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Jul 04

Cartoon Boot Camp(week 3): Animation to Motion Comics notes

updated 7-4-10

Well, my students this past week were really doing some amazing things, and they wanted me to let them know of the tools and software that was used in class and I want to share with all of you in webland what they achieved.

First off we did some Pixalation and Stop Motion. Those are both the same thing, the moving of objects filmed one frame at a time. For Stop Motion we were using and older version of iStopmotion (version 1). It’s Macintosh based and very simple to use which is why I like it. I have not really had a chance to work with version 2 yet, but would like to try in the future.

The program was used with just a DV camcorder on a tripod pointing down at a table surface and connected to the computer with a firewire cable. We animated clip art from Dover: which I printed out from the files that came with the book. There was also a battle of Fish vs. Birds with the students drawing their own art.

iStopmotion was also used to film some classic style drawn animation pencil tests of a ball bouncing. The students also went off and drew some new stuff on their own which made me really pleased.

Next off we enter the digital realm with a demonstration of Adobe After Effects CS4. The program is used for special effects, animation and motion graphics. One strength of the computer is that it can manipulate and re-purpose artwork. Below is a video sample of some Dancing Bears done with one drawing that was first scanned in and  had it’s background removed in Photoshop ( then using the puppet tool in After Effects. Then there is a Mysterious Man walking and Spaceships done with the digital version of cut-out animation.

Many of the same effects can be done in other programs like Adobe Flash, but After Effects handles the bitmaps better and is a lot more powerful even with a bit more of a learning curve. I also love the manipulation of flat layers in 3D space to get a ‘multiplane’ effect.

This is the same way they do the Motion Comics, which was one of my inspirations for this class. Artwork being re-purposed for animation.

AFX character animation tests from Brian Kolm on Vimeo.

Last we needed to come up with a simple idea for a short piece of animation in which the students would draw the art which would be brought into the computer and manipulated creating a whole story. After the class agreed to some story elements, everyone sat down to work on some drawings of what characters would look like. The drawings were placed up on the board and assistant artist Chris Conroy and I combined ideas into final designs.

The final result was always planned to be more of a motion comic, but with the art being created specifically for animating. To speed things up I roughed out a simple storyboard and the students worked on making the art which was scanned after class and prepared to be structured into an animation. A big thank to Graham Wong for his help on Friday working in After Effects to animate the drawings and having some of the students assist him.

The voice of the Nanny Ninja is Heather Plunkett and the lip assignments were done in JLipSync, and older java script based program. It’s a bummer since it only uses 8bit mono .WAV files which are very outdated by today’s standards, but it did still get the job done.

The student really did an amazing  job of creating some fantastic art that helped tell our story. GOOD WORK GUYS!

Sadly time and technical difficulties have prevented the finished video to appear yet, but it will be finished up in the early part of July with the missing art and missing music, but a close to finished version is presented here as a Work in Progress.

Note: I also found a few drawings did not get scanned in the last rush to finish on Friday and so they will have to be replaced with something else. No art was left out except for that reason. A final version will be on-line in the next week or two with a few missing drawings, music and sound effects — but will look close to the video below.


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