View Full Version : Help with 30 sec story

06 June 2004, 05:47 PM
any inputs and ideas for a 30 sec animated short film would be highly appreciated. i'm going wild as i can't find any nice story and the deadline is soon approaching. Guys, u have to help me.i'm counting on u all:thumbsup:

06 June 2004, 08:38 PM
Well, a story is sort of an abstract idea. Technically, food being digested is a story. Are you talking about one that revolves around one character? Multiple characters? Dialogue? Anything?

Get yourself Aesop's Fables. It will probably cost you less than $10 at any bookstore. I'm sure you are familiar with at least a few of them: Tortoise and the Hare, Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, The Boy who Cried Wolf, etc.

The stories all deal with a sort of moral--poetic justice in a way. Problems are resolved in ways that directly correlate with how they arise.

Just look at all the popular shorts. Pixar's "For the Birds" is in essence an updated Aesop's Fable, as is the "Pfffirate" short that has been recently plugged on this site.

30 seconds is kind of short, but I'm sure something's doable.

06 June 2004, 02:14 PM
Remember to add something that make the viewer interested at the first look. ^^

06 June 2004, 04:38 PM
For a short piece, the clever/funny genere almost always works out better. It would be much easier for us to help you if you gave us some sort of starting point. Do you have a style of character in mind? Or a particular topic you might want to explore? I would recommend carrying a small notebook and a pen with you whereever you go. Sometimes the inspiration for a great story can strike at the most inconvenient of times. (I once thought of a good story idea while in a job interview) If nothing else start with a character sketch and try and work up a bio on that character. Get a feel for who they are and what kind of things they would do. Then pick a situation and picture how that character would react to the situation. Keep trying situations until you come up with something that works for you.

Hope that helps a little :hmm:

06 June 2004, 04:44 PM
Thanks guys ,but i need something more than this. I was thinking of having a single character with some sci-fi or futuristic kind of look. To conclude something logical in 30 seconds is very difficult .any references to other sites or work done by somebody in the same genre would prove to be very helpul.

06 June 2004, 06:04 PM
I was thinking of having a single character with some sci-fi or futuristic kind of look.

When I used to teach at SCAD, it seemed like 1/3rd of my students wanted to do something futuristic and sci-fi like.

This has been done to death, and if you want to be a charater animator, it's not recommended, UNLESS you can pull it off and make it look like a Siggraph piece.


It's hard to generare appeal with sci-fi pieces, especially if you want to be an animator. People tend to focus so much on the character's outfit/bionic arm/tendrils/robotic chest plate that alot gets lost in the animation, and the audience tends not to focus on it. Unless you're going for a simple, cartoony sci-fi piece, such as Victor Navone's latest alien piece, I'd shy away from trying to do the next Blade Runner.

If you want to focus on animation, which I'm assuming you do, come up with a simple, simple, simple story. Make simple characters. Rig them well, and animate them with a focus on expressing the story well, and you'll be good.


Magnetic Robot
06 June 2004, 07:00 PM
You can't short change story. That is the only reason to animate anything in my opinion.

I took a class where I had to come up with a short story every week. Designed to be a 3 or 4 minute animation. One of the toughest classes I ever had. I had to storyboard 24 boards *only*. Which, believe it or not is really hard to widdle it down to that. It leaves you with the essense of the story. You wind up taking any epic idea you have and finding the really important "beat" boards.

I would breifly review Robert Mckee's book "story". And learn about the 1 act structure of a story. This is perfect for short animation. A build up, a resolution and a quick twist at the end. A lot of successful shorts have followed this format.

What I did to come up with story ideas was to take the idea I had, in its raw form. And then tell the story, even if it was a 3 hour epic. Then trying to put it only into a couple dozen storyboards, you realize what story points your really need. You wind up rewriting or changing things to fit it in. Then yourework the story and try to rework it again. If you started with an intergalactic battle between two planets with 700 ships who are fighting for the remaining natural resources, you might discover you really are trying to tell a story that is as simple as two kids who are fighting for the last cookie. Simplify and you might discover your message is stronger.

For a 30 second piece, you might want to limit yourself to say... 6 or 7 boards.

This is my opinion... if you limit yourself, you wind up coming up with the best stuff. Constrain yourself to a linear format and think about the resolution you want.

Coming up with story is the hardest thing in the world.
Good luck... hope that helped.

06 June 2004, 10:25 PM
Thank you Magnetic Robot to teach us what you know :thumbsup:


: If you really want to work on SCIFI universe, you can. Let's make a robot song involving well desgined SCIFI robots (no more than 2-3). Or you could do as adamfinger proposed : use an old story background to your SCIFI world (as a lot SCIFI author did)

06 June 2004, 05:20 PM
Thanks Guys!!!!!
But now i'm totally confused. One veteran says that sci-fi look is a way too common story to be told .My other friend says that it could work if told in a proper maner. God!!!!!!!!!!! what am i gonna do????????

09 September 2004, 03:40 AM
I'm no pro, but the future/space thing should be left for illustrators, who know how to design.


09 September 2004, 10:44 AM
The thing about these sort of shorts is that you always want to tell too much. You simply can't cramm a 1000-year epic in 30 seconds. In my case, when I have to do an animationof 30 seconds, I try to think of a story of about 20 seconds. Then I go act it out and time myself and then storyboard the thing.
The best thing you can do is tell a gag. Just look at small newspaper comics or other small comics for inspiration.
When you use a small, simple, yet very funny story(gag), you can concentrate on your narative and the actual animating.

Other things to consider are:
- each shot should be atleast 3 seconds long for people to understand it in the context of such a short film.
-Keep your character simple and easily recognisable. Again, people can't warm up to a complicated character in 30 seconds. People immediately have to know what the character is and what its mood is.
- Overact. Again, to make the narrative more clear in such a short time span.
- Use the traditional story set-up: introduction(harmony), 'problem' emerges, struggle, climax, changed harmony.

09 September 2004, 04:40 PM
great points there voodoo, especially the comic strips, i mean they tell a story in just 2 or 3 drawings.


09 September 2004, 10:49 PM
cgavataar: it sounds like this is some kind of school project? If so, then they probably want to see your storytelling skills, so coming to the forum with absolutely nothing other than "sci-fi" isn't going to show your school what your skills are? it will show them what some guys skills on cgtalk are, though, but how's that gonna help them help you? I'd say come up with somthing a lot more specific, and then ask for "extra" suggestions, but it sounds like you want us all to come up with something FOR you... again, if this isn't for school, then that's a whole other story...

p.s. i'm no pro, but sci-fi makes me want to curl up into a ball and die in a pool of my own urine, it's been done SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much...

09 September 2004, 11:35 PM

09 September 2004, 10:26 AM

I thought I'd post the first animation I ever did, which was a similar school assignment, but we had to do it in 13 seconds(every person in my class got 13 seconds of a song to work with). The theme was 'eating and drinking', in the broadest sense possible.
(4 MB, DivX5)

Now, this is by no means perfect, but it's just to give you an idea of how the narration can be set-up and how you can use music or sound to strenghten the animation.
I think it's clear after viewing the animation, that I still wanted to tell too much(and yes, the animation sucks, but that's beside the point). So... GO FOR A GAG!!!

BTW. (the actual animation, colouring, backgrounds and compositing were done in one week).

CGTalk Moderation
01 January 2006, 11:00 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.