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Unread 01-25-2002, 12:25 AM
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Post How to develop your animation idea and keep your sanity too!

This all comes from working with team 168 and is a way of involving your whole team on the development of the animation, without getting on your nerves. Plus it will give you ideas that you yourself may have never thought of on your own or only in your animation group. And it sticks to the main focus of this years animation. Just make sure that you tell the rest of the team that this is the time to give ideas, and that once the animation starts, itís in your hands to make it reality.

Hereís what you need:

-100 of both lined index cards and plain white index cards.
-pencils, pens, or any other drawing medium you feel comfortable with.
-Corkboard and Pushpins or white/black board and magnets.
-Your whole team.

-a video camera(doesnt have to be of highest quality.
-a stereo and some fave CD's or cassettes or even the radio.

Now, with the whole team sitting in a room, go around and ask each member, teachers, students, and engineers included, what FIRST means to them. This can be everything from winning to learning to gray hairs and free food. Encourage everyone to be as silly or as normal as they wish. This is not yet a point to limit ideas. After you have everyone's meanings, these cards of meanings together create what FIRST means to your team.

How do you put them into your animation? Simple. All of these meanings put images into your head. Usually another word or phrase, or even a whole descriptive sentence or two worth. Pass the cards around the room from person to person asking what images they see when they read the cards. Write them down on a second set of cards as each image is said. When everyone is done, ask for any others that your team sees. Once again, encourage maximum creativity, no limits. This is where you can play music and such to bring out these images, whether you will use the music in your final animation or not. Music helps kill the ambiance of waiting and thinking.

Finally take those images and formulate a simple story around it. Remember, you only have 30 seconds to work in. Pull out as many stories as you can around core "meanings of FIRST" and the images people saw with them. From these stories create storyboards using the white cards to draw on, and the lined ones to write notes under each panel. My recommendation for this is to do either one per second or draw one card per shot/per action in that shot. Donít forget that these are only storyboards, they donít have to be exquisite pieces of art. And experiment with camera angles. When you are done with the storyboards, present them to your team and act them out for your team. Go with the one that gets the biggest response.

If you have access to a video camera, film each shot in your storyboard live, experimenting with camera angles again. Use people and objects to represent people and objects in your animation. It can be very crude, as you donít need the full robot, or costumes or exact props. Just go with representation and explain later. This makes a very good reference and allows you to see the pacing and layout of the animation. Use it to see what works and what doesnít, even if you have to get some help from people who are thespians at your school. Donít be afraid to ask for help from artists outside the team to do concept art. This helps with the process as well.

I hope this helps you all out some. The only thing I ask is that if it works, let me know. Or if it didnít, let me know. Iíd like to know why, as it's an experimental "Secret Weapon" that worked really well for 168, and I plan to write about it and (hopefully) do a presentation/workshop next kickoff. So if you chat with other teams who are having trouble, send em this link. It should clear a few things up on at least how to get started.

Good luck, and happy animating!

-Robby O
FIRSTanimators Moderator
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