Animation Toolworks



Syllabus for
The Art of Animation
An Introductory Workshop


Gary Schwartz

Single Frame Films


Students immerse themselves in the theory and practice of animation in this intensive hands-on workshop. Covering direct and handmade processes/techniques, students develop animation concepts and skills through the (7) areas of focus in this course. From zoetropes, flipbooks, drawing-on-films/scratch-on-film to digital frame capture, paper cutouts, the Exquisite Corpse and underlight sand. Personal expression in both individual and group projects emphasized.

Day 1

Zoetrope Workshop: The zoetrope, or "Wheel of Life", a 19th century optical toy introduces students to concepts of cycles, rhythms and transformation inherent in animation.

This simple animation device, based on the principle of "persistence of vision" was invented by William George Horner in 1834.

In this "modern" version of the original zoetrope, we start with a black 4 gallon drum. 12 vertical evenly spaced slits: 1/16" wide and 2" high around the circumference of the drum act as the apertures. They are 3" from the bottom (room for the animated strips). Spaces between the apertures (approximately 2 1/2") act as the shutters, freezing the action of the individual images for a short moment.

Animators draw 12 sequentially spaced images on a strip of paper 29 1/2" long and 2 1/2" high. Divided into 12 evely spaced boxes, the animated sequence is read right to left (due to the limitation of clockwise rotation with the turntable).

The strip is placed inside the drum, images facing inward. The drum is spun, viewers looking through the spinning apertures and the drawings come to life.

Metamorphosis and squash and stretch will be covered. Emphasis is placed on personal expression.

Assignment: Photo Flipbook

Day 2

Flipbook Workshop: Many animators' first hands-on introduction to this temporal medium is with these objects of "physical cinema."

Students create animated movies bound together in book form. When these pages are flipped, the drawing breathe with motion.

You work with 40 3x5" index cards. Numbering the cards (1) through (40), animated sequences are drawn. Unlike the zoetrope which has a never ending cyclical format, the flipbook has a beginning, middle and end.

Each drawing of the flipbook will differ just a little from the previous frame. Index cards are semi-transparent, allowing a visual reference of the previous frames for small, incrementally drawn changes from frame to frame.

Basic concepts of extrmes and inbetweens are covered, as well as binding techniques (staples and screws). Examples that include drawn and photographic flipbooks from personal collection on view.

Day 3

Drawing-on-film/Scratch-on-film: "Cameraless Cinema"; In this Multiparticpant (that's Group) project, the entire class will complete (2) 16mm films. Two different films will be created: one on clear 16mm single perf. motion picture film. The other project on black 16mm motion picture film. Students draw on clear films with fine point permanent markers made for drawing on film. The second film, rather than being drawn on, is scratched off revealing the clear film base under the pre-exposed and developed emulsion (color may be added.)

Both films are projected at 24 frames-per-second (standard sound speed). The physical length of 16mm motion picture film is 40 frames per foot. This freeform project will be projected at the end of the day.

Timing and rhythm are covered in the workshop, dealing with the essential nature of film and the process of projection.

Day 4

Exquisite Corpse: Collaborative Animation Project: Part I- The "Exquisite Corpse" was a game played by the surrealists in which someone drew on a piece of paper, folding it and plassing it to the next person to draw on until, finally, the sheet was opened to reveal a calculated yet random composition. In this collaborative project, the Dada-originated "Exquisite Corpse", students develop animated sequences form each other's key drawings.

Assignment: Finish "Exquisite Corpse" animated sequence

Day 5

Exquisite Corpse: Collaborative Animation Project: Part II- Students, working with 8 1/2"x11" paper, Acme animation peg punched and configured for a 10 field center, shoot their finished work on a Video LunchBox digital frame grabber, from Animation Toolworks. Instant feedback!!!

Day 6

Choose Your Technique(s): Drawing, Photo, Rotoscope, Paper Cutout, Replacement, Puppetry, Xerography, Stop-motion, Clay, Underlight Sand, Pixillation, Etc...

Underlight Sand Animation: With this improvisational freeform technique, work frame by frame directly and entirely under the animation camera.

The fluid quality of sand above a lightbox creates a high contrast sillhouette. An excellent opportunity to play with positive/negative space. Draw with sand, working with light and shadow, silhouettes defining images.

Tool for manipulating sand include: your fingers, brushes, wooden sticks, stencils and strainers.

There is no inbetweening in this technique. Each frame of animation wipes away some or all of the previous image. The original artwork exists in an impermanent state of constant change.

The ephemeral nature of this technique is not unlike the sand paintings the Navajo's created for sacred healing ceremonies.

Paper Cutout: In the true spirit of animation, you are working directly under the camera, pre-planned and/or improvising with the Video LunchBox digital frame grabber. Instant feedback!!!

With color paper, photo-montage and found images, create animated sequences. Build articulated puppets with hinged and pivot jointing. Extend possibilities with replacement techniques. Depth is accentuated shooting with a multiplane setup under the camera.
  Pro: Flexibility, direct, improvisational
  Con: Lack of repeatability

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Day 7

Animation Production: Completion, wrap, screening, VIDEO ANIMATION FESTIVAL, Review, Animation Pot Luck Celebration!!!


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