Bristol Animation Course

In the summer of 2008 (so long ago now!) I spent 11 weeks happily messing around with Plasticine and puppets on the Bristol 3-Month Animation Course at UWE. They’ve tarted it up a bit since then, and now, of course, it would now give me 60 credits towards a Masters in Animation, which would have been handy. Mind you, it costs twice as much nowadays, so it’s swings and roundabouts I guess.

Anyway – although my friend Jessica blogged about the course at the time, I didn’t manage to. It’s a shame, so I’ve decided to write up the various exercises we did as a record of my time there. Click through on each week for the video and write-up. (You know, as I actually get around to posting them…)

Week 1

Objects. Use a few simple, rigid shapes and try to convey thought and/or emotion.

Week 2

Claymation. Dealing with the attributes of personality using manipulated clay, either on glass or in free space.

Week 3

Character animation. The expression of personality in repose. Two puppets were provided – a ‘professionally’ armatured foam latex puppet and a simple wood and wire puppet. We also had to create a clay character without an armature but incorporating an aluminium ‘spring’ so that two rhythms could be contrasted during the animation.

Week 4

Walk cycles. Create two different walks using the main puppet, thinking about internal movement (the relative motion of the character’s parts), external movement (the motion of the character through the space of the frame relative to the background), and the readability of the action.

Week 5

Four-limbed walk cycles. Use a wood and wire puppet four to deal with limbs hitting the ground in sequence.

Week 6

Size, speed and weight. Use the same main puppet to deal with two kinetic opposites; a very small, quick and lightweight character and a very large, slow and heavy character. Use visual references for scale combined with the tilt of the camera to help create the illusion of altered size.

Weeks 7 & 8

Limp objects/complex cuts. Storyboard, time and complete the animation of a sequence of action. The sequence should make use of changes of camera position from shot to shot and experiment with action cuts. It should also make use of a limp object, like a rope or a handkerchief.

Week 9

Lip synch. Animate the main puppet lip synching to a pre-recorded voice track.

Weeks 10 & 11

Edit. Edit completed sequences into a showreel and add a soundtrack.

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