Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Animation Short Course: Final Brief

Our 12 week animation course at Escape Studios builds up to a final project, to animate a line of dialogue in a fun and inventive way. The project is a chance for students to demonstrate their skill in character performance, using a rig of their choice. The shot can be up to 11 seconds in length, and the assignment can also be an opportunity to enter the monthly “11 Second Club” competition.  The final piece should be included in their animation demo reel, and uploaded to their blog or website.

Learning Outcomes
  • How to animate a dialogue shot to feature film quality
  • Use body gestures and dialogue to bring a character to life
  • Respond to industry feedback and notes
Character Rig 
Students can use any character rig they like for this shot. A useful place to start is the 11 Second Club Resources page:  Any chosen rig should be thoroughly tested in advance to make sure it is capable of carrying out a broad range of character movements, including dialogue, and has no major weaknesses.

Sets and environments
Students can use any set they like; a set can be a great way to fire the imagination and help create a story that is entertaining and fun. Freeware rigs and sets are available from and

Audio Files 
Students can choose any line of dialogue they like (it could, for example, be the current monthly 11 Second Club dialogue, or a clip from previous 11 Second Club competitions), up to 11 seconds long. Students should try to avoid famous lines of dialogue spoken by well-­known actors or characters (such as “You are not a toy, you’re an action figure!” or "go ahead punk, make my day"), as these lines evoke famous actors or performances and tend to create audience expectations which may not be easily fulfilled.

Animation style
The animation style should be character driven and of feature film quality, with appropriate acting choices, and skilled use of dialogue and lipsync.

Suggested Work Method
1. Listen to the line of dialogue and imagine what the performance might be.
2. Think about what you want to animate – try to picture it in your head.
3. Act the shot out yourself, filming yourself for reference.
4. What are the main poses in the shot?
5. Draw rough thumbnail sketches. Make sure you add facial expressions. Your thumbnails should show all the major acting changes in the shot
6. Add some rough timing to your thumbnails. At what frame number will each pose occur? You may be able to get this from the live action.
7. Import the character rig into your shot.
8. Import a set and any props you need.
9. Create a project and set to it.
10. Using your thumbnails, block out the key poses (starting with the beginning, middle and end) on stepped curves. You will need a start pose, an end pose, and a middle position. Consider showing a simple change in emotion.
11. Assuming it’s working OK, add some breakdown poses.
12. Finally, spline your animation curves.
13. Clean up your animation curves so that you have nice clear poses and snappy timing.
14. Remember, keep it short!. Cartoony lines of dialogue with strong, obvious accents are ideal.
15. Once your animation is done, add some lights.
16. Render
17. Upload your shot to YouTube and embed it at your blog or website

Feedback comes from our industry mentors, who have generously given up their time to give live feedback to our students.

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 2019, follow this link.   To apply, visit the official page here

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