Author: Marc Russo, Associate Professor of Animation and Interactive Media, North Carolina State University
Role: Course Instructor
What did you want students to be able to do by completing this assignment?
Practice research methods.
Plan the animation with storyboards and concept art.
Create an animatic to think about the timing of the animation.
Connect choices from the designed animation to the historic figure.
Consider how the audience would experience the animated story making sure that it was clear and easy to follow.
Present the quote using text, image, color, composition, and timing in a way that expresses the students unique understanding of the quote.
The students were work on two different levels. First they had to research the historical figure and make choices in the planning and storyboarding process that were inspired and determined by the personality of the person, or the context and meaning of the quotation. For instance, their choice of font should not be arbitrary. There should be a rational that connects the font choice to the historic figure or quote. They also had to consider if their presentation of the quote, based on the choices they made, could give the audience a deeper understanding of the quote.
Second, they had to plan the animation in storyboards and try to make choices about timing before they started the animation process. The students needed to considered the composition over time, thinking about the audience and how they would hear and read the quote.
Was there anything this assignment taught students that you felt they wouldn't have been able to learn through other types of class assignments?
Students were to be come proficient in moving assets from one program to another. They leaned how to build an animatic in After Effects so that they had the timing of their animation locked before they started to animate. They learned how to animate in After Effects using a variety of techniques. They also learned how to render their animation.
What is the course title and level?
ADN400 - Design Studio
Most of the students had never storyboarded or animated in After Effects before. So this is a beginning to novice level assignment. Working with primarily type makes asset creation, storyboarding, and animation easier.
What kinds of prior knowledge is necessary to complete this assignment? How do students gain this knowledge?
Students needed to be able to work in Illustrator or Photoshop to plan the animation as a storyboard. All the After Effects skills can be taught in the context of this assignment. The knowledge of Illustrator or Photoshop came from a previous course focused on digital image creation.
The students are to select a recorded quote from a historical figure, or record someone reading the quote. Using primarily text they are to create a motion graphic style animation illustrating the quote. The choices made from font, to color, to timing should be informed by the historical figure, the time period from which the quote comes, the context, and the meaning.
How much time did you allot to this project?
The project took 4 weeks to complete. Two weeks were spent on planning and two weeks on animating and rendering.
What kinds of support or training did you provide to help students learn to use new techniques or specialized tools?
The students got a basic introduction to storyboarding and animation planning. They also got a short introduction to film language and how composition in time has some different attributes from a static 2D composition. We also spent many days introducing the animation tools in After Effects and did a large number of tutorials as questions arose about how achieve certain effects in After Effects.
Did you need any specialized equipment, tools, or human resources to make this assignment feasible? If so, please describe.
There was no specialized equipment needed. Only a decent laptop with Adobe Creative Suite. The benefit of this project is that it uses mostly vector type that can be created in After Effects. This means that the computing power for the animation is fairly low.
How did you assess or grade this project?
The students were graded on the craft of their final work and meeting deadlines, but they were also assessed on how they engaged the process of developing an animation. They were required to do research, come up with multiple ideas, develop thumbnails, storyboards, and work iteratively. After each critique they were challenged to deepen their work by considering how the design choices they were making were deepening the work.
Grading took place over the course of the assignment. First there was a grade for the planning phase and research, then there was a grade for the storyboard and animatic, and finally there was a grade for the final film.
If you assigned this project again, would you change anything? If so, what?
I would better lay out what choices I wanted them to think about after each iteration, so that more of the students were at the same point through the project and they could better assess each other's work.
Describe any trouble spots or complications someone else might want to be aware of before trying a similar assignment in a course of their own.
It is difficult for some students to understand the importance of a storyboard and an animatic before starting to animate. Iterating on the animatic is another area where many needed to be pushed.
Students can get out the far side with a good looking product without engaging the storyboard and animatic completely, but they miss the chance to really push their work to a deeper level.