Saturday, 17 August 2019

Movement & Narrative at Escape Studios

First year artwork by Ronnie Kaye
For our undergraduate students, Movement & Narrative is a two-week mini-module at Level 4 (ie the first year of undergraduate studies) exploring the basics of creativity, storytelling, design and even acting. Classes start on Monday 30 September.

Movement & Narrative forms a part of CR4002, the Creative Foundations Craft Module, which is a foundation course in creativity and creative thinking, taken by all our first year students, whether they are studying games, animation or VFX.

Some software, such as Photoshop, is taught in this module; but students are mainly encouraged to explore creative ideas and creative ways of thinking. 

In their first year of studies, all our undergraduate students study a broad art and design curriculum, enabling them to understand the whole animation, games and VFX pipeline before committing to a single specialism in their second year.

Art by Ronnie Kaye
CR4002 – Creative Foundations Craft  (30 Credits)
Creative Foundations is, as the name suggests, a foundation course in creativity and creative thinking.  The module is taught in the first term between September until Christmas.

Movement and Narrative
Movement & Narrative is a two week mini-module exploring the basics of creativity, storytelling, design and acting.

Students are taught in classes of 20-30 students, in two week blocks.  Students will study for 3 hours, either in the mornings or the afternoons (depending on their timetable), with the rest of the day devoted to self-study. As ever, students at Escape Studios are expected to study full-time, and use their free hours in the timetable to explore creative ideas and prepare for the next class.

Art by Ronnie Kay
In Movement & narrative, students have two weeks to tackle the basics of creativity, story, storyboarding, acting and design. On the last friday of the class, each student will pitch an original idea for an animated TV or web series.  

Classroom briefs
One of the early briefs we introduce is to re-imagine a classic fairy tale with a modern twist. For example, first year undergraduate student Ronnie Kaye re-imagined Little Red Riding Hood as a biker girl in a dystopian world.

Course Outline 

Concepts and Creativity
These creative workshops include simple in-class exercises about creative thinking, getting students used to the idea that there are no "right answers" in this class.

Character design by Maria Robertson
Story fundamentals
What are the basic rules of storytelling? What makes a good story? What makes characters memorable? Students will do fast in-class exercises to think about story and character.

Story boarding 
Students are introduced to the art and craft of storyboarding, learning the basics of narrative structure. This also includes exploration of facial expressions, body poses & silhouettes, and the basics of film editing and visual narrative.

Animation thumbnails
Closely related to storyboarding, animation thumbnail sketches help animators to plan and structure their work.

Design & Drawing
Artwork by Natalya Ropova
Students explore the fundamentals of design, including the basics of character design, visual development, and shape theory.  The class builds up to a final brief - Design and pitch of a TV series.

Gesture Drawing
Students learn to tackle fast gesture poses, drawing from life, learning to tell stories quickly and clearly using a few rough sketches. Stick men are permitted - and encouraged. This is not about drawing skills, rather about clear communication of an idea.

On the final day of the class, students will pitch their own idea for an animated TV series (see below)

Final Project
The final project includes a classroom pitch, complete with supporting material such as artwork (an animation "bible"), character design, and a pitch of the underlying premise. As with all good pitches, the idea is to throw out a hook and get your audience interested in the idea.  If they like it, they will want to know more. And who knows - they might even invest in your project.  Our students don't just learn technical skills, they also learn to create their own characters and ideas.

PR4001 – Creative Foundations Project (2 week group project) (30 Credits)
The next module students tackle is: Creative Foundations - Project. In this module, students take the skills they have learned in Creative Foundations - Craft, and complete a team project. In the case of our undergraduate animators, their task is to create an animatic for a proposed animated TV series.

Working in teams
For many of our students, this will be their first experience of a team project, working together in groups - just like in industry. You can see an example below, created by Paloma Zhu, Morgan Mda, Konrad Peczkowicz and Callum Wylie. 

"Alpha Lighthouse at Whale's End" Credits: Paloma Zhu: Director, story, concept art. Morgan Mda: Storyboards and concept art. Konrad Peczkowicz: Editor, sound design. Callum Wylie: Producer, post-production.

1st year at Escape Studios
To see what's in the first year of undergraduate studies at Escape Studios in more detail, read this post. To find out about the second year at Escape, follow this link. To see more about the third year, click here. And to find out more about our 4th and final year, read this post.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt, now recruiting for September 2020, follow this link.   To apply, visit the official page here.

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