Narrative Animation synchronised to sound is extensively used throughout multiple forms of media and popular culture, whether to promote an event or performance, open a film or show, or introduce a concept.

This project asks that we create complex narrative sequential animation using 2d, 3d software or a combination of the two. The sequence can mix live action and captured assets with kinetic typography and animated illustration, for example, time-lapse or stop frame photography, live action, recorded sound and so on.

Initial research

Types of animation and methods of production

Prior to starting this project I had no experience creating narrative animations. Being the case, an obvious first step is to explore possible methods of production. The following video provided a brief and well rounded introduction to potential routes.

Considering my technical abilities I have decided to progress with a combination of traditional cell animation and 2D digital compositing. I like the idea of relying heavy on drawing and developing a illustrative style — in contrast to my common practices — while making use of compositing programmes to work more efficiently within the giving timeframe.

Composition and shot choice

Throughout the development and creative stages of the project I will make many references to film techniques and shot compositions. Making references to film, should enable me to develop an animation whose narrative is emphasised by creative choice of shots. The following is a list of basic shot compositions:

  • Full Shot — A shot that shows an actor from head to toe; it may also be called a wide shot.
  • Cowboy or Western — A shot derived from the early westerns, the cowboy or western shot is one in which shows an actor from just above the knees to the top of the head. Its name comes from the fact that we want to see the holster hanging down from the gun belt.
  • Medium Shot — A shot which shows roughly half the actor’s body, from just above the waist to the top of the head.
  • Medium Close-up — As we get closer to the actor we want to start to see more detail. This shot shows them from approximately mid chest to the top of the head.
  • Close-up — This is a shot that shows a person from the top of the shoulders to the top of the head.
  • Extreme Close-up — This is a shot which shows a great amount of detail, such as the actor’s eyes, nose and mouth, but can be even closer if you wish.
  • Dutch Angle — A shot where the camera is tilted laterally so that it is not level with the horizon.
  • Establishing Shot — A long shot or full shot that gives the audience an initial representation of the location or setting of the scene.
  • High Angle — The camera is placed above the subject or object looking down at them
  • Insert — Usually a close-up of an object used to emphasise a particular point in the scene. It may be a shot of a key in a door, a clock on the wall, a gun being pulled out of a desk drawer, etc.
  • Low Angle — The opposite of the high angle in that the camera is placed below the subject or object, looking up at them.
  • OTS (Over-the-shoulder) — Usually when two actors are facing each other and the camera is placed behind one actor, looking over their shoulder towards the other.

Camera operator David E. Elkins describes a basic sequence might be along the lines of... 'Start with a wide shot of the entire scene and then move in for what is referred to as coverage for the remainder of the scene. Coverage can be defined as getting all of the various shots needed to tell the story. We have all watched television or been to the movies, so you know that as a scene progresses the camera gets closer to the actors so that you can see the emotion on their faces. You may then cut back to a wider shot or a medium wide shot and then back in to the close-up until you have everything needed for the scene. Each scene is going to be different based on the needs of the story and the artistic vision of the Director.'


Project contents

Research: Animation types and approach •
Research: Narrative animations
Research: Audio exploration
Research: Illustrative styles

Exploration: Sketches and storyboard
Exploration: Animatic
Exploration: Style sheets
Exploration: Character sheets
Exploration: Developed animatic

Creative: Developed style
Creative: Rough animation
Creative: Final animation