Expression in Motion


  • to gain experience shooting animation in the 2d lab and learn how to use Dragon Stopmotion
  • to understand how to work with digital files in the labs and on the servers
  • to practice framing shots
  • to begin to develop a sense for timing and the relationship between acting and animating
  • to develop a sense for how motion itself can express character and emotion


In this assignment, you will animate an inanimate small object that has no inherent expression (i.e. no facial features) to communicate an emotion or to represent one of the behaviors that you’ve observed of your animal.  The object could be a piece of torn paper, a coin, a key, a guitar pick, a piece of string of any other relatively neutral item.


  • Find a partner to shoot this assignment with.  Agree when you will meet to shoot your two sequences and book time after your proficiencies.  You should each use no more than 2 hours to shoot and export your movies, so each pair should book no more than 4 hours in the lab.
  • Choose your approach:

o      People new to animation should simply try to express an emotion with the object.  According to Temple Grandin, researchers have identified four primal emotions: rage, prey chase drive, fear and curiosity/interest/anticipation (Animals in Translation, Harcourt, 2005, 93).  Choose one of these to try to express.

o      People with prior analog animation experience should base their sequence on initial observations of their animals.  After your first observations, chose a whole body motion, action or gesture that your animal makes that you would like to represent in animation.  For example, the action of a bird coming to a feeder, taking a seed and leaving, or a dog’s movement approaching another animal cautiously before sniffing it, or a prey animal startling and fleeing.  If your animal is part of a group, you may attempt to animate the interactions of more than one object.

  • Act the emotion, gesture or action out a minimum of 3 times so you feel the timing of it.  Each time you act the action out, count the seconds (you can use a stop watch or other timer), so you know how long it takes and when it speeds up and when it slows down.
  • On a horizontally oriented 8 ½ x 11 piece of paper, draw a path of action for this emotion or gesture.  Mark steps along it for frames based on what you think the timing should be after acting it out.  Aim for a sequence that lasts between 10 and 30 seconds; decide whether you’ll shoot on twos or threes (10 seconds=100 images shot on 3s or 150 shot on 2s).
  • Referring to the path of action notes you’ve made, practice animating the action with the object on the Lunchbox (do not shoot the paper with the path of action itself.
  • With your partner, shoot the sequence in the 2d lab.  Have your partner work with the computer while you are animating, then swap roles.
  • Render to Quicktime using these settings:

o      Standard aspect ratio (4:3) at 1024 pixels by 768 pixels.

o      30 frames per second

  • Name your Quicktime Movie “your” and save it to the User Drive.  Launch Quicktime and play your movie to make sure it exported okay.
  • Copy your movie to our program share on Orca and put it in the “expression in motion” folder in the Workspace.  Copy your Dragon files to your Cubby in our program folder on Orca.
  • After viewing your movie several times, make some notes on the process, what you expected the sequence to communicate and what you think it actually does communicate.  Speculate about how you might do it differently next time.

Due Date

We will view and discuss your movies in class on Monday, April 16th, so you need to have completed the assignment and posted it to the Orca Workspace folder by that time.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>