IDM Unit VI: Animation

Project VIG Defying Reality through Animation

Studio Fundamental: To demonstrate the understanding of 'Stop motion' (pop. frame-by-frame), a generic term for an animation technique that makes static objects appear to move. The object is moved very small amounts between individual frames, producing the effect of motion when the film is played back, as in conventional drawn and painted animation.

Concept: To utilize stop-motion animation as a vehicle for creating narratives that explore actions and situations that couldn't occur in reality, or to bring life to images or objects that are otherwise without it.

Project Overview Your challenge is to create a minimum 30 second narrative using stop motion animation. The type of animation used can vary greatly depending on the needs of the narrative, and can include clay painting, clay animation, pixilation, mixed/live animation, or other techniques. The animation will be hopefully posted to YouTube.
References for further study

-- An excellent source for examples of storyboarding.
--Youtube and Google Video are excellent sources for finding examples of every kind of stop-motion technique. A simple 'stop motion animation' search will yield immediate results, of varying quality.

--Taylor, Richard. The Encyclopedia of Animation Techniques. Running Press, Philadelphia, 1996. ISBN 1-56138-531-X
--Fantasy Theme on artCORE website:


stop motion, frame-by-frame, pixilation, fps/framerate, persistence of vision, clay animation vs. Claymation

Materials digital camera, tripod, proper lighting, subjects for animation (characters, objects, sets, actors), video editing software such as Adobe Premiere, and software for stitching still images into a video such as MonkeyJam (

Preparation: Read the artCORE thematic inquiry unit on "fantasy."

1. Brainstorm and Storyboard: After studying a number of other animations found online and assessing personal interests in materials or content, create a storyboard outlining key points and important shots in your film. Think of it as a visual comic strip.

2. After discussing the storyboard with the instructor or other students, refine your storyboards and make them readable and generally interpretable to others. You don't have to be good at drawing to make them readable.

3. Examine your camera. Find out if it has capacity to disable 'white balance' and other auto-corrections. Turn down image resolution to 800x640 or smaller unless high resolution is extremely important to you.

4. Prepare your filming objects! Build your puppets, assemble your figures, purchase your clay, construct your sets, dress your actors.

5. Set up your lighting so it is strong and consistent.

6. Take some sample sequences. Do some tests on trickier or less important sequences to get a feel for movement.

7. After analysing the test sequences by running them through MonkeyJam, return and complete taking photos! Keep in mind you want between 12 and 24 shots per second... you should be aiming for 500 MINIMUM useable shots. Always take more than you think you'll need. It's easier to cut things out than to film more later.

8. Assemble your MonkeyJammed sequences in Premiere, adding sound effects, narration, or musical tracks.

9. Add title and credits, making sure to credit anyone that helped you and citing any images, music or text that you incorporate.

10. Register for Youtube or another video site and upload that sucker!

Critique Ideas

Here are sample questions to use in a critique.

1. Can you describe this work using at least 3 vocabulary words from this unit?

2. What is the initial "feeling" or emotional response you get when first viewing this work?

3. Can you get a sense of the artist pesonality from the work?

4. What element in this animation was the most successful that should be carried to the next project?

5. What element in this animation is the least successful that needs more attention?

6. Did you do something worth animating? Or would straight video have been better?

Animation Rubric suggestions Exemplary Solid Passing Poor Failing
Technical: Was your animation long enough (30 sec/person)? How smooth is your animation? Is the framerate high enough (More than 12, no more than 24)? Is the sound quality good and complimentary to the animation? Did you use a stop motion technique in a compelling way? Is your image quality clear enough? Was the lighting adequate? Is any text used easy to read and spelled correctly? Is everyone properly credited? 50 40 30 20 10
Aesthetic: Is your animation compelling to watch? Do you utilize good proportions in your frame positions? Is the pace of your animation well thought out? Is there an 'intensity' curve to your storyline (beginning, middle, climax, resolution)? Are your objects/actors well-crafted and interesting? Does it evoke an emotion? 35 28 21 14 7
Conceptual: Does your animation make sense? Can the audience follow what is happening? If there's no narrative, is there an interesting progression or atmosphere created? What does the audience learn or discover over the course of the extremely short animation? 40 32 24 16 8
Storyboard: Is there a clear goal set by the storyboard? Is the proposed animation's direction clearly depicted by the storyboard? Do you deviate wildly from your storyboard in your animation, or stick more or less to the plan? Did you actually make the storyboard BEFORE the animation? Is the text used clear and correctly spelled and written? 25 20 15 10 5

Total points: 150

developed by Arius Elvikis copyright 2007

Return to UNIT VI Overview