Friday, March 12, 2010

The long and the short of it

Animation projects take a long time no matter what software, planning schedule, skill level you have, they are just laborious. Trying to keep students interested in animation and its tedium is difficult and frankly I am not sure it is worth the results. In previous years the first project takes Edward Muybridge images and translates them into silhouettes to consider smooth movement in cell animation. This seems to work well to prepare the novice animator for the work ahead. Part two of the project maps a character the students have created onto the silhouettes to emulate the motion they have already performed. Lastly, the character is set in a short joke or tale that uses the motion of the character and some additional frames to tell the story.  The results for this three part project which, has been elongated into six weeks from its previous four week iteration, has not seen any improvement. In order to establish reachable landmarks for students mandatory dates to turn in parts of the project as we move through each stage were set. They have hit the deadlines but the final result of the project is still not well considered.

It is not unusual for students to overlook the final result of a project when they are so focused on the immediate "making" and completing. This is, in part, due to the nature of paper projects they have in graphic design which allow them to redo and review and redo multiple times. Time only allows for one well chosen plan of attack. Early sketching and sequencing inform the planning but not the crafting per se. Most students seem to be able to do this until it came to story boarding. Their drawing skills seem lazy and not given the attention it needs to consider the crafting of the character, environments or props that need to be included. It still seems as though connections of the obvious kind need to be literal an well established before they can embark on the long project. A better approach may take the form of collage and adding all the little bits together from short projects. The crafting should slowly improve as they create scenes instead of the whole movie, as well their approach should be more considered and efficient. This still will not produce quality animations but it may effect the telling of the story - that is - in a better way.