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For the money ($50) Disney Animation Studio is a good deal. It is a
consumer-oriented program but a number of animators have recommended it to
us. The best feature is 'onion-skinning' which allows you to see your
previous four drawings as you work on the fifth. With the click of a button
you can run your animation to see how the movements are developing. If you
have a graphics card and a vcr you can out to video. The downside: it is
only for PC and they have no plans to release on MAC; you cannot import
scanned artwork to use as cels or backgrounds; if you don't use a drawing
tablet it will look like you have regressed to the scribbling stage.
If you have Photoshop and a MAC, score a free copy of GifBuilder at:
Gifbuilder allows you to put a series of PICT files into a sequential order
and 'play' them back as if they were in a little movie. It is designed for
creating web page animations, and I like it because it is quick. It is small
enough that I can have it and PS running at the same time. I'll work a PS
image for awhile, save a copy of it as a pict, then drag the desktop icon of
that pict to the GifBuilder construction window and run the sequence. Very
fast, and it allows your students immediate feedback on their progress. Even
if you don't do web design it is a good little program.
If you are already using Photoshop, you may also have the Kai's Power Tools
plug-in. The 'texture explorer' filter has a neat feature where you can
record multiple original textures merging in a time based format that will
continue until you tell it to stop or til you run out of RAM. The movie can
be saved as a Quicktime. After ten minutes of playing with the filter you'll
be ready to direct a Jimi Hendrix video.
If you are interested in stop-motion animation (ala Gumby, Nightmare before
Christmas) get Premiere, Adobe's video-editting software. With a graphics
card, you can hook a video camera to your computer and capture one frame at a
time. You can have the camera aimed at a miniature set and be moving
puppets, or set it on a copystand to shoot your drawings. The only
disadvantage is that most video cameras have an automatic iris which
determines the exposure. If something with a light value enters the center
of the frame, the camera will stop down, making the picture slightly darker.
When you playback you may get a film that looks like somebody is playing
with the dimmer switch in your scene. You really need a camera with a manual
If you get Premiere, you're cheating yourself if you don't get a sound
editting program. We use SoundEdit 16. We will draw the storyboards and
scan each into the computer. Each image is then imported into Premiere and
'stretched' to occupy a few seconds. Each student then records their voice
bits and soundfx in SoundEdit. Those clips are imported into Premiere's
audiotracks. From there it is just a matter of re-stretching the still
images and moving the audio around until the timing of everything looks and
sounds right. The 'animatic' becomes the blueprint for the rest of the work.
We break it down frame and frame and identify the beginning and ending
frames of each movement and syllable. As students finish their scenes, the
footage is digitized and inserted into the place in the story that was
occupied by the still scan ..... Even if you decide you don't have the
patience to animate a story, you can do some great video just by adding a
narrative track to your illustrations.
A good source for lessons is Tony White's "The Animator's Workbook" (ISBN
0-8230-0229-2). It offers step by step examples of the conventions of drawn
animation (exaggeration, weight, walking, timing, arcing movements, etc...).
The Walter Foster series has a pair of books by Preston Blair (ISBN
1-56010-084-2) that have good examples ..... especially for the breakdown of
various types of walks. Warner Bros Feature Animation has assembled a packet
"Curriculum Suggestions for Students and Educators" that can be obtained by
writing to them at: Warner Bros Feature Animation, 500 N. Brand Blvd. Suite
#1800, Glendale, CA 91203, Attn: Training Dept.
The Animation World Network website is a great source for info on current
events and the history of the medium. They also have an archive of
downloadable Quicktime clips that can be used as reference by your students.
Quicktime is a great tool for analyzing animation. You can frame-advance
forward or backward through a scene and watch what the artist has done.
Lastly, get a catalog from Cartoon Colour Co. in Culver City, CA ... they are
one of the few (perhaps only) companies that sells animation supplies. (800)
Orange County High School of the Arts
>>Need information on animation software and what is appropiate for the high
school level. At this time we have photoshop and freehand software that
we use for our Graphic Design course and would like to offer a new course
in Film/animation/Video. Information on animation software would be very
helpful and has anybody set up lessons for high school students. I need
direction in this area please help. Thanks
Columbus High School
Columbus Nebraska 68601
Tammie Tonniges, Teacher<<