Oct 30, 2009

The Making of "A Quick Lesson in Skiing"

Back in school during 2008, we were given the task of making a cut-out animated short using After Effects.
I started by scribbling down several ideas that had very simple premises. Different locales, different plots, but all generally based on the idea of timing the story to classical music.
I was inspired by Disney's Fantasia 2000, especially Eric Goldberg's sequences "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Carnival of Animals". I also was inspired by Friz Freleng's classic Warner Bros cartoons, "Pigs in a Polka", "Mouse Mazurka", "Rhapsody Rabbit", "Rhapsody in Rivets" and "The Three Little Bops". When you animate a cartoon to music, the timing is there for you, all you got to do is build an endearing story set to the tune. Easier said than done I'm afraid.
I settled on the music of Camille Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals: Finale" after seeing the Looney Tunes TV special, "Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals". I found the music pretty catchy while being highly addicting.
When listening to the music, I always pictured a chase of some kind with it's "up and down" melody, but settled on an actual funny moment from my life. I went on a ski trip quite a few years ago and will always remember trying to conquer that mountain without falling down. I slid down that slope on my final day with such grace until I reached the bottom, coming to a dead halt on my face. Hey, at least I made it all the way down the hill.
I started sketching out rough character designs and story ideas for my story.
I quickly started researching my favorite animated pieces that dealt with mountains, both snowy and not. I also searched the web for photos that reminded me of that faithful ski trip.After settling on a character design, I quickly started sketching out a rough storyboard timed to the music by Camille Saint Saens.We were instructed to create an animatic of our storyboard before moving to final animation. Enjoy my rough-as-heck sketches animated to the music here:

After timing everything out, I finalized my character poses and finalized each piece of animation in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.Now after 3 months of work, please enjoy the final short complete with color in all it's musical glory.

I was flattered to find out that my cartoon was the opening headliner of the school's Extreme Design Film Festival. Now if only I had the time to bring my other ideas to animated form.


Anonymous said...

This is so cool! I love seeing the step-by-step and then the finished product.

I am just in awe of animation, and yours is great!

James E. Daniels said...

Thanks very much! I appreciate the love for a project that really took some time to do.
I hope to create more when I find the time...