Course Syllabus

Doug Johnson (


Students will learn the basic principals of making animated films through viewing and producing two short animated assignments. They will work in small groups (or independently) producing:
1.)   A production company, short animated sequence.
2.)   A feature length, plot driven film.
Students will learn to use Fire Alpaca, and the Wacom Drawing tablet to produce artwork, characters, and to string together animated scenes. Students will edit sequences together adding music, narration, and sound effects, using Adobe Premier. Still frames, and credits can be produced using Adobe Photoshop.  All projects will help students learn to explore different artistic mediums/animation techniques, basic movement and timing, soundtrack/dialogue synchronization. Throughout the semester, students will view films to obtain ideas for their personal projects. Final projects will be uploaded to Youtube and shown at the annual WHS Film & Animation Festival in the Spring. Awards are given out to the Best Animation and Best of Show!
A.    Students will come up with several possible names for their production company to be animated.
B.     Students will brainstorm multiple Elevator Pitch Ideas to present to the class. Your ideas should be simple concepts explained clearly in one, or two sentences. Think of your film as a “commercial”. You will have a limited amount of time to tell your story and film it, so keep it clear, concise, and easy for the audience to understand. We (the class) will help develop your ideas so you can choose the best one and refine it into a compelling storyline that can be turned into an animated movie.
Below are a couple good examples of how a class tried to define (elevator pitch) a movie called “The Bully”.
1.)   The Bully” is a film about a small town that is terrorized by a bully, and then destroys
2.)   The Bully” is a film about a group of townspeople who are terrorized by the town bully and the moral dilemma they are confronted with, of what to do about him.
3.)   The Bully” is about the rise and fall of a small town bully whose victims reach their limits and take actions to end the torment.
Students will develop their concepts through storyboarding first. You will outline your Production Company Name Animation and your Feature Length, Plot Driven Animation in a comic strip style storyboard (see attached example). This is an important document and considered the blueprint for your project. We will be referring back to your storyboard periodically throughout the semester. The sketches do not need to be beautiful, just clear concepts and understandable movement/transitions etc.
Now it’s time to start creating the artwork. This can be achieved in a number of different ways. Using Bristol Board and cutting out 2D objects and animating them on top of backgrounds is a simple way. If you are uncomfortable with your drawing skills, consider using cutouts from photos, magazines, Google Images etc. You may work in 3D, creating sculpted characters out of plasticine clay (Claymation!). If you’re computer savvy you may download the free software program, Fire Alpaca and draw all of your artwork digitally, assembling frames in Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Premiere. The possibilities are endless. Be sure to choose a process you are comfortable with!
Some films will be animated under the camera. Others will be assembled in Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Premiere. Scenes can be worked on and shot/assembled out of order and edited together in Premiere. You will add video transitions, sound effects, voice narration and music at this time. Your animated Production Company Name will be added to your feature length animation in Adobe Premiere. Your final project will be exported to an MP4 file that can be uploaded to Youtube for the world to see. Final animations will be shown at the Annual Wellesley High School Film & Animation Festival in the auditorium during school. There’s nothing more exciting than screening your movie in front of a live audience!
  • Fire Alpaca Digital Painting and Animation Software
  • Adobe Premiere Editing Software
  • Adobe Photoshop Software
  • Wacom Drawing Tablet
Full attendance is expected. Please be sure to give me a note, if you miss a class. Three late arrivals to class will equal one excused absence. In all cases when you miss a class, you should assume responsibility for obtaining assignments given during your absence.
Your assignments will be graded on how well you understand concepts (time, shot, sequence, narrative) and the skill of your craftsmanship (artwork creation, shooting, and editing skills). Your final grade will be based on the quality of work and your willingness to challenge yourself, improve and collaborate in a group setting! Effort counts for a lot in this class. Work submitted beyond the due date will result in a lower grade. But you may always resubmit and make improvements to a project after the deadline.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due