This term one of the courses I am teaching is Character Design 1. This is a second year course and their first time to apply the design and animation principles into a character. The aim is to develop a design for a character into a fixed design 'bible'. Then to do some test animation to model, and to make a maquette in clay to explore the transition of design from 2 to 3D.
Alongside teaching the course I will be designing and developing characters that were inspired during a workshop with John Andrews, producer of 'Beavis and Butthead' amongst other claims to fame at the Thai US Creative Partnership Seminar and Workshop in Bangkok in August.
Some key points and advise that John gave about pitching projects:
- Length of film: Keep it short BUT long enough to tell a good story; keep it to the essentials; 2-4 mins
- Ask yourself "Why is it too long?"
- Practice good editing
- ASK "Who is the audience" and "How much time do you think their time is worth"
- Time management: COMPROMISE your GOALS in order to COMPLETE!!
- How much money do you spend to make it: and DONT GO INTO DEBT to friends/loans that you cannot afford to return
- Make appropriate to AMBITION (what do you want from this?)
- WHY IS IT ANIMATED?
- character vs character
- character vs obstacle
- How does the character achieve their goal(s)?
- What obstacles do they encounter - a gradual progression of increased dramatic (im)possibilities
- Twists and unexpected events
- What are the stakes? - Universal themes: Love, Fear, Hunger, Shelter, Lust, Vanity etc
- is it a reoccuring cast of charcaters
- is it a repeating scenario
- is there one main character?
- buddy story (one usually dominates)
- team characters
- is it the same cast in different scenarios
- is it changing cast in same scenario
- is it changing cast in different scenarios
- Is it serialised or is each episode free standing
- Is it comedy, daram, dramedy, action, serious action, comedy action, horror etc
- animals can talk to humans
- animals cannot talk to humans
- kids cannot talk to adults
- kids can talk to adults
- no one talks
- human style; animal style; or human and animal; alien
- are designs realistic proportions?
- stylised proportions
- changeable (eg Ren and Stimpy)
- what is the style of the actions: exaggerated; stretch and squash; subtle; understated; etc
What does it SOUND like? The voices? The ambience?
Know your story and know your background/ back story
Prepare possible compromise - sometimes you cannot sell the fuller pitch whole idea/story/series
eg 1/2 hour series of full cast has to become a 2 minute set piece within a larger program. So even if whole story isn't shown the details inform the story when it is shortened. So KNOW the detail don't always TELL. The details inform the action, reaction and settings.
Target Audience (Understand TV networks):
- pre-school 1-4 years - warm loving gentle humour - simple stories learning about life; friendship;helping;overcoming shyness; manners; community; how to ...;not always language dependent
- 2-8 years Early learning
- 6-11years Primary school
- 11-13 early high school/middle school
- 12-16 teen
- aspirational teen
- teen late night
- prime time family
- prime time adult
- adult edgy
- adult late night
- Cartoon Network - crazy comedy, outrageous characters, cartoon worlds, fantasy worlds, wild comedy
- DISNEY targeting more boys: action adventure, crazy silliness, noisy fun, mysteries,
- DISNET XD targetting more girls: princesses, tinkerbell, gossip
- Nickelodeon - kids POV: warm relationships who believe in themselves; goofy charcaters; villans block goals BUT do NOT destroy
- CBS programmes are linked to fit teaching curriculum
- SPROUT - very young kids and mums, teaching simple lessons: danger, ojects, orientation, how to..., what is..., identification,
- THE HUB - linked to Hasbro Toys - so series all have linked merchandising
These use Human stereotypes and tell about the Universal themes/ universal conditions/ universla politics. the characters reveal human foibles and failings. the story angles reflect and develop with ideology and universal themes prevalent in the society.
Then as as part of the workshop day we were invited to do an exercise to come up with some designs ourselves:
My designs were based on my dogs Dikdika dn Lil Mo whom I had left that morning in their customary security positions like this...
Here are my initial designs:
most of their mysteries start with a bump, squeek, scratch, snort, sniff, cough, laugh, crunch, splosh opr burp from THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE!
This is the start of their story.