View Full Version : short animated story format

02 February 2005, 03:51 AM

I am a student at VFS in 2d animation. I need write a story for my final project. I was wondering if someone had some advice. Its due in a month. I pressing on the matter.

I started reading by the Writers Journey. I read the chapter on the heros journey. It was interesting. I thought it was a good start.

I am still worried if my story will keep its "integraty" after the storyboarding and production. I think what also important, is to have a good sense of timing.

Animation has limitation.

I can't tackle a difficult project.

I want to produce a short film of 1 minute of lenght. Character driven, maybe 2, and one location. I would like to show strong emotion thru posing and good acting.

I am being influence by children book like "Where are the wild things?", "Stinky Cheese", some others. The characters will be simple, simple shape. I am looking at alot of old Disney classics like Jungle book, Rescuers, Robin Hood, Sword in the stone.

Anybody has experience producing or writting short films?

Thx in advance,

02 February 2005, 03:46 PM
You're doing a very short piece, so it's not going to have the elements of a "hero's journey" type plot. It's a moment in time rather than an epic. You find the same thing with short stories versus novels: novels have all sorts of room to spread out and deal with multiple characters, different locations etc. A short story is more constrained to obey Aristotle's unities--unity of time, place, and character. For what you're looking at doing, therefore, it's one or two characters, one place, one scene.

That being the case, the structure you're looking at is nothing at all like the "hero's journey"--you're looking at a structure similar to that of jokes instead. For example, take Pixar's "lamp" short, the one with the baby lamp playing with a rubber ball until it jumps on it and squashes it. One setting, two characters (baby and mama, or was there a mama I can't remember), one action (playing) and--most imortantly--a punchline (the ball squashed, the lamp looks out at the audience).

It's important to understand that you can have the structure of a joke, without being in the least humorous. Your story can be tragic or ironic, that aspect is independent of the structural type. I think the shortest story I ever sold was about 500 words; it was called "Ball of Blood" and was horror fiction.

A way to approach this is to look for what kind of singular, evocative emotion you might be able to express with the tools and models you've got. The structure would be: introduce character/setting-->show character's purpose or aspiration (what's he trying to do?)-->show him try and fail-->show him try and suceed or try and fail, The End. All in one minute. It's the try/fail sequence capped off with a punchline-type success or failure that communicates your emotion, by making the viewer identify with the character, invest in what they're doing, then feel for them when they succeed or fail.

Simple--but you don't want to do much more in such a short format.

02 February 2005, 09:21 PM
Write some jokes and tell them.

Get into the habit of recognizing funny. It can be a little painful when they don't fly. Here's a site with a lot of good info, to get some safe anonymous feedback:

Although playwrighting and joke-telling are different, it couldn't hurt.

You can tell a visual joke in 2 seconds, but most of us need 20 seconds to set everything up.

As an example: a rube goldberg "organic ___________" thing might be get-able in 2 seconds.

The Simpsons is solid 10 second jokes, but they don't seem to try for the "toppers" -- the extra hit on the same joke set-up. Something you might want to aim for. (That said, they have hundreds of hidden jokes... they're actually documented on the web but I don't have the link handy.)

If you make it something that uplifts the audience, convincing us god exists or incompetence or cruelty doesn't, and keep it relevant -- I find these films are easier to finish. If you can create a story with a beginning, middle and end, even better. As an example of something that didn't seem to have either, I animated a camera panning a building as seen through some fog, which seemed to ascend into the sky at the end. Technically, it had all three, but I wasn't given credit for it. They said it was "a test."

Seconding the other poster, having more characters also seems to set-up beginning, middle and end, because they have a relationship from the first frame. At least two.

02 February 2005, 12:00 AM
Are you dangling a participle,Vancouver?

Is your story due in a month, or the finished film?

I suppose if the character is wearing a ski-mask inside a car, that that could affect the posing of animation, but are we talking about a finished film or a script due in one month?

Making a one minute film in a month is do-able, by the way.

02 February 2005, 04:36 AM
If your story is due in a month, that's OK. But if the whole thing is due... then "I would like to show strong emotion thru posing and good acting" is really funny.

Hm... what's "strong emotion" for you, I'd ask first. And what's "good acting"? Is it something required in class?... I guess it is - and it's the funniest thing possible.

("There were a lot of long words in there" laddie... - to paraphrase a certain pirate in a certain movie...)

Watching lots of old Disney might help... but not a lot. Are you trying to animate in that style? Do you have some experience in making animated shorts? If you do, you're safe. If not... I'd try something more modest. Just think that a Pixar animator comes up with 3 seconds of animation a week - and that considering the level and experience, and the fact that the rig is already done and the story is very clear and there's a whole team (including a brilliant director usually :) ) working on character development and all that jazz.

I don't want to be rude and I appologise if I was, and I don't want to discourage you. Actually, I'd like to encourage you - to be realistic, and do something that you really feel like you can do. You'll need a lot of planning, so 1 minute of good animation... hm...
anyway, another good old quote: "failing to plan is planning to fail". So get going!

(I'd rather make 10 seconds of good animation, if possible, and make sure you have a character that shows your tallent and all, not the simplest shape around)

although, and again these are not my words (but I subscribe) - if you can animate a bouncing ball like cameron miyasaki...
(see the bouncing balls here:

ok, a last thing - great poses can really make very good film, even when the animation is quite cheap. but don't let the computer inbetween too much - it'll break those great poses. (better use stills - not good, but less yucky than spline-ish, floaty animation)

CGTalk Moderation
02 February 2006, 05:00 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.