Advanced Animation - CTE Online Model

by CTE Online Admin

This is a Project-Based course focusing on the use of current industry software [ex. work with CGI] in digital animation. Units will be designed around the creation of projects for students to design, build, create, or perform. Advanced Animation is one of two capstone courses in a high school course series (Media Design 2, Media Design 3) to complete an introduction to a comprehensive multimedia design training.

About the Team: This structure of this course and the materials contained within it were created by a team of educators from across the state with support from the CTE Online curriculum leadership team and detailed coordination provided by the Course Specialist Shawn Sullivan.

From CALPADS: Advanced Animation (Capstone)

This capstone course will provide students with the opportunity to function in a variety of roles within the animation production team. Students will utilize skills acquired in introductory and concentration level animation courses to solve authentic industry problems and to produce a variety of professional quality animation products.

Program Information
CTE Certification Elements
Standards
California's 2013 CTE Standards (5)
California English Common Core Standards (12)
California's 2008 CTE Standards (57)
California Academic Content Standards (7)
Prerequisites

Advanced Animation is one of two capstone courses in a high school course series (Media Design 2, Media Design 3) to complete an introduction to a comprehensive multimedia design training.

Competencies / Outcomes

Unit 1: Character Animation

Performance Competencies:

  • Students will be able to demonstrate the animation principle of Squash and Stretch.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the animation principle of follow through.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the animation principle of anticipation.
  • Students will be able to produce rough layouts of proper staging.
  • Students will learn to create animation by using the straight ahead and pose to pose process of animation.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate in their animation the concept of slow in and slow out.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the animation principle of timing.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the animation principle of overlapping action.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the animation principle of exaggeration.

Possible 2-4 Week Projects:

  • Animate a bouncing ball cycle moving in X,Y and Z space.
  • Animate a diminishing bouncing ball interacting with its environment.
  • Animate a walk cycle or a character interacting with a simple object such as a ball or box.
  • Animate a flag.
  • Animate a roller coaster with high and low points.
  • Create an animated short that tells a story with a beginning, middle and end.

Unit 2: Storyboarding

Performance Competencies:

  • Students will be able to produce sketches, and rough layouts in a sequential order.
  • Students will be able to create storyboards of the written words from a script.
  • Students will be able to evaluate, produce and design storyboards that demonstrate composition, cutting, staging writing and acting.
  • Students will develop timing and pace of the movements of a character or object during the sequence of images.
  • Students will be able to create a story with a beginning, middle and end.

Possible 2-4 Week Projects:

  • Storyboard a scene from a play.
  • Reverse engineer an animated cartoon.
  • Create an animatic that follows a soundtrack.

Unit 3: Layout and Backgrounds

Performance Competencies:

  • Students will be able to create sketches, artwork or illustrations, which are camera ready, using a range of materials.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate proper use of the elements and principles of design.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the rules of perspective in their drawings.
  • Students will learn to create and design models, backgrounds, sets, characters, objects and environments using various technical 2D and/or 3D software packages.

Possible 2-4 Week Projects:

  • Draw a location at your school.
  • Paint a background that has foreground, middle ground and a background.
  • Design a set to be used for stop motion animation.

Unit 4: Character Design

Performance Competencies:

  • Students will learn to create observational gesture drawing.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate color and shape theory within their character design.
  • Students will be able to evaluate and identify the animation principle of solid drawing and appeal.
  • Students will be able to design a character, in a variety of materials, using digital and traditional techniques.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate proper use of the elements and principles of design.
  • Students will be able to draw a character in various positions (front view, ¼ front view, side view, ¼ back view and back view)
  • Students will be able to design character concepts in various styles of art for multiple types of productions.

Possible 2-4 Week Projects:

  • Design a hero and villain.
  • Create a complete model pack.
  • Design a movie poster.
  • Create a professional quality portfolio.
  • Create an animation cel.
Units

Idea and Pitch

All great productions start with an idea. Coming up with a production idea is a challenging stage for anyone. This Unit covers the many aspects of idea development, refinement and organization. Through the lessons provided students willl be able to bring their ideas to life through brainstorming, storyboard development, scripting, and pitching their ideas for feedback.

Students will learn to organize and develop their projects in this important stage of pre-production, using handouts to capture ideas and thoughts, writing scripts, and drawing rough and developed storyboards. Students will also learn to pitch their ideas in a professional mannner to their peers and instuctors and provide meaningful feedback.

Resources provided will give the instructor and students examples of story development, storyboard activities and references for camera shots, script templates, and rubrics for assessment of drawings, scripts, storyboards, and pitches.

Since their development early on in the animation and motion picture industry, storyboards and pitching of ideas has been a crucial part of a production process, allowing all members of a production to understand the goals and direction of the piece. Today storyboards and the skill of storyboarding are widely used in many industries, from boardroom presetations, to video game design, interactive media.

The skills covered in this section are essential in the studio for the following industry related professionals: Producers, Directors, Writers, Art Directors, Layout Department, Character and Environment Designs, Entertainment Designers, and Game Designers.

The skills covered include production team organization, story and concept development, script writing, and presentation.

Approximately
2 - 3 weeks

Visual Research, Development, and Design

An animation production, regardless of style, technique, or length, will require a great deal of visual research, development and design. The early stages of production will typically require the designing and planning of characters, environments, architeture, and visual effects.

The process of developing the look and feel of an animation production will involve several stages including breaking down the story, research and reference, and developing solutions through sketches and color roughs.

In this Unit students will learn about how to identify what research needs to be done for a production, how to organize, share, and utilize their research, how to establish a look and a feel for production, and presentation and showcase for the production. Students will use a combination of media to accomplish the various activities, including pencil, pen, digital tablets, photos, and social media for research and sharing.

Identify in a few sentences the project your students will design, build, create, or perform within one of the units in your course area. This project should involve hands-on or production-oriented skills.

The skills covered in this section are essential in the studio for the following industry related professionals: Art Directors, Layout Department, Character and Environment Designs, Entertainment Designers, and Game Designers.

The skills covered in this section are research, concept design, development, organization, and presentation.

Approximately
4 - 6 weeks

Character Design

Animation productions are about bringing appealing characters to life. The characters can be humorous, cute, villianous,beautiful, or ugly, but regardless they must appeal to the audience. This unit covers the skills, methods and approaches of developing character designs for an animation production. Students will be designing, developing, and creating character sheets for an animation production. The goal is to develop a series of finished reference drawings of characters that would show the character from various angles, views, positions, and expressions. This is really the part prior to actual animation where the artist begins to bring life and personality to the characters. Character design work is important for creating the appeal and visual qualities of the production.

The skills covered in this section are essential in the studio for the following industry related professionals: Art Directors, Layout Department, Character and Environment Designs, Entertainment Designers, and Game Designers.

The skills covered in this section include fundamentals of drawing and character design. The work produced in this section would be shared with the various departments of a production team to ensure the consistent look and feel of characters.

Approximately
4 weeks

Storyboard

Storyboarding is a step in video and film production of all kinds from TV commercials to music videos to feature films. Storyboards are almost always used in animation and special effect shots and often also used in live action production.

The final project of this unit is the production of a storyboard from the script of a play. Students will conceive of the setting, character design, camera positions. They will reformat dialog from the script. They will write and rewrite stage direction. They will consider timing and sound. Proper storyboard format will be used. In short students will show the story visually.

Leading up to the final project will be two shorter lessons in which studets will produce a 4 frame storyboard and reverse engineer a longer, approximately 25-frame storyboard. Then they will study the Story boarding tips of Brad Bird and revise their own work.

This storyboard could be used as the basis for an animatic and layout that could then lead on through further steps to a finished film.

The skills covered in this section are essential for storyboard and layout artists in the film, TV, animation, and video game industries.

The final assessment will include self and peer review as well as teacher assessment.

Approximately
4 weeks

Layout

Introduction to Layout:

Layout is a question of drawing and background is a question of painting. Another way to say it is that layout is like designing a set which supports all the action in the story. The relationship between the characters' actions and the background is the focus of the layout artist, so the layout artist must study both the Character Model Sheets and the Storyboard. The layout artist explains the set and the relationship between the set and characters with drawings.

In this project, students will create a "Layout Pack" based on the storyboard for a 'Got Milk' commercial. The pack will include the following:

  1. A map of the area
  2. Research pack
  3. Layout design for each area in the scene
Training Activities
3 Days

Background

Background artists take the storyboard and layout and produce final backgrounds. Final Backgrounds are fully colored and detailed, and they are the final images that appear in a project.

The Background artist can work in traditional pens/paper and/or paint or the new digital media world. Regardless of tools they should be able to consider light and shadow, create space using all the tricks of perspective, and create a variety of texture. They should be capable of very detailed work and still keep the overall purpose of the background in mind.

Perhaps most importantly they should be able to create space for and direct attention to the action. Good backgrounds do not attract too much attention to them selves. A perfectly done background will provide a rich experience to the viewer. Most viewers will remember the characters fondly, not realizing how much the background did to make them memorable.

Approximately
4 weeks

Sound and Story

In this unit the students will learn about the importance and development of sound design for animation. The following lessons they will provide an understanding of the historical aspects and elements of sound design, discover how sound is applied and created for various types of animated films, and the students will develop their own soundtrack for an animatic/story reel.

The student-designed soundtracks will be viewed and critiqued by their peers.The student-led critique will look for sound continuity and how it relates to the story reel/animatic. They will recognize how each others tracks enhances their individual pieces and discuss their individual design process.

Related careers with this unit:

Storyboards and storyreel artists translate screenplays, or sequences from screenplays, into a series of illustrations in comic book form. These illustrations have two functions: to help directors clarify exactly what they want to achieve, and to illustrate to all other heads of department exactly what is required, e.g., prosthetics for makeup, computer generated Images (CGI) for visual effects, props for the art department, etc.

Sound Designers are responsible for providing any required sounds to accompany screen action. They work closely with the production mixer, sound supervisor, the editor, and the director to create original sound elements. They may work with the director to create the entire soundtrack, or be hired just to create one kind of effect.

The Sound Editor creates the soundtrack by cutting and synchronizing to the picture, sound elements, such as production wild tracks, dialogue tracks, library material and foley in analog or digital form and presents these to the re-recording mixer for final sound balance. Depending on the complexity and the tightness of the schedule it may be necessary to employ a dialogue editor and/or foley editor. They work closely with the sound designer, re-recording mixer and the director to establish what sound effects are required throughout the production and to ensure that these effects are available from sound effect libraries, or can be created to production requirements within tight time schedules.

The Video Editor assembles materials such as graphics, photography, dialogue, raw camera footage, sound effects and other special effects into a finished product with quality, length or production acceptable for broadcasting. Video editors are usually hired on a per-project basis by private companies, television, advertising firms and post-production studios.

Approximately
4 weeks

Rough and Key Animation

The following unit will cover the concept of rough and key and how it applies to animation. Using principles of design, principles of animation, and composition the students will set the stage for the characters, place them in 3D space and place a camera in the scene to begin blocking out shots.

Through the rough and key animation process students will develop a non traditional walk cycle and they will apply industry standards and practices to their individual animations. They will also be able to recognize the importance of utilizing and applying the concepts of roughing and keying an animation and when and where to apply the principles of animation.

Layout artists are the ones who actually break up the 2D sketches provided by the storyboard supervisor into 3D shots. In television shows, they're also called cinematographers and they set up camera angles and plot down the action that is going to happen in that scene. Although in 3D animation, they set up files with camera angles and also set up the scenes with all the scripts, dialogues, camera angles and more associated to it which can then be transferred to the production department for production. They may also be called Layout Technical Directors sometimes.

Approximately
4 weeks

Polish Animation

In this unit, students will use a series of images shot with a DSLR and combine these images into a final finished/cleaned film. An emphasis will be placed on the organization of multiple images.

The outcome of this unit is to produce a finished/cleaned film. This film is primarily a tool for learning the process of shooting and cleaning a pixelation. Depending on the outcome, however, it can be used for competitions and other exhibitions or part of a portfolio reel.

The skills obtained in the cleaning portion of animation are as follows:

  • Attention to Detail
  • Organization
  • Ability to mange complex parts and combine them into a whole

All of the skills that students will learn in this unit can cross over to a variety of jobs in the animation industry. Students will learn skills that will help them think creatively, solve problems, organize data, use industry standard software to realize a project, and finalize a finished film.

Approximately
4 weeks

Color, Texture, Lighting

In this project, students will be making a simple stop motion animation set. Students will build, texture, and light their set.

Stop motion animation, and animation in general, are employable skills. Students can use the skills they learn in this lesson to create an animation they can use as part of their portfolio. Students can use their portfolio as a means to employment, or acceptance to further job training programs.

Approximately
4 weeks

Compositing

Compositing is a major part of digital media creation. It is used in animation, film/video, game design, print design, and more. In this project, students will be compositing multiple images togeather to make one image. Students will learn what compositing is, and how to composite video with cut out animation.This project will be used for portfolios and screenings.

Resources needed: digital cameras, scanners, paper cut outs, video clips, and Adobe After Effects.

Approximately
5 Hours

3D Origins: The Cornell Box and Beyond

How are realistic depictions of lighting, materials and physics simulated in 3D Software? 

Realistic 3D animation is used in numerous industries, from medical imaging, product design and prototyping, television and film making. Films using Autodesk’s software has won numerous Academy Awards (http://news.autodesk.com/2012-02-16-14-Academy-Award-Nominated-Movies-One-Thing-in-Common).

In this challenging series of lessons, students will be introduced to 3D software (Autodesk’s Maya) and learn how to create realistic three dimensional computer generated imagery. Students will be introduced to the software with a skill building project, before proceeding to create what is called a Cornell Box. The Cornell Program of Computer Graphics has become best known for its research on physically based rendering. They believe that computer graphics simulations will never become predictive of reality unless we can correctly model the physics of light reflection and light energy propagation within physical environments. Students will first model the box, then create realistic lighting, materials and light sources and render their scene using an advanced render engine called Mental Ray. Finally, students will create an example of simulated dynamics and attempt to create a Newton’s Cradle.

Autodesk's Maya is free for educators, set your lab up with this powerhouse software package beforehand. This software can be challenging to use (it is very complex) but there are many resources online in video and written format.

3D Origins: Modeling and Motion PBL Project

How are objects modeled and animated in 3D software? In this series of lessons students will use Autodesk's Maya to learn how to move past 3D primitives and begin creating 3D models of increasing complexity, then animate and render them.

Realistic 3D animation is used in numerous industries, from medical imaging, product design and prototyping, television and film making. Films using Autodesk’s software has won numerous Academy Awards (http://news.autodesk.com/2012-02-16-14-Academy-Award-Nominated-Movies-One-Thing-in-Common).

In this fun and challenging series of lessons, students will learn how to make simple models using techniques such as box modeling to replicate objects. They will then move onto creating shapes using revolve and extrusion methods. Students will learn how to use vector art origins for complex extrusions and replicate items like the inner workings of a hard drive or a guitar. Students will then move onto learning how to create simple animations using keyframes. Finally students will replicate a solar system using hierarchy's in animation. This project will build on previous experience in 3D from my lesson "3D Origins: The Cornell Box and Beyond". It can also be a great starting point for new users. Easy to follow guides and videos will help students on their path to 3D mastery. Autodesk's Maya is free for educators, set your lab up with this powerhouse software package beforehand. This software can be challenging to use (it is very complex) but there are many resources online in video and written format.

Digital Portfolio Development

The following unit will address the theories and skills necessary for students to create a professional digital portfolio. The students will assess portfolio goals and evaluate audience and industry expectations. Students will learn to organize and prepare traditional and digital files and editing them into a final demo reel as utilized within the animation industry. The demo reel will be posted online as presentation of the students best work, may be modified and utilized for job or internship applications, and varied for the college application process.

Animators-produce images that appear to come to life on screen. Their work is found in feature films, commercials, pop videos, computer games, websites and other media. They may work with drawings, specialist software or models and puppets, capturing separate images of each stage of a movement. When the images are viewed at speed the character appears to move. An animators portfolio shows the their artistic and professional abilities.

Approximately
4 weeks