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10 Second (Character Performance) Animation


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How long should your next animated story be?

 

You can tell more than a few stories in 10 seconds or less...

 

 

So before you invest in your next story as a 90 minute epic animated feature film perhaps you may want to tell one a bit shorter... more economically...

 

...perhaps even in 10 seconds or less.

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Animation aside... it's somewhat thrilling to think that stories can be told in such a short time frame... and (rather importantly) without dialogue.

 

Ten seconds doesn't give you time for anything that isn't essential to the telling.

And yet the format scales to other time frames quite well.

 

1. Introduction/Setup

2. Presentation/Action

3. Conclusion/Reaction

 

Now... there are some economical factors to consider.

In the above 10 second short there is no background whatsoever. This serves several goals:

 

1. Support the primary focus. (There is nothing in the blank space of the background to distract the audiences attention)

2. Enhance the primary focus (the negative shape created by the white background emphasizes the foreground/primary space)

3. Clarify the primary focus. (the color white further de-emphasizes the importance of the background area)

 

Now, with no distractions you are free to present the action/activity.

 

Note that just because there is a white background that doesn't mean the environment isn't there.

In this short the characters are grounded via their shadows onto the white background (a background that isn't really there)

 

A danger in creating short stories is that often they can require just as many assets be built as their longer form story would require.

For instance, a tale told in 'the burning mountains of Abyyss' where lava flows and smoke rises and thunderous poundings of the ancient dwarves are heard.

The tale may only take 10 seconds but that mountain and the effects would also have to appear *unless* set asides for the moment.

It might be enough to hint at the environment with color and shade rather than unnecessary detail.

An exception to this might be where the desire is to have the audience rewatch the short over and over again looking for new and interesting details.

But even there the detail shouldn't detract from the primary reading of the story but should compliment it is useful ways.

 

It should be noted that in this particular short there is significant 'slight of hand'.

The boy doesn't tie the balloon. Neither does Baymax.

This activity is suggested by plausible movement and repetition.

 

And there are very definite key poses that must be struck in order to tell this tale.

 

Presentation: Objects that look like a balloon are held out in perfect silhouette. (caveat: if the shape of the object does not immediately register as 'balloon' to the audiene that definition will soon be demonstrated... and a potential deficit transformed into a benefit)

 

Repetition: The telling of a joke is often improved through repetition... but the telling of the joke even more greatly enhanced through the use of variation on repetition.

 

Unexpected Outcome: The 'Aha Moment' often occurs when someone can say, "I should have seen that one coming."

This is often set up by establishing a rule and then deviating from that rule. In this case the anticipatory element is the expected repetition. The implication being "I'll demonstrate first... then you follow my lead."

 

Physicality: A good story considers the physical structure of environment/character/personality. Is it heavy or light, hard or soft, hot or cold, happy or sad, etc.?

If a character is made out of pliable plastic... so much the better. Now we can exploit the difference to provide a contrast between characters.

 

General principle: It is probably not wise to build all the sets required for a 90 minute film to complete a 10 second animation. It may be sufficient to simply hint at them or do away with them altogether.

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i have no intention, nor the strength or mental capacity to contemplate producing something in access of 15 minutes.

 

 

How much time is that in dog years?

 

15 minutes is an eternity in animation.

Someone break out your calculator.. how many 10 second tales could be told in 15 minutes...

 

And there's the thing.

What is a 15 minute tale if it isn't just a series of shorter 'takes' strung together in a plausible sequence.

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i have no intention, nor the strength or mental capacity to contemplate producing something in access of 15 minutes.

 

 

How much time is that in dog years?

 

15 minutes is an eternity in animation.

Someone break out your calculator.. how many 10 second tales could be told in 15 minutes...

 

And there's the thing.

What is a 15 minute tale if it isn't just a series of shorter 'takes' strung together in a plausible sequence.

 

 

Any movie/animation can be broken down in that way. But can they be done to stand on their own two feet and still tell a story. The animations i grew up with are really a series of separate bits, strong together as you suggest. Wile Coyote comes to mind. Each part of the 5 minute short could be shown on its own, and you get the story; poor Wile is going hungry yet again.

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Here's a follow up... Hiro's re-introduction to Baymax:

 

 

This one runs about 2 minutes and makes for a great little piece to study.

Of interest:

 

The elements of timing related to pace.

 

Note that Baymax's pace is slow and treated as (literally) monotone (with occasional points/beats of emphasis).

The primary change to his pacing is where he receives external feedback (which sends him into a programmed response... repeatedly)

 

Hiro's pacing is considerably faster (with a subsequently faster cycle of action/reaction)

 

Where Baymax is seen to be highly predicable Hiro is equally unpredictable.

And yet... very interestingly... in this short clip they are both seen to deal with the same issue of being confined in a very small space.

 

There is considerably more than that layered into the mix but... yeah.... the pacing...

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