Saturday, 30 June 2007

Writing Short Animations.

Jan Weddup, (scriptwriting lecturer) has often said that I should offer to write for the animators in the third-year -- because it’s a good way to get your name attached to a high-quality animated piece and make a contact.

I’ve always been interested in animation and writing for it. But when it comes to animated shorts (ha ha) I didn’t have a clue on how to write one and always thought that its something that a) I don’t have the comic-ability for and 2) the skill to write such a piece. The thought and prospect laid at the back of my mind for a good five months and then one day I began thinking about ideas.

BU animation-wise I knew what could be done by what I’ve seen and I knew what I liked story and character-wise. But when it came down to it I didn’t know where to start. So I started looking at a few animated feature ideas I have (which I know will only ever be dreams) and taking their concepts and seeing if I could condense their essence into an animated short. But that was just the beginning.

As I began to think in terms of animation it was only time until new ideas started coming. And i didn't have to wait long. An idea came out of nowhere and I ended up finishing a first draft pretty quickly. It’s four minutes and I see it as being animated in a pretty basic way. Basic is probably an insult but it doesn’t need to be photo realistic or anything.

Its the story of a mischievous fox who gets his last lesson in the ‘Book of Life‘. It can work on a basic animated level or in fine detail. Its features are; trees/garden scenery, inside two rooms of a house, two animal and one human character and object interaction.

It’s in typical animation comedy form - although subtle; I don’t like to consciously think about writing comedy because in my opinion (and perfectionist/mildly paranoid mind state) it ends up ruining it. It almost did for this although its more irony than actual purposeful laugh out loud jokes.

Although one stupid joke (that isn’t funny) still makes me laugh. But it needs to be there because what its based around is a link to the persona of the mysterious villain-hunter character. It’s the first joke (attempt) in the script and I think of it as what Dewy in Scream 2 refers to as ‘lowering peoples expectations to effectively manoeuvre within any given situation’. I’m a geek I know. It works visually that’s why I still laugh when I think about it. It’s the only stupid joke though.

The rest all felt natural to do so i didn't have to over think them. The main thing with writing it is obviously what I find funny but also bearing in mind other peoples expectations. But Book of Life is something that I would want to see and would enjoy. And that’s why we write.

After the Book of Life my short animated receptors (ha ha) were pretty much turned off but more ideas started flowing. At the closure of what I thought was a freak accident of a good idea wasn‘t so. I’ve now got four solid ideas that I will complete before the summer is up and more in the works. Its seems that a once closed door has now been opened as I can’t stop seeing short animations in everything. All the ideas are completely different in terms of high/low concept and content and I’m not really sure if any are good or appropriate. But I’ll be happy if at least one is liked.

I was worried about not fitting enough in to make the reveals and end sting in the tale work and I knew I only had a few minutes of screen time. This is where time apart really helped. Coming back with a fresh mind helped to add certain details and takeout what wasn’t advancing the story and only dragged it down. And that’s the main thing with writing just go with your instincts and your learn by your mistakes. I actually took some of my favourite things out but I’m always prepared to do that because in the end; its about writing the most effective story for the audience. Not for you. Another thing that I’ve learnt with writing animation is that its good fun. So I think everyone should try it and your probably surprise yourself. I did.

Tips I’ve learnt. (I know I’m no expert. But they might help.)

-Initially, keep it small and simple. That way you have room to manoeuvre and add depth and detail to make it appear more bigger than it is.

-The best comedic shorts are based around a situation, moment or moral tale.

-Keep in mind audience (and your own) expectations at every turn and try to beat/raise them.

-Character expressions. It’s what animators want when reading a script and its what the story’s all about. So make the main character stand-out and likeable. (At first I didn‘t have any reaction or personality with the fox in Book of Life- he was just a mischievous fox in his first appearance. But now his thick black eyebrows are his trademark. I should think of some more.)

-The character(s) is everything. At the heart of the story is the oddball main character/hero. So think about how vulnerable/likable and original he can be.

-Watch short animations to get a feel for what you can do and where you can go.

No comments:

Post a Comment