As 2017 draws to a close, I want to look back on one of the more exciting projects I completed this year. People often ask how I create my animation, and I’d like here to explain a bit of what goes into the process by looking at one rewarding project this year with, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The task was to create a series of six one-minute animated videos for the Children’s Museum’s Making + Learning initiative. Here’s one of the final videos, to give a sense of the result:
Making + Learning is a program to help libraries and museums to improve and expand their effective Makerspaces and related learning programs. It’s a collaborative project of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and includes a framework and companion resources. Part of the project is a suite of tools designed to facilitate discussion among museum and library team members about how to facilitate learning through making.
For each tool, Green Comma created a short animated video to explain the accompanying tool and how to use it. The videos are aimed at museum and library professionals, and have been shared both on the Making + Learning website as well as in a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC).
So what went into the creation of each video? Here’s a short breakdown of the steps:
1. Step One Script-writing
Since the videos would include a voiceover, Green Comma began by working with the Children’s Museum to write a script. We worked together to make the script as clear and concise as possible, and then read it aloud to see how it would sound in the one-minute time frame.
2. Next, the Storyboard:
When the script was finalized, we brainstormed with the client for ideas of visuals to accompany the script. With these ideas in mind, we drafted a storyboard, showing stills of each step of the proposed animation.
After discussing the storyboard and making necessary edits, I created elements to be used in the final animation. These elements include everything to appear on screen, from backgrounds to people to pictures of tools, etc. To make these, I used a combination of watercolor (for backgrounds), collages of photographs manipulated using Photoshop, and elements drawn using Adobe Illustrator.
3. Animation Process:
In the screenshot below, you can get a sense of what the actual animation process looks like in After Effects. Every element of the picture that will move independently is drawn individually and then goes on its own layer (ie. if there’s a hand, every joint of each finger would be a separate object on its own layer). In After Effects, the position, rotation, scale, and opacity of each layer can be manipulated to create movement. After completing the first few seconds of animation, I send it to the client for review before continuing.
4. Complete Animation:
After getting an okay on the sample animation, we complete the entire animation.
For this project, the Children’s Museum worked with Saturday Light Brigade to record voiceovers for each animation. After completing the visuals, I used Adobe Premier Pro to sync the voiceover to the animation.
For a finishing touch, we laid a soundtrack to play along with the animation as well as sound effects where necessary.
Thanks for following along with the animation process! If you’re an animator, how does your process compare? You can see all the videos at the Making + Learning website. And here’s another final video to leave you with:
Have a very happy New Year!