Saturday, 1 February 2020

CR4002 - Showcase - "Animation Bibles"

Soap Opera by Bruno Urzi
At the end of 2019 our first year undergraduate animation students completed 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.

Part of the module was "Movement & Narrative", a two-week mini-module taught by character designer Steven Sole and exploring the basics of creativity, storytelling, and design, at the end of which our students pitched an idea for an original TV or web series, including a so-called "animation bible".

First Year of Undergraduate Study at Escape Studios
"Giles and Rupert's Prehistoric Predicament" (see credits below)
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.

CR4002 – Creative Foundations Craft  (30 Credits)
Creative Foundations is 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.

The Superb Science of Sebastien Sebastienov by Ed Soolia
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 pitches 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.

Tutor - Steve Sole
Steve Sole
This year the tutor for both modules, CR4002 and PR4001, was character designer & visual development artist Steven Sole.

Steven Sole came to us from Framestore and also from Tiger Aspect Productions, where he was Art Director on the hit TV series Mr Bean.

Steve is an experienced character designer and, to judge by the remarkable work which came out of this year's class, well capable of inspiring our students to do excellent work. To see some of Steven's work, visit his official site.

Course Outline 

"Daisy the Detective" by Grace Collett
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.

Story fundamentals
What are the basic rules of storytelling? What makes a good story? What makes characters memorable? Students do plenty of quick in-class exercises to think about story and character.

Story boarding 
"Wonderful Wasteland" by Jamie Pitcher
Students are introduced to the art and craft of storyboarding, learning the basics of narrative structure. This also includes exploration of character 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
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.

"Interstellar Encounters" by Molly McCabe
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 figures are permitted - and encouraged. These classes are not about having good drawing skills, rather they are about learning clear communication of an idea.

On the final day of the class, students pitch their own idea for an animated TV or web series.

Unicorn Days by Shenaz Suliman
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.

The art of the pitch
As with all good pitches, the idea is to throw out a hook and get your audience interested in the idea.  If your audience likes it, they will want to know more, and - who knows? - they might even invest their time, money or effort in your project.

At Escape Studios our students don't just learn technical skills, they also learn to create their own characters and ideas. Even in their second year, our students are already collaborating together and working on award-winning films such as Planet Mars and Golden Acorn.
"Colour Vision" by Whitney Achonwa

PR4001 – Creative Foundations Project (2 week group project) (30 Credits)
The next module students tackle is: PR4001 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.

More recently, 1st year undergraduate Toby Haslam and others created this teaser/trailer below for his original series concept "Giles and Rupert's Prehistoric Predicament":

Giles and Rupert's Prehistoric Predicament - credits
Giles and Rupert's Prehistoric Predicament was directed by Denise Esposito, and produced by Toby Haslam. Louis Chevis was the lead animator, Cameron Haley did did animation and FX, Joseph Dunn did character turnarounds, and Oriyarna Olaku did the colour scripts.

I am always impressed by the remarkable creative output of our students at Escape Studios - all the projects shown above have the creative potential to be taken forward and developed as TV series in their own right.

How to make an Animation Bible
To see more about how to make an animation "bible", see this blog post.

Studying at Escape Studios
To see what's involved in studying at Escape Studios, follow the links below:
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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