The Making of David's Song the Production Process - Including the YouTube Video


So what's it take to start your animation? First, you're going to have to decide if you're going to do 3D or 2D animation. Let's say you're not sure, but you know you want to animate, but you don't know where to start. Then we start by picking up the pen and paper. Start with the tough part. Sketch out a few rough ideas, and get the creative wheels turning. My idea began with the concept artwork for Jonah.

Get Your Ideas Out of Your Head

Start drawing your ideas onto paper and get them out. If you have any places and background in your head sketch them out. Here are some of my initial sketches for the Jonah project that proceeded the David Psalm 23. Even with all my years of experience I was too ambitious and had to dial it back some. So as I produced all these production elements I had to dial it back to something shorter to boost as a pilot. So I sketched out everything for production artwork. I looked at the story, and I wrote a script and treatment for the production. Then I jumped into modeling and animation. However, even with all my years of experience, I had to go back to the drawing board and pick something that only I could do in a reasonable amount of time. That is how the Psalm 23 came to be.

Jonah and the Whale Jonah and the Whale


We'll assume you have a plot, a script, or at least a paragraph of a story you're going to animate to. The Storyboards I started with the storyboards and went to work. I planned out the whole animation from start to end based on the Bible passage. One thing you'll need to make sure you do is the timing of your script. Since the passage was short, it should be easy, right? Well, it's not, and here's why. You have to plan on shots that aren't mentioned. You have to create a flow and tell a visual story to keep people entertained. You can't say everything there is to know about the character to your audience, you have to show them most everything. Your dialog will help, but it can't carry the full brunt of the animation story. So you pick substantial shots that will help guide the audience visually to tell the story to them.

David Psalm 23 - Bible Bits Production David Psalm 23 - Bible Bits Production David Psalm 23 - Bible Bits Production Bible Bits Production

Plan your shots accordingly

The direction for each of your shots is critial to your porduction and the flow of your story. If you've never had to make things move across a stage then watch some television and watch how the story is shot. What shots did you notice? How did the characters enter and leave the shots? How did they stage the scene? These are all vital to how the shots will be composed and critical to how shots are produced.

Television and movies use mostly green screen to match their shots, however when they build a live set they don't build the entire set. They build only the angel they need to shoot from. This is why knowing your shots is so important, you don't have to waste your own resources and manpower building every single shot. Focus instead on the angle you plan to tell the story from.

Storyboard art direction Storyboard art direction

Backgrounds and thematic places

Go ahead and start drawing out places you think you might use, get the ideas out and see if the sketches work for you. If not, then you need to go back to the drawing board and ask yourself, "Is it the story or my artwork?" Maybe it's just not the time to start the story that you'd like to, maybe it's too ambitious, or maybe it's just too long for one person. Make something simple. The worst mistake I made when making my demo reel was making something that had no objective. It was a short one-minute animation of a man running, then doing a flip and trying to make it to the exit, then the dreaded words popup up, "To be Continued." Only it never was or ever will be. A dreadful mistake. You should have fun with your stories. Start with the backgrounds to give yourself a sense of the world you intend to create. When you look at the images for Jonah, you know I planned to have some fun and make references to modern day things, like the burger sultan. This was my way of having fun in the world I was creating.

Jonah and the Whale Bible Story Bacgrounds Jonah and the Whale Bible Story Bacgrounds Jonah and the Whale Bible Story Bacgrounds
Jonah and the Whale Bible Story Bacgrounds Jonah and the Whale Bible Story Bacgrounds Jonah and the Whale Bible Story Bacgrounds
Jonah and the Whale Bible Story Bacgrounds

If you have the patience and time and energy, make a flip book of one portion of it. I guarantee that by the time you've put that much energy into you will have decided one way or another. So you end up deciding for yourself. If you can't put the energy into doing a flip book, then doing an entire animation will escape you. You don't have to do this, and it just shows the dedication you will need to have. Plan out your story on paper as best you can, and give a clear idea how the story will go. The tools vary and there are some great ones, but set the tone for the story instead. I love telling stories and setting the scenes, and I have so many I want to tell in comic book form and others. I love the Bible stories, and there are so many I want to do that haven't been done yet. You don't always have to tell your story, but if you ever plan to market it, make sure it's public domain property. So get started with the simple idea of the background and story elements first.

2D VS. 3D

The best thing you can do is rough draft out in thumbnail the visuals to give an idea of how it should look. Once you've hammered out these details, you can continue the pipeline of production. 3D versus 2D animation So you can't decide what program to do, you're lost and don't know where to start? The best place to start is simple. I like to use Flash. Adobe is now very affordable, and it's easy to use Flash, After FX and Adobe Premiere to produce your videos. Motion graphics is where After Fx shines, that and compositing shots together. The important thing to think about is what will fit your story, and do you know enough to do it yourself. If you don't have 3D will take a long while to produce. If you do already know 3D, then you have a long road ahead. You still have to model, texture, rig the characters, light the scenes and produce all the artwork. You need the script, the sound effects, and the soundtrack provided. You can time everything without these elements. So the best thing you can do is get all your production material ready. In my upcoming session, I'll cover the process of taking your 2D concepts and turning them into 3d. Likewise, I'll show how you can also make them simple and put them in Flash.

The First Part of the Animation Production Process

The Treatment

The treatment is your gameplan and is a pre packeged writing sample of the entire plot, typically the step between scene cards (index cards) and the first draft of a screenplay for a motion picture, animation, television program, or radio play.

The Script

The script is a written document that you put together to provide a coherent story with dialog and sound cues. It's usually typed or written by hand and is essential to the plot, the characters, and the sotry arc of a three act structure, or a five act structure.

The concept art (Characters and Backgrounds)

Concept art are the illustrations that make up the backgrounds, characters, and elements of your animation or film. They play a vital role to establish the feeling and look of how your animation will play out. They are used in films, video games, animation, comic books, or other media before it is put into the final

The Storyboard

The storyboard is a sequence of illustrations or images for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence.