Pre-Production for an Animated Film
If someone asked you to make an animated movie, the most obvious step to start at is developing a story. Look at any animated movie over the past 50 years. “The Lion King”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Toy Story” just to name a few included talking animals or inanimate objects that each had their own personality. “Up” featured an adventure involving talking dogs, a magical land, and a flying house! These things could not be achieved in live-action movies without some sort of modern visual effects and animation. Animation allows the imagination to truly come to life on the big screen.
The most common mistake I see when animators come up with a story idea is the plot is way too elaborate and long. It’s great to have an imagination and visualization of an epic storyline that involves tons of characters and multiple plot lines, but keep in mind the time frame allowed and the resources given. The phrase I keep in mind when writing stories is K.I.S.S., Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Luckily, RIT’s School of Film and Animation has great facilities when working on any project. Sophomore year, animation students are required to complete a 1 quarter film, which is 10 weeks long. Their junior year is a 2 quarter film, which is 20 weeks long. Finally, the senior year contains the senior thesis, which is, you guessed it, 30 weeks long to complete. This may seem like a reasonable amount of time to write a story and animate it, but if you were to look at the process required to complete a successful animated film, time management is a challenge in itself.
Pre-production for any film, animated or not, is the most important step. This is the process where you create a story, design the visual world that story will take place in, the characters who will interact in that environment, and the pace or timing of the film. Ignoring or skipping any of these aspects will lead into serious problems later on in production. Right now, I am in the process of drawing storyboards and timing each shot in an animatic, which is a visual interpretation of the order and length of each shot. Production for my film will not start until about week 6, after all of my pre-production is complete and approved.
My story is simple, as you may have guessed. A man tries to win a grand prize at a carnival by beating a High Striker game. A High Striker game, for those that may not know, is a game when the payer hits a giant mallet on a target, and a weight shoots up to ring a bell, depending how hard the target is hit. My character goes through some challenges to complete his goal, which will add to the appeal of the story. I will be using 3D animation, rather than 2D animation or stop-motion techniques. Compared to my 1 quarter film, which ran a length of 2 minutes 15 seconds made up of 12 shots, this film will run over 3 minutes with over 20 different shots. Time management will be a challenge, but with the proper planning and dedication, the film will e finished!
So hopefully I’ll not go crazy and at some point, will have some time to update my progress later on in the Fall quarter. Back to work!