Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Arts, Media & Entertainment

Lesson Plan Originally Created By: Matthew Dills

Straight Ahead Animation

Part of Unit: Animation Principles

Lesson Plan Overview / Details

Straight ahead animation is the process of starting at the beginning of a scene, and working your way through to the end of the scene. Usually one animator would work in this method from the start to the end of the scene. Straight ahead animation offers style and spontaneity to the animation, as opposed to Pose to Pose which is methodically planned out.

Lesson Time

4 Hours


Objectives and Goals

Students will learn what it means to shoot animation straight ahead as opposed to pose to pose animating. Through the lens of Bruce Bickford we will see the spontaneous magic of straight ahead animation, and through the creation of individual animations, students will have the opportunity to create their own straight ahead stop motion animation.

Activities in this Lesson

  • Intro-Hook Hooks / Set

    As students walk into the room a film clip from experimental animator Bruce Bickford will be playing. The film clip is a surreal clay animation which provokes thoughts of surrealism, creativity, and out of the box thinking. Bruce Bickford is a well respected independent animator and his stream of conscious animations are all shot straight ahead and off the cuff.

    The film clip should be playing on a loop as students enter the classroom. After the class has had an opportunity to view the clip pose the question-what is going on in this animation? Discuss the animated clip, steer the discussion toward the content as opposed to the technique. The animation is an art piece, similar to a sculpture by Marcel Duchamp, it can be interpreted, enjoyed, or disdained. The animation is a sculpture in motion, shot straight ahead, on film, with no frame grabber.

    Resources and Materials

  • Share with the students the definition of straight ahead animation.  

    Straight Ahead Animation

    Straight ahead animation is the process of animating a scene from beginning to end. Stop motion is a good example of straight-ahead animation wherein the animator must start at the beginning of a shot and continue animating until the shot is finished. Although poses can be planned into the animation, and you can animate pose to pose while working with stop motion, an animator does not have the luxury of drawing the main poses first and then going back and doing the in betweens.

  • Demo the Process Demo / Modeling

    To the side of the LCD projector instructor will have a simple stop motion set in place. A video camera with a live feed will be connected to the LCD projector. Instructor will demo the process of shooting a stop motion animated sequence with the emphasis on the fact the animation is being shot straight ahead

    The example can be the same as the one I provide in the podcast, or you can give them a simple demo working with the clay and talking about technique. You may even choose to watch the podcast as a class.

    After viewing the example performed by the instructor, students will complete their own straight ahead animation using the same technique.

  • Activity #4 Guided Practice

    Students will be shown where to access the podcast on animating the rolling ball. Students should watch the podcast in preperation for animation.

    Resources and Materials

  • After the students have watched the podcast, the group will reconvene to discuss the information.

  • Students will split into groups of two or three depending on the size of the class and the resources available. Students will animate the non objective straight ahead animation similar to the example demonstrated in the podcast.

  • On going, on the spot assessment will be the primary form of assessment during the project. By offering immediate feedback to student groups, the animators will be able to make adjustments to their work on the fly and improve the quality of their animations.

    After each group/group member has completed their animation an assessment of the animation will be made by the instructor and their peers. Critical feedback will be provided to each group member by both the instructor, peers, and through self assessment.

  • Activity #8 Assessment

    After initial assessment has taken place students will be shown model examples of completed animations. I have included one example, feel free to show some of the best work form the students.

    Resources and Materials

  • After students review model examples students will then go back to their groups and reanimate if necessary. Students who completed a successful animation the first time should help students who are struggling with the concepts and production.

  • Activity #10 Closure

    A class reel is assembled at the end of the project for viewing. The reel is projected on the screen via the LCD projector. The animation is critiqued by the class based on the rubric which has been used throughout the process.

  • Activity #11 Assessment
    • Ongoing observation of student progress will be the main form of assessment. The instructor, peers, and self assessment will take place throughout the duration of the project. All critical feedback will be based on an appropriate rubric.
    • A written analysis will be completed by each student about their own project.


Assessment Types:
Rubrics, Projects, Writing Samples, Demonstrations, Observations,
  • Animation_Rubric_Straight_Ahead.docx Animation_Rubric_Straight_Ahead.docx [ Download ] null