As the 11 second club assignment was based on character animation and lip sync to a specified voice clip which

was not available till the 1'st of December I thought it would have been best to research the site and see what kind of animation other people had produced in previous competitions. During this time, I was being taught the theoretical aspect of how to use dopesheets within animation. When the animation clip was released I wasted no time in producing the dopesheets for each individual lip sync. I concentrated on the sound of what was said, or rather the noise in each frame rather than what was actually being said. Example of Dopesheet Page for the 11 second club:

11 Second Club Report& Evaluation By Alberto Montana

An example of a lip sync segment from the "why would I" section of the 11 second club sound clip. Once I had mapped out the sound clip through dopesheets I began to think about how the characters would move and interact with each other. For this particular assignment it was a personal goal for me to avoid using reference footage for the animation. This is because I have always used footage for poses in my animations and my fellow peers and tutors had pointed out that some of the movements within the animations I was producing had appeared rather dull and un exaggerated. For this reason I decided to see if I could draw and animate characters that came from my imagination alone. In order to do this I began to create quick thumbnail drawings of facial expressions and poses for each word of the sound clip. I listened to the sound clip over and over acting the sequence out.

Example of thumbnail drawings:

Sketchbook of facial expression and character designs working simultaneously.

The more I listened to the sound clip the more ideas for poses would come through and I eventually began to create an image of a character who was small and counter balanced with a bold and frightening personality while the other character would be tall and timid. As I was designing the characters and working on poses simultaneously they began to merge into a rough idea of a "sensei" and "student" character. Some more examples:

Here is an example of thumbnails focusing on the movement poses.

Finalised characters: Sensei:


After finishing the thumbnails of each word and uploading it to my blog I had a clear idea of how the characters were going to react and the timing of each pose in relation to the lip sync. I was concerned with getting the animation of the characters right and there for decided the situation or reason behind the accusation that the characters were arguing about would be left up to interpretation. I decided to begin with the process of storyboarding. I had not thought of a background at this point but it was more important for my work process to get the storyboards done and head towards the animatic. I referred back to my thumbnail sketches constantly through the development of the storyboard. The storyboard had been produced digitally using Adobe Photoshop. Example of the storyboard:

I worked on the storyboard focusing on each word as a panel. Above is for the "would I put" section of the sound clip.

Once I had completed the storyboard I cropped each individual panel one by one to use for the animatic. Getting the rough timing was what I aimed for with the animatic as well as to glance at the poses and see if they would be successful or not. Examples of cropped panels for the animatic:

"why" panel

"you" panel

After working on the storyboard and viewing it through he animatic I could visualise ideas of a background and started working through ideas of a Dojo.

Rough sketch of a background idea, deep perspective:

The teachers were in Bradford and I was planning the time it would take to animate 11 seconds in flash. In doing this I came to the conclusion that the earlier I started animating the rough line tests the more time I would have to work on the final animation. So I began working on the line tests without any critical observation from my teachers. I began working really rough with block figures and not worrying about facial expressions and adding detail and movement with in-betweens as the animation developed further. We had a lecture the following week about line tests and I was lucky enough to have worked in the way my tutor had advised the class to work.

Here are some images depicting the process of the line tests and how they developed into a finished piece: Line test 1: Block figures

Line test that focused on timing and blocked shapes of the figures. Line test 2: Eyes

I added a new layer, working with in-betweens to clear out the animation and then adding eyes to each character.

Line test 3: focusing on mouths and rough lip sync.

As you can see, I added the eyes after working on another layer over the previous one.

I was able at this stage to have a critical analysis of my work from my tutor who pointed out several problems with the animation. The major problem of the animation was focused with setting of the characters within the scene and the lack of a situation, which I had previously thought would have been appropriate to leave up to interpretation. After discussing it with my tutor I had realised that the 11 second club competition and its competitors thought up of situations to go with the sound file to make it obvious for the audiences perspective on what the characters were talking about. I realised that the animation would be clearer if I thought up of a situation. I thought up of an idea of the Sensei's drink being stolen by the student but when I came to implementing it in the animation it still didn't fit the sound clip.

If I were to have used this idea I would have had to animate a scene where the student would take the drink or drink it when the Sensei was away. Due to a lack of time merged with a lack of ideas I scrapped the new thought of having an object within the scene and left it up to interpretation, (which was my original plan) and explained to my tutor that my main focus was animating the characters with principles I had overlooked in the past such as weight and exaggeration. My tutor pointed out some of the volume and proportional problems the characters were having during the line test and advised me to concentrate on that. At this point I worked further on the background and started inking the animation and getting the final line art working. I changed the perspective of the background as the deep space took up way to much attention from the characters and decided to have a flat 1 point perspective. Final Background Design:

Drawn in flash with the line tool and filled with the brush tool.

Here is two more examples of the process of inking within flash exploring the difference of volume and proportion:

Example of volume change 1:

Example of volume change 2: As you can see, the student is extremely tall (in pink), and the sensei moves forward and backward. So I had to work out where the characters final pose and volume was and then ink, add the eyes and facial expressions afterwards.

Once all the frames had been inked I worked on another layer inputting colour.

Once I finished the animation, I handed in the wrong version into moodle, as I was working on several different save files but I was eventually able to hand in the original file to my tutor.

Overall I feel the process of character animation has taught me allot about the common animation principles. I am quite happy with the result as I used no reference for poses or anatomy for the characters. If I could go back and change the animation I would have added more of a silhouette as my tutor advised to make the poses more interesting. The colour work for the animation was rushed as I had to do it within a time constraint and if I had the time I would have made a better job of it. I have learned the importance of planning the work before animating as well as the emphasis of exaggeration within the poses. If you would like to see more expression and pose thumbnails, storyboard and dope sheets or watch the line art tests they are available at my blog under the label 11 second club. The direct link is here: