A Short Animation (concept)

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  09 September 2005
A Short Animation (concept)

This is a short animation that I attempted to create years ago, but lacked the know-how. I've been working hard with max since then, and feel I have the tools now to give it another shot. This is the idea I have come up with. I want the animation to be short....3-5 minutes tops. I have no time constraints, I want to take as long as I need to do this right, when I'm done I hope to have a nice piece to add to my portfolio. So anyway, here is the story, please let me know what you think, and if you have comments/suggestions! Thanks!

Short Animation "Title Pending"
Stevie Milligan


Jones The Pirate - Jones is a middle aged man. He works as a janitor at a local highschool, his life is dull and uneventful. Jones` only fun is at night after all the school children have left, he puts on his favorite music and sweeps the floor, dancing and skipping around.

Story Synopsis:

Every human being is full of goals, wishes, dreams, creativity. Whether they are an aspiring actor, or in our case, an old janitor. Jones is looked down upon by absolutely everybody. His job is mundane, and he is expected to go about it in a similar manner. At night, Jones dances and bebops around with his broom whilst cleaning. It makes him feel young again, a time for him to release. One particular night as he is going about his cleaning, the intercom buzzes in and reminds Jones that he is a janitor, and this "fun" is not what he is being paid for. Reluctantly, Jones goes back to sweeping in a dull and boring fashion. A light catches his eye in the otherwise dim hallway. Someone has left the door to the theater storage closet open, light is pouring from it. Jones makes his way to the closet to turn off the light and close the door. There in the middle of the room is a chest, a pirate's chest. Jones looks at the chest and "hrmph's", shuts the light. A second later the light comes back on, Jones looks around to be sure he is alone and slowly enters the closet, approaching the chest. He very carefully opens the chest, and his eyes grow wide. Inside is a pirate hat, a sword, and a couple other odds and ends. Jones, with life and wonder sparked inside, dons the pirate's hat and grabs the sword.

Jones is cast into a daydream, where he finds himself living the life of adventure he has always longed for. He finds himself aboard a ship, he is overjoyed, amazed, awestruck...all of which comes to an abrupt halt when the first cannonball hits his ship. Startled, Jones looks peers out to see that he is under attack from an enemy vessel! Jones stands tall and barks orders to people who simply are not there. Jones immediately mans the nearest cannon, setting it off and scurrying to the next. Looking out to the enemy ship he can see their smiling faces, standing at the ready to attack him and his men. Jones ducks an incoming cannonball as his ship pulls up alongside the enemy. He places his sword in his teeth and gives the order to board the enemy ship. Running and jumping, he lands on the enemy deck in front of one of the pirates. He immediately cuts him down, not noticing that the pirate is in fact, a cardboard cutout, now lying crumpled on the floor, he moves to the next, slicing through him like a hot knife through butter. Through the haze of battle, Jones spots the enemy captain, standing proudly on the bridge. Jones, dead set on his fate, makes his way towards the captain, cutting down cardboard men as he goes. He approaches the captain, motions towards him that he himself holds this captain's fate in his hands. The captain...stands still, showing no emotion...as he IS cardboard mind you. Jones takes this as an insult and raises his sword to put a stop to his ruthless enemy. It is at this moment that a cannon ball hits the mast and the sail falls down, covering both Jones and the enemy captain. The screen grows dark and the dust of battle settles.

Jones is struggling underneath the sail, trying to get free. He eventually pokes his head out, ready for a fight, and looks around to find himself back in the storage closet, sword in hand, yet in his janitor garb. The storage closet is an absolute disaster, cardboard pirates strewn about, along with general clutter. Jones pulls the sail down, uncovering the enemy captain, which is no very obviously a cardboard cutout as well. Jones, a bit confused, slowly stands up, removes the pirate hat, places it and the sword back into the chest, and begrudgingly goes back to the hallway and grabs his broom, just as the intercom beeps again, with the voice telling Jones to be sure to lock up before he leaves for the night....

(note: There will be NO speech in this short animation, save the voice coming through the intercom)
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
  09 September 2005
I dont know I kind of dont like. It looks like kind of sad. And it looks like a loot of work in the pirate thing, try to keep it simple, maybe his dream is to dance.And After he is told to dont dance while he sweeps, he show his tong to the voice, and keeps doing what he does. One day he doesnt see that a basket ball game is about to start (he is cleaning the Gym) and he start to dance, sudenly the lights turn on an when he sees that instead of be ashamed he keeps dancing and everybody likes it. when he finish his spectacular and funny dance, every body is dancing in the same way. and that is the end of the short. Just a tought. I hope been of any help.
  09 September 2005
I really appreciate your reply! It sounds to me though that your idea would entail much more work than the one I proposed. A basketball game? A crowd of people dancing? I think I am obviously partial to my idea, and quite set on doing either it, or something very similar. Jones is actually the only real character in the animation, as the pirates are all flat cutout shapes. As I said however, I appreciate the time you took to reply!

This will be my first animation beyond a "test" as well, I am expecting it to take months and months, as it will be a learning process.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
  09 September 2005
Hi Cabot,

I like the idea of using this story as the basis for an animation and I think it would work well, but I'd cut out the part about Jones dancing around while working and listening to music. Reading this part, I expected the character to be "transformed" into some sort of fantastic dance scenario. Instead, he is transformed into a pirate scenario, which I find confusing (and is probably what danielkenobi is hinting at).

I'd either make it into a scenario where Jones could escape through dancing, or remove that part entirely and concentrate on the pirate scene.

I really like the idea of him fighting cardboard characters too. It could look awesome!


  09 September 2005

ahhh I see now. I guess I didn't quite get the point of the previous post. Yes yes, I could cut that scene out. I think I was just trying to look for some way to convey the fact that there is more to Jones than simply pushing a broom.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
  09 September 2005

Your hero could just as easily be miming some great battle as dancing around. Maybe he wears his dustpan at his waist like a sword? It shouldn't be too hard to convey that the Janitor has higher aspirations than just sweeping floors.

However, kenobi did make another point that I think is valid - that it seems a little sad. From a storytelling point of view, we expect to see that the hero has grown somehow from the events we're watching. If he just has this fantasy and then returns to business-as-usual, it's very easy to watch it and think "so what? What difference did that make?"

My feeling is that if he's going to imagine himself in the world of pirates, then it ought to be a complete fantasy - he should have a crew and his enemies shouldn't be cardboard. Also, there needs to be some kind of connection between the fantasy and the real world - maybe the enemy captain looks (or sounds) like his boss? Without something to tie all the elements of the story together, it's not really a story.

Just my 2.
  09 September 2005
Pconsidine, thanks for your reply. I like the idea of mimicing a great battle, as that makes so much more sense

Although the story idea does seem sad, that's how I wanted it to be. It makes me wonder sometimes when I see people working their mundane jobs, seeming miserable all the time, what goes on in their heads. What are their dreams and goals and what are their interests. So the point of my story is not to have a happily ever after, but to show that every human being, no matter what they may appear to be on the outside, can have very active, very creative minds. Yet their profession may not let them express it. I think this gets shown very well with the short lived fantasy, ending in a reluctant return to the broom. I am NOT a professionaly story teller, I have not done much beyond the creative writing course I took in college. So I am trying to take yours and others advice, but I am naturally attatched to the little idea I have brewing in my mind. I don't mean to be disrespectful. Maybe there is a way that I can get my point across in more story friendly fashion.

The reason I choose the cardboard pirates, is that Jone's fantasy is taking place in the theater's storage closet, he is interacting with objects from the closet, unknowingly to him. That is what ties his fantasy into his real world. The other driving factor behind that, is that I am doing this completetly on my own. It will be my first really big project, and I don't want to bite off more than I can chew. I would like to keep it as simple as possible, and do it very very well!

I just re-read your post, and I do agree with you now, that there needs to be something more to tie the two together, and Jones should come out a changed man, if even very very slightly. I'm not sure what the best way to do this would be. Maybe as the fantasy is nearing a close, the sounds of cannon fire will become the sounds of slamming lockers, bringing Jones back to reality, as he walks out from the closet into the hallway...picks up his broom to resume sweeping....stops...throws his janitor hat and nametag to the floor, then clutching his broom handle like a sword, swashbuckles his way down the hallway fighting an invisible foe. Leading on that Jones has in fact quit his job, and is moving out to realize his dream?
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
  09 September 2005
or maybe you can trick the audience to make them think he was a worker but he really was an actor, I mean after all the story he vows and we hear aplauses. But it definetly should improve his condition during the short
  09 September 2005
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