Animated Short Research

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, January 31, 2011
As I've decided to produce an animated short (From my storyboards as of now, I think it will be roughly a minute and a half long) I need to completely understand what makes a character-driven short successful. I've been reading through the following book, that was listed on the brief:

My aim for this transcription project is character animation, even though there will need to be a lot of effort put into the environments, the real focus will be on bringing an inanimate object to life in a believable way. I have been applying the advice and tips from this book to my piece. Below are some of the notes and connections I've made.


The book states "A good character is one that is both believable and memorable."

"..A believable character is an ordinary character (in relation to the world that he lives in) who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances and reacts to those circumstances truthfully." 

This sentence is more-or-less my ambition for the next 10 weeks - to make the ordinary, inanimate suitcase character believably move and react to the environment and circumstance (The train moving away, leaving him deserted) The second-half of the point, is also crucial:

"A memorable character is visually appealing and has the ability to move an audience emotionally
through the events of the story."

Going back to character design, I need to really convey the object as being alive and give him a personality, which is a real challenge. The emotional side is an even bigger step, if I successful, the audience will be relating to the suitcase's struggle and will be able to tell what he is thinking.

As well as the protagonist, there is also the love-interest / companion suitcase, which although will not be focused on as much, will still need  believable movement and personality.


" A landscape is never just a landscape... The location, and the objects in it, is specific to the character and the story. They give the audience many visual cues that provide instantaneous information about the character, the back story, and the situation."

As this passage from the book shows, the environment is also going to take a lot of thought. My current idea is to make the waiting room as worn-down, rusty and undesirable as possible, giving the cue that the suitcase really doesn't want to be left there. When the story moves onto the platform, I want to give the station a very deserted feel, putting across it's isolation and the fact that it is in the middle of the desert. The environment is going to be a huge factor in portraying the situation.

Below is a plot-character sheet from the book. I have tried to apply the formula of a short to my own story, which I think so far is successful.

Next Steps
My first storyboard draft is about half-way complete. Once this is finished I will go over it, working out timings and placement and improve it until I'm happy. I'll then begin working on an animatic, seeing if the timing works with the music (Which is the main story focus) The whole storyboard is working around the pace of the music.

I'm also planning on creating some environment layouts, which have been recommended by the book, an example is here:

It is going to be a busy week of pre-production and time is of the essence. I'm hoping to have my story polished as soon as possible, so I can start some art direction.

1 Response to 'Animated Short Research'

  1. tutorphil said...'> 1 February 2011 at 12:47

    buster keaton
    the keystone kops
    harold lloyd
    the perils of pauline


Post a Comment

About Me

My photo
I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

Search This Blog


Blog Archive