Project:Animate! - 2016

Project:Animate! was a student organized class with the ambitious goal to create a CG animation from scratch to finish! The class was taught, organized and directed by Amr Kamel and me. At the end we suceeded to create a five minute long animation.

Tasks and Role

Art Direction
Animation
Storytelling

The idea for Project:Animate! originated out of frustration about the lack of proper animation classes at Bauhaus University. At this time classes were strong on how to develop a decent animation concept, but nobody took it ever to production. When Amr Kamel came to me with the idea of doing a project with the ambitious goal of having a finished CG animation at the end, I was instantly hooked. But we still needed a team to achieve our goals. The idea of holding a class for other students and working together on an animation was born.

We had luck. We pitched our plans to our Professor. We could hold an official class for students with the goal to teach Blender and create a full animated CG short movie. The class was received well by the other students and so we had a team of ten to seven hard working people.

At start everybody in the team pitched their own ideas. By voting we chose one concept and developed it further. As the class proceeded, we realized that our ambitions were a bit too high. In a crisis meeting the team broke the idea down and discussed a more realistic goal. The final storyboard derived. After that we worked hard on the concept art and building the animation set up by modelling and rigging the assets and the character. When the lecture-free time started, we were ready to animate. Well, we underestimated this phase of production a little bit and had to overextend our time schedule. But in the end, we presented our final animation in December 2016.

All in all Project:Animate! was not just a success with the result of a six minute CG animation. It was also a huge learning experience for all of us. This project is one of my favourite ones and it shaped me as an artist very much.

I learned how much effort it takes how to properly organize and manage a team. Also I witnessed the immense amount of work of creating an animation. Of course my skills in storyboarding and animation improved a lot by this project.

The Process

Art Direction and Management

The project was set up as a class for learning Blender. The goal of the class: Create a full animated short CG film and learn blender by doing. It was important to us not to waste much time on the theoretical part of learning Blender. We wanted to give an insight of the full production pipeline of creating an animation and to motivate our students by seeing that their learning results add to one big picture.

The class had one weekly meeting where we discussed the project. In these meetings every student pitched his ideas and current state of work such as concept art, models, texture or animation. Constantly we used the weekends to give workshops on Blender and other important subjects like storyboarding, character design (by Fabian Schmidt) and project file management (by Tristan Weis).

The whole project was organized by Amr Kamel and myself. We managed the team, split the work and taught most of the classes. This was quite unlikely for students to do but our instructor at university trusted us. We informed them on a regular bases on our process and presented the results to our professor and instructor in an intermediate presentation and a final one.

Storyboard

One major distribution of mine was to create the storyboard. As already mentioned everybody in the team pitched their ideas and the team developed them further. But we had to ditch our first ambitious goal in the process and to simplify our story. In a meeting with the team brainstormed a rough version of the final story.

Being inspired by this meeting I collected the various ideas of everybody and put them into one working storyline. I drew the storyboard in one week and pitched to the team. Now we finally had a story to work on and could proceed to next steps.

Animation

The other big part of work I did, was three minutes of animation. I love doing animations but this was my first time of animating a big project. So, it was quite a learning curve for me until I was satisfied with my results.

Animations by me:

  • Introduction scene in which the camera showreels the objects
  • Guy eating the pills and blowing up
  • Guy testing the sci-fi razor
  • Guy reaction the smart-watch
  • Guy taking the gun and blowing his head off

Additional work

As a student project it was obvious that students dropped out or failed to deliver work. Since it was a passion project for me, I deliberately filled these gaps. I overlooked the project management and corrected mistakes. Additionally, I did some modelling of not so important sci-fi gadgets, applied the textures and rigged them.

One major task was for me was to render the animation with the university’s resources. This kept me occupied for whole two weeks because we used the university´s computer pools. I had to come in each and pause the rendering because over the computers needed to be used for classes over the day.