How-to: My First Official (Uber) Short Animation Film


Typing that title was a real laugh-out-loud moment.  The short film is sooo short it didn’t even hit the 1-minute mark.  The main character is someone that you might have met in my blog before: Joyful, my green dog.  He is my band’s, He Sang She Sang‘s, mascot and “dogager”.  In the film, we define what DOGAGER means.  Watch it to find out.

Would it surprise you to know that this 53-second film took me 3 weeks to make?  It was a laborious project and, it being my first real foray into animation WITH music, I experimented a lot and wasted many hours of work on drawings and slides that I didn’t need in the end.  I also spent some time getting to know the Windows Movie Maker.  Fortunately, Bronne knew how to edit music and had the software to do it, so that was one less thing for me to worry about.

I didn’t read up on how to make animation and, as in the many things I do, learned by doing.  The missteps and mistakes were essential in learning.  And despite the tired eyes and hands, headaches and sleepless nights, I enjoyed every minute of it.

Just in case you are thinking of creating your own short animation film, here are the steps I chose to take (I’m sure the folks at Pixar would have a better way of doing things, though):

  1. Brainstorm on a story line with the characters, plot, music, etc.  I guess the trained folks would have a story board and if my story were longer, I would have made one, too.
  2. Edit your chosen music/sound effect to your desired length.  The amount of work you do will depend upon this.
  3. Draw your characters.  In this case, I consider the dancing flowers, sun, and clouds as supporting characters to Joyful.  I drew them and their different poses and facial expressions using a combination of MS Paint and Photoshop on white background to make cutting and pasting easier.
  4. Draw your background. Mine was the sky and the green hilly ground.
  5. Create your ‘slides’ or ‘panels’ by cutting-and-pasting your characters onto the background. Each slide would feature 1 pose or facial expression.
  6. Color.
  7. Enhance your slides with artistic effects on Photoshop or Corel Draw.  Some people skip this because they like the raw look.  I just enhanced the color and put some effects to make the slides look more “story-book” seamless.
  8. Upload your slides and music to your animation/film software.  I chose the Windows Movie Maker because it’s FREE!!!  Plus, artist, Josh Latta, told me that was a good software for beginner animators.  Windows Movie Maker is pretty easy to use.  You’ll have fun experimenting with its different effects.
  9. Edit.  Take care in coordinating the music with your slides.
  10. Save.
  11. Upload on YouTube.
Hopefully, all the things I learned from doing this uber short film will aid me when we start our next project: making a video for one of our original songs.  The song is definitely more than 1 minute.  In fact, it’s one of our longest songs.   So, if all goes well, that one will probably be unveiled in about … oh, maybe 3 years!  Hahaha!

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