the piece: to show off my creativity and get a good grade
- When is it due: 10/28/18
Once you know all of this information take a step back and write down everything you know about the Big Idea. It can be anything, emotions you connect it with, an advertisement. Once you’ve jotted down all of your ideas it’s time to narrow everything down. You don’t want to take too many of the words and ideas you jotted down, “maybe four or five great ones” (Blazer 5).
Next, come the pitch and tagline. How are you going to sell this idea or design? Everyone needs a good hook. If you can draw an audience in they’ll be more likely to buy or enjoy it.
Once you’ve figured all of that out it’s time to previsualize. “This stage helps you define the look and feel of your production before it begins” (Blazer 9). It’s okay to find inspiration or influence from somewhere else. If there’s more than one influence, experiment. No one is going to get it right on the first try. You need to try and try again until you succeed. Make it a hands-on experiment. Do you whatever you want to make this project amazing.
In order to tell a good story, whether it’s through a design or a script it requires structure. First, the part of the story structure is Beats. These are, “the moment or active steps that move your story forward…” (Blazer 18). Find a bunch cue cards and get to work. On each card, write out each moment that will move the story along.
Once all the beats are finished it’s time to sort through all of them. Place them on the wall or the floor in chronological order in three rows. The three rows represent:
- A character has a problem
- The character works towards a solution
- The character solves the problem
Add a fourth beat that will serve as “additional beats” (Blazer 19). This allows you to put any beats that don’t fit with the structure of the story into its own row.
Act 1: Setting up character and conflict
- All the characters should be introduced.
- It should be established what they want.
- Introduce the problem.
Act 2: Working towards a solution
- Get into specifics about your characters.
- The more specific “the more opportunities you will have to create organic roadblocks for them” (Blazer 21).
Act 3: Attaining the big solve
- Should be the shortest of the acts.
- Characters should be facing their problem head on working towards a resolution.
- “The choice of best tending rests squarely on you establishing exactly what it is you’re trying to say with your story” (Blazer 22).
Once the beats and characters are all established it’s time to storyboard. The storyboard is a frame of each action. The first part of storyboarding is thumbnailing. Thumbnailing is a rough sketch for the storyboard. Its purpose is to “help you work out the sequencing of your “shots” (Blazer 39). An easy way to do this is to use Post-it notes. All you need to do is just draw stick figures. Once you’ve exhausted your supply of Post-it notes slap them on the wall and be prepared to revise. Look at the thumbnails and see if the shots make sense, if there are leaps in time or logic, does the story lag, do the scenes flow from scene-to-scene?
After thumbnailing is the actual storyboard. Storyboarding is a lot more elaborate than stick figures. It takes a lot of time to create a storyboard. Many storyboard artists make beautifully polished frames, but remember, the goal isn’t just high art, its clarity. The scenes should be clear to you and your audience. Once each frame is drawn out it’s time to write out the dialogue being said in the scene. Our favorite part comes next revisions. Find a small audience or someone you trust to ask you difficult questions and scrutinize the storyboard (constructive criticism only though). Pitching the storyboard to an audience will help you clarify your beats, and figure out if the scenes flow.
Once the storyboard is done move on to your shot composition. This means to draw out what each shot looks like. Do you want a close-up of something or “a slow, panning extreme wide shot will evoke the mountain’s peak at sunset?” (Blazer 43). Different sized shots should be composed. No one wants to see the same shot repeated over and over again.
Next, is framing the shot. “If sizing your shots is all about giving your audience the pertinent visual information they need, then framing the shot is all about keeping that eye interest” (Blazer 44). You don’t want your subject plopped in the middle of the frame, you want them just off-center. This technique is the “rule of thirds”. This is putting nine boxes divided equally, both horizontally and diagonally, in your shot. This allows to see if you want the subject in the bottom third, upper third, left third, etc.
Once the shot is framed the scene must be staged. This means that everything needed in the scene is put in the scene. It fills up space, so you’re subject isn’t just standing in an empty room saying lines.
Once all of the creative parts are finished it’s time to work on transitions and continuity:
- Observe Spatial Continuity:
- The rules established in the world must be consistent from shot to shot.
- Observe Temporal Continuity:
- The logic throughout the story must be consistent.
- Observe Directional Continuity:
- Make sure all of the actions from a character or object are going in the same direction.