Animation Assignments

In Animation: Master:

  • The following tutorials are graded:
    • You're The Director
    • Chorus Line
    • It's A Pitch
    • Take A Walk
    • The Door's Stuck
    • Can You Say That
    • Flower Power
    • FW-190 Fighter
  • Final Assignments:
    • Own Model
    • Own Animation

In Blender:

  • Model
  • Animation
Computers & Animation

Computers and Animation

We were all raised on Saturday morning cartoons and movies by Disney, Dreamworks and Pixar. Who can say how many imaginations were sparked to life or how many personalities have been formed by simple line drawings on paper. Everyone carries some vestige of fond remembrance of lazy mornings awaiting the adventures and the humor. Some people choose to make it their career; others want to visit the Magic Castle at Disneyland and maybe even have a creation of their own.

Because of the difficulty and skill required, there has never really been a place for dilettantes before the advent of the personal computer. Never before has there been such a massive upheaval of the animation industry. The computer makes possible projects that were never financially viable before.

History of Animation

History of Animation

The development of the motion picture projector was the result of a bet on whether a horse could fly. In 1872, a racehorse owner insisted that there were times when all four hooves of trotters were in the air at the same time. This was sacrilegious to trotter racers who take pride in how fast their horses can "walk," rather than gallop. Eadweard Muvbridge, a talented photographer known for his motion studies of human athletes, was brought in to confirm or deny the claim of the owner, who had shown faith in his hypothesis with a sizable bet among his peers. Muybridge placed dozens of trigger wires along the racetrack connected to evenly spaced cameras so as to snap a photograph whenever they were tripped. The horse trotted through the myriad of wires, snapping photograph after photograph in equal increments of time between them. When the photographic series was played back, the audience of bettors was surprised and aghast. The first motion picture film ever shown exhilarated them, and they were at a loss of their money because the horse did indeed "fly."

In 1914, Winsor McCay, a cartoonist and vaudevillian performer became the first animator, laboriously drawing frame after frame of the animation, "Gertie the Dinosaur", to show to paying audiences. Surprisingly enough, Winsor McCay was also the first to combine live action with animation when he interacted with Gertie in each choreographed performance to the audience's great approval.

Ub Iwerks, the artist for the early Mickey Mouse, was prodigious in his animation output, averaging a finished Film a month. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera brought animation to the infant and risky field of television just when the most major motion picture studios were closing down their own animation departments due to animation's great expense. Though many point to Disney as the progenitor of modem day animation, it was the Hanna-Barbera style and cost containment factors that really influenced the field and led to modem day look and story content.

Though new techniques have brought animation to the masses, normal people could only be viewers, not creators; it was still too difficult for aspiring storytellers to do on their own. Only the personal computer could break the barriers of talent, money, and time.

Martin Hash's The Art of Animation:Master© 2007

Animation Software

The Animation Software We Use

The software we use first is called Animation: Master, which competes feature-wise with the most expensive and complex movie special effects 3D computer programs but it is designed and written for someone who wants to get started right away and move onto more difficult things as you are ready. The animation training you learn in this class can be used anywhere - whether in traditional drawing or dazzling movie special effects.
Martin Hash's The Art of Animation: Master© 2007

We will also get an introduction to Blender which is an open source (free) full-featured modelling and animation software found at available on many platforms.

Other animation software:

  • Maya - is a product of Autodesk that is used in any industry that doesn't create it's own animation software.

  • Flash - by Adobe, allows 2d animation that is used extensively in web pages
Animation Process

Animation Process

Any animation project is divided into three parts:

Pre-production - Character design, script writing, storyboards, and dialog recording are defined as pre-production. What is the story all about and what will it look like when it is done? What does the character look like? What will the character act out? Will there be interaction with other characters? Is the skeleton capable of the animation that you have planned? All of these things are important questions that must be answered before you begin your animation. Story sequences can usually be described in a dozen or so numbered sentences.

Production - Animating is production.

Post-production - Lighting and rendering are post-production. Recombining the dialog track, credits, and adding sound effects and music finish the process.

For a detailed explanation see page 59 (reader pg 67) in the AM manual

Animation Ingredients

Animation Ingredients


  1. Pose to Pose
  2. Anticipation and Overshoot
  3. Follow Through
  4. Exaggeration
  5. Timing
  6. Balance and Weight
  7. Secondary Action
  8. Attitude
  9. Staging
  10. Squash & Stretch
Animation Terms

Animation Terms

  • Models - the characters for your animation projects
  • Actions - any prescribed, repeatable movement like a wave, a walk, a blink, a jump...
  • Lights - just like real lights they create a tone for your scene
    • Lighting plays an important part in storytelling; from the most obvious day verses night differences to the more esoteric mood indicators. (In fact, indoor light is different than outdoor light). Attractive lighting usually consists of many individual lights, strategically placed and colored to achieve the desired effect. Some lights cast shadows, while others are there only for highlights. Be comforted to know that even though technical directors can spend their entire careers becoming lighting specialists, you are provided with the basic 3-point light setup in a new choreography.
  • Camera - the view from which your animation appears to be seen by the viewer
    • SHOT VOLUME The camera cone contains the shot volume, a term used by filmmakers to describe the emotional breadth of a camera composition. If a nearby wall closes off the camera cone, the shot volume is very small and the audience’s attention is limited to a very small space. If the camera can see all the way to the horizon, the shot volume is very large and the audience perceives a great deal of openness and space. Controlling shot volume for specific storytelling effects is part of being a good director.
    • REVEAL A common camera move is a reveal, where the camera begins with a mostly empty view, and moves to show the rest of the scene. This enables the director to focus the audience’s attention on one item at a time, instead of dividing their attention among all the items in a scene.
    • DOLLY A straight move of the camera with no rotation or zoom changes is called a dolly.
    • PAN A simple rotate of the camera.
    • INERTIA A real camera is heavy; it does not snap instantly from moving quickly to becoming perfectly still. Animation:Master creates this effect automatically. However, the computer camera is not limited by weight, size or inertia, and can easily do things that would be very difficult, even impossible, for a real-world camera.
    • POINT OF VIEW (POV) One of the most useful storytelling techniques of camera movement is to animate the Camera as if it were an actor’s eye. This creates animations from the actor’s point of view, or POV, and is a very effective way of showing your audience what the actor sees. Used well, this cinematic technique can also encourage your audience to identify with the POV actor, or at least to better understand the actor’s motivation. Your ability to direct the camera enables you to make better pictures and to tell your animated stories more effectively. The quality of all your images and animations depends on how well you direct the camera. If you can do this well, there are many opportunities for you to make a living, or just have fun, creating animation with Animation:Master.
  • Choreography - what's happening and when it's happening in front of the camera

Animation Projects

  1. Design your own character, make a skeleton for it and create a short animation with it.
  2. Options for less points:
    • Use your flower in a short animation using other props and/or characters
    • Animate your fighter so the propeller spins and the plane flies a loop
    • Modify pitch tutorial to pitch a ball through a realistic trajectory
    • Create an animation using your walk action
    • Do one of the tutorials not required that would make for a good final animation.
  3. Own animation
    • Create a storyboard of your animation on this Storyboard form and search storyboarding for examples and help.
    • Intermediate progress calendar checks
    • Grading Criteria
      • Story - there's a point to the animation, not just movement.
      • Original - characters and/or actions aren't just dropped in.
      • Quality - motion is realistic or at least not bizarre.
      • Secondary – animation uses more than just a character and the default choreography and camera.
      • Entertainment - How badly do you want to see it again?
    • Evaluate your peer's animation's
      • How well does it match the storyboard?
      • How much time did it require (canned figures and actions?)
      • Does it have an intriguing storyline?
      • How is the quality of animation?
    • Application to Signal-To-Noise competition
    • Further film festivals and eventual employment with animation firm