Monday, 25 January 2021

DA703 Animals & Creatures Starts 19 April

Hermit crab animation by Joe Gamble
Module DA703 - Animals and Creatures - starts on 19 April 2021, and is the third module tackled by our students on our online MA in Animation.

DA703 focuses on animal and creature animation, with an emphasis on the kind of photo-realistic animation in which London VFX houses such as Framestore, MPC and DNeg specialise.  

DA703 PR1 is due on Friday 4th June at 2pm.

About DA703 
Shark by Adam Sale

In module DA703 students learn quadruped locomotion, as well as how to animate creatures like birds, spiders and scorpions. As ever, students engage with both the practical and theoretical sides of the art of animation.  

The practical component of the module, assignment DA703 PR1 is due on Friday 4th June 2021 at 2pm.

Animal and Creature Animation for DA703 PR1

squid created and animated by Joe Gamble
DA703 - Animals and Creatures - Practical & Academic - 30 Credits
In this module, which is worth 30 credits, there are two submissions: DA703 PR1, which is a practical assignment (see a fine example of animal and creature animation above), worth 70% of the marks, and DA703 CW1, which is an academic submission, and is worth 30% of the marks.
  • DA703 PR1 - Practical assignment, worth 70% of the module - DA703 PR1 is due on Friday 4th June 2021 at 2pm
  • DA703 CW1 - Written assignment, worth 30% of the module DA703 CW1 is due Friday 7 July 2021

Spider by Joe Gamble
PR1 Learning Outcomes
The learning outcomes of DA703 PR1 are as follows:
  • Demonstrate a professional level of expertise in animal and creature locomotion 
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge and understanding of creature acting, anthropomorphism and performance 
  • Demonstrate sophisticated video editing techniques combining animation with music and sound effects to a professional standard
  • Demonstrate how their own critical awareness and current insights into the animated and virtual representation of animals and creatures, can be used to inform their own animation practice

Start with research
You should first carry out research, both in order to see what other artists have done and also to help you come up with a workable idea.

You will want to find some useful piece of live action reference to base your animation. Try as a useful resource for live action reference.

Character rig
You will also need to make sure you have a dependable character rig that can be used successfully for your animation. Make sure that the you test the rig carefully before animating with it. For example, does it have facial controls? Can it achieve facial expressions and lipcsync - if these are needed?  To search for animal and creature rigs, a good place to start is

"Flame" animated by Amedeo Beretta
Grading DA703 PR1
Students work will be assessed on the following criteria, each being worth 25% of the final grade
  • Creativity and Pre-Production: Creativity – Imagination – invention – innovation – planning - use of thumbnails – storyboards – live action reference 
  • Production: Quality of animation – application of the twelve principles of animation - weight and flexibility – Quality of performance – use of cameras – acting – dialogue & lipsync
  • Post-Production: Texturing – lighting – rendering - titles and credits - sound design 
  • Quality of Outcome: overall success of the shot

2021 Schedule
The schedule for Module DA703 is shown below:

Assignment Brief

The Assignment Brief for DA703 PR1 is to create a short animal or creature animated performance. This could take the form of an animal or creature locomotion cycle, or cycles, perhaps with a transition from one to another. Your work which should feel believable and should be based on natural observation. 

Tell a story
Robo spider by Kent Sunde

DA703 PR1 should ideally include a storytelling element, and a performance. You will likely want to use live action reference for this, and you should show any reference you have used or thumbnails you have created in your final submission. Your shot should be minimum of 6 seconds and a maximum of 11 seconds in length. 

Final submission of DA703 PR1
DA703 PR1 is due on Friday 4th June at 2pm. The final submission should be a short piece of animation, around 7-11 seconds long, uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and emailed to your tutor (that's me). It should be accompanied by a single pdf showing your preparation and planning, such as thumbnail sketches and/or storyboards.

Edward Muybridge - still an impotant reference
Resources on Animal and Creature Animation
The main resource for all our online MA students is the animal and creature section of Animation Apprentice, the online school to which all our students have access. Students should study quadruped locomotion, including walks, trots and runs.

In addition, Animation Apprentice has tutorials on bird locomotion, insects (spiders and scorpions), dinosaurs and butterflies. Other important resources include the expanded edition of the Animator's Survival Kit, and Edward Muybridge's pioneering work on animal locomotion.

Kiwi animation by Oliver Canovas
Live action reference
In addition to this, an understanding of the use of live action reference is important, as most successful animal and creature locomotion is based carefully on live action.

BNU Links
To see some more useful resources on how to learn the art of animal and creature animation, follow the links below:

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days, take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK.

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