Advanced Animation Studio — Syllabus

Advanced Animation Studio
ITP | Spring 2013

Animation is the magic of giving life to objects through motion. Whether through linear story-telling, or through interactive experiences when another sense of wonder is achieved.
This course is focused on basic and advanced animation techniques and principles, to further add character and expression, to animated objects.
The course is divided into four parts, covering the foundation principles of motion, visual storytelling, non-linear animation in the context of interactive and new media projects and introduction to the vastly diverse aesthetic approaches of motion graphics.
The main tool to be used is Adobe After Effects. You will be required to dedicate time for guided self study of After-Effects techniques and features, alongside demonstrations of selected technical subjects in class.
There are short weekly assignments to embed the concepts introduced in class, and two broader scope projects — a mid-term and a final project.

The class blog is at
The blog is for all of us to share links to learning resources and feature inspiring works of interest.. You are required to post to this blog, at least twice along the semester.

Grading is based on successful completion of all assignments, blogging, class participation and attendance.

Part 1 — Principles of motion

Class 01: Thursday, January 31

  • Introduction to the course
  • Intro to animation and moving picture art.
  • View: examples of different styles and techniques of motion, and animation across media.
  • Discussion — what is animation? keyframes and inbetweens — traditionally and in digital animation.
  • Demo: After-Effects — timeline, key-frames, keyframes interpolation, and graph editor.
  • Assignment: 5 sec animation. A single shape enters the screen and reveals a trait / attribute.
  • Reading: 12 principles of animation
  • Video tutorial: Animation techniques and keyframe interpolation (go through the first tutorial in the series if you need to review the basics of using AE)


Class 02: Thursday, February 7

  • Critique / review of the first assignment.
  • Discussion: Motion styles as expressive tools. The 12 principles of animation with examples from motion graphics. Ease-in, ease-out, reaction, anticipation.
  • Demo: After-Effects — deeper look at key-frames, as a concept and as tool. How are they utilized for the basic concepts of motion to express stretch and squash, anticipation, weight, acceleration, and materials. [Motion-path and bezier curves. Masks, shape layers, alpha matte layers].
  • Assignment: Bouncing ball / interaction between shapes — weight, density and personality
  • Reading:  12 principles of animation in motion graphics (3 parts)
  • Read: Keyframe interpolation in AE
  • Video tutorial: Masking and duplicating layers


Class 03: Thursday, February 14

Part 2 — visual storytelling

Class 04: Thursday, February 21

  • critique of machine assignment.
  • Intro to cinematic jargon — shots, cuts, camera positions, camera moves, transitions.
  • Pre-production processes: Concept design, style frames, layout design
  • Convey space and environment, depth of field, camera ‘lenses’, rack-focus, color-theme
  • Demo AE: 3D layers, cameras, perspective and parallax.
  • Assignment: pre production for mid-term project — synopsis and style frames.
  • Reading: Virtual cinematography in After Effects
  • Video tutorial: 3D in After Effects


Class 05: Thursday, February 28

  • Storyboard — intro to storyboard concepts and conventions. Different techniques to produce a storyboard.
  • Principles of composition, layout, perspective and staging.
  • AE demo: perspective and parallax, intro to using effects.
  • Assignment: progress with pre-production of mid term project — finalize a storyboard.
  • Reading: Creating depth in art and photography
  • Video tutorial: Pre-comps, and master comps


Class 06: Thursday, march 7

  • Critique: mid-term project storyboards.
  • Timing, motion and emotion — how can timing express emotions and ideas.
  • After-Effects — timeline, time-remapping, time warp. Frame-rate and timing in animation.
  • Understanding work with video footage, inside an animated project, ideas and methods for seamless composite of the two.
  • Mid-term project studio — discussion of work in progress (motion tests).
  • Video tutorial: Time remapping
  • Video tutorial: Rendering


Class 07: Thursday, March 14

  • Mid-term critique
  • Animation across media.

Part 3 — Non linear

Class 08: Thursday, March 28


Class 09: Thursday, April 4

  • Linear vs. generative — understanding the differences.
  • Algorithmic animation — more approaches.
  • Video tutorial: intro to expressions in After Effects
  • Interactive animation assignment — part II


Class 10: Thursday, April 11

  • The elements of interactive animation.
  • Relation and expectations with users.
  • Animated UI — essential aspect of user experience design.
  • Demo: code generated animation in Processing and in After-Effects, integration between the two.
  • Review and critique — interactive animation assignment.
  • Assignment: proposal for end-term project. Linear/non-linear. Style-frames, techniques and story/experience flow.


Part 4 — Aesthetic and visual approaches — intro to motion graphics

Class 11: Thursday, April 18

  • Intro to motion graphics — design and motion approaches — relevance to typical ITP projects, and to the non-linear/algorithmic context.
  • Type in motion — a look at the art of title sequences
  • Final project studio — review of students proposals, and workshop.
  • Video tutorial titles in After Effects
  • Tutorial: Keying and transparency in AE
  • Assignment: Full storyboard for final project.

 Class 12: Thursday, April 25

  • Motion graphics continued — intro to compositing as an art and a technique.
  • Compositing and special effects in AE — (weather, fire, abstract) particles systems and trapcode plugins.
  • Discussion — fantasy and realism — painted and photographic imagery collage
  • Critique: storyboards for final animation project (or other presentation for non-linear projects)
  • Tutorials: getting started with Trapcode Particular 1 (old), intro to Trapcode Particular 2 new features


Class 13: Thursday, May 2

  • Final project studio
  • Overview of experimental directions in animation / motion graphics


 Class 14: Thursday, May 9

  • Final projects review + critique.