This is the first of a series of short posts with hints and tips for The WOSCARS 2013 categories. Following these tips does not guarantee success in The WOSCARS, but it won't hurt your chances!

The Best Animation category

A great animation has the same characteristics as a great film:

  • A clear narrative based on an interesting idea
  • Interesting characters and settings.
  • A story that makes the audience feel something - excited, happy, sad, sympathy, humour

Technical details are important: the smoothness of movement, lighting, the quality of your models and so on. However, a crude animation based on a simple, clever idea is more enjoyable and rewarding to watch than a technically superior animation without those things. While great animated films, from Snow White to Toy Story, The Incredibles to Wallace and Gromit, are technically excellent, they really succeed because they are wonderful stories, skilfully told.

Timing in animations is critical. The tendency when creating an animation is to rush things. Animations are often time-consuming to put together, so the temptation to rush is strong. Think carefully about using pauses in your animation. One 'rule' that I have always encouraged students to follow when creating an animation is the ½ second rule. Whenever there is a change in your animation - a character changes direction, stops moving, prepares to speak - have at least a half-second pause in the action. Without these pauses, characters in animations tend to swirl, seemingly aimlessly, around the screen, without the audience ever really having chance to understand what is happening.

The issue of timing is one part of the wider need to plan an animation. What is going to happen in your story? How long will it take? If you can, plan to use a variety of framing techniques in your animation, much as you might when shooting a live action film. Is a character crying? Show a close up of her face. Is a particular object very important to understanding the story? Show a close up of that too. The most common way to plan an animation is using a storyboard, usually as a series of sketches in rectangular frames.

Ultimately, planning effectively will save you time, as once you come to actually create the animation, you'll have fewer false starts as you turn your plan into reality.

Finally, sound is very important in animated films. Try to find appropriate sound effects and music that heighten the emotional impact of your animated film, bearing in mind, of course, that you cannot use copyright music or sounds in your films. Why not record your own sound effects and music?

Hopefully these tips will help you to create wonderful animations, or to tweak your existing animations, ready for submitting to The WOSCARS. We can't wait to see your animated entries this year!