Kesa Animatic

Met with Tom Bertino last week and got some good tips to improve my animatic. Better camera angles and stronger poses = a better story. So here is the new and improved version. I also changed the main character from a guy to a girl – which was actually my original idea. I’m glad that I went with the original idea:

Kesa is a girl living in a tribe at the end of the Ice Age. Mammoth herds are growing thin so her tribe is having a harder and harder time searching for food. Due to her brother’s death and father’s illness, no one in her family is able to join the hunt. She goes off by herself and finds a baby mammoth – with surprising results.

And here’s the new animatic!

Kesu Production Stills

A Hunter seeks out a Mammoth with unusual results.

Thus begins my animated short “Kesu.” Why do a 15 second animated short for class when you can create an entire thesis-film like project for the Spring Show? Sounds like a plan to me. The first 15 seconds are my class assignment, then next minute and 25 seconds are the rest of the film.

One day I will create a short subject. But I love fully fleshed out stories. It’s why I write screenplays instead of short stories and novellas.

Our professor gave us excellent advice – create 10 to 20 story ideas with 5 unexpected outcomes and 5 reactions to each of those outcomes. That led Alice down the rabbit hole of discovery. I planned on filming “The Fighter.” I had created preliminary storyboards, character designs and  was ready to go. But something did not feel right. So I followed my professors assignment and started writing ideas last Saturday at Chipotle. And then the 11th idea came to me.

So don’t listen to anyone who tells you wait around for inspiration. Get out there and churn out as many ideas as possible. That’s how you come up with something. Blood and sweat. (And good food – that helps.)

Here’s the set up of the storyboard that I pitched in class:

Home office set up:

Preliminary stick-figure like storyboards:

Kesu (originally named Kesuk) turnarounds:

Alamet turnarounds:

Size comparison chart:

Kesu and Alamet in action sketches:

Lucky Lenny


Here is my first animated short from Animation I class. I am super excited about this. After years of researching schools, taking drawing classes, reading books, attending seminars, and watching cartoons, I have animated something. Huzzah.

700 sheets of paper later:

The first of many, MANY cartoons.


Thoughts on Animation I

I am currently taking Traditional Animation I and while I am enjoying that class it is kicking my butt. I knew that animation would be difficult, what I did not anticipate was how much timing and spacing played into animation. Things that vaguely made sense in books are beginning to come into sharper focus, but I admit that 1s and 2s, anticipating, drag, timing, spacing and the like can be quite confusing. Add to this watching the work of some of my peers, which is downright phenomenal in some cases and not so great in others.

What I constantly remind myself is that:

a) Everyone is in a different place

b) I am there to learn. If I already knew this stuff I would already have a job.

It is evident that everyone is in a different place. Some people come from an animation background and have a better understanding of the principles. Then there are people like me who gained everything they know from watching DVDs and reading books. Fortunately, this class can be the great equalizer. Even things that seem outstanding are picked apart by our professor – he sees the issues we do not. It’s amazing what he is able to see that we miss.

Interesting enough, the simplest animation tends to be the best. By simple I mean the projects that forgo fancy hair, clothes, eye blinks etc. and focus solely on movement. My goal with my project was to accomplish both. I created a pretty simple character – basically a stick figure with mutton chops and a turtleneck – and am trying to get him to move in a way that does not resemble animated grated cheese. I’ve found that for every smooth movement there are quite a few that appear jerky.

Sometimes the animation is pretty good. Other times it’s irritating, other times disappointing, especially when my aspirations are so high. Growing up with Disney, Warner Bros. and Don Bluth cartoons sets the bar pretty high. Now when I watch cartoons I am simply in awe. Hair blowing in the wind! Delay with movement of clothes. Multiple characters interacting with each other!

Weirdly enough, half the time I feel like I am not competing with my peers but people who already have jobs in the industry, aka people who know what they are doing. What gives me hope is that the people I admire started animating before I was born, so by the time I am their age I will be much better than I am now.

Overall though I am going to continue to grind my way through the process until I have something I can truly be proud of. Then I will continue to animate until I have something else. Then one day I can look at my first animation tests, have a good laugh and continue working on other projects. I will say this though – I am definitely not bored.