CSE 456 - Story for Digital Animation

Assignment #3


  • Tuesday, 7/22 by 9:30 AM (story pitch)
  • Thursday, 7/24 by 5:00 PM (final deadline)

You will be iterating your story with the following checklist in mind:

  1. Is your story as clear, simple and and succinct as you can make it?
  2. Is your armature statement a clear, complete sentence?
  3. Does your story have 7 steps that follow in a logical order?
  4. Have you skipped a step or added steps?
  5. Is your armature proven? Is it clear?
  6. Is your story as visual as possible?
  7. Is your story best told as an animated short?
  8. Do you have have a maximum of three characters?
  9. Do you have only one set?
  10. Is your story as active and engaging as you can make it?

You will be incorporating your newfound skills with the Cinematic Sandbox with your understanding of the concept of Personal Hell (based on our exercise in class) and clones (based on the lecture and examples in class) into the story you created for Assignment #2. You will continue to improve your story and add voiceover and audio along with faux animation and innovative ways to visualize the action. You will improve the pacing of the story by practicing your acting and pitching skills and will pare the animatic and voiceover to no more than three and half minutes.  You will polish the animatic and show it to "fresh eyes" (those who haven’t seen it) and collect their feedback and respond to it.

Do your best to "become a slave to your story" and think about why this specific story is extremely important to tell. Consider your audience -- will people care about seeing your animatic and experiencing your story? If not, how can you make your story more compelling and universally appealing?


What is due July 22nd by 9:30 AM for your story pitch(es) in class:

  1. 2 Rendered Animatics:
    • One will have audio/foley and no voiceover. 
    • One will have no audio/foley and a voiceover.
    • Each animatic will run no longer than three and a half minutes.

  2. Title, Armature Statement, 7 Step Story

  3. Beatsheet with sequence and shot list

  4. Three adjectives to describe each character. Proposed name for each character

  5. Thumbnail Sheet

  6. Any support reference for the story including reference images or drawings for your character design and set.

Your work will be submitted to your folder on the class Dropbox. 


What is due July 24th by 5:00 PM for your final turn-in:

  1. 2 Rendered Animatics:
    • One will have audio/foley and no voiceover. 
    • One will have no audio/foley and a voiceover.
    • Each animatic will run no longer  than three and a half minutes.

  2. Title, Armature Statement, 7 Step Story

  3. Completed Beatsheet

  4. Completed Thumbnail Sheet

  5. Character Design/Concept Art

  6. Photo Reference for any aspect of the story

  7. Set Design

  8. Any Story Structure Practice work

Your work will be submitted to your folder on the class Dropbox.


Additional Notes:

Incorporate everything you’ve learned about Story for Animated Films in all of the Lecture and Lab sessions to your final work.  The final story items you turn in via dropbox should properly represent the design and structure of your story world. 

For your last assignment in the class, you will produce the best possible story animatic that would really knock everyone’s socks off if it were to be be produced as a completed 3D animated short. You will be pitching your story in class. Remember for your story pitches to show your audience your excitement for the story. Fall in love with the story. Look at your audience and share your story and why it is an important story to tell. Use active language. Use props and illustrate wherever it will help. Write down ALL of your feedback. Feedback is a gift. Then address the feedback thoughtfully. 

You will create completed versions of your Title, 7 steps, thumbnails, Beatsheet, character design, story set and animatic. Remember to adhere to the story design limitations imposed on you in Assignment #1 and #2. They are repeated below for your convenience. Visualize your story and work to tighten the steps and connect the armature, visualize the characters, setting and actions. Bring the characters to life by applying the acting techniques suggested to you in class. 

Remember to iterate utilizing all of the story tools that we have introduced and reviewed with you in class — including your title,  your seven steps, your Beatsheet, your thumbnails, your Personal Hell exercise,  and your animatic reel. Consider how you can support the immersive nature of storytelling for animated film by carefully considering the look of your set and the behavior of each of your characters. 

Answer for yourself why your story should be conveyed as an animated film? Add a story pitch description /voiceover on one copy of your animatic reel. A voiceover will need to be recorded and added onto the last version of the reel before you turn it in. It helps to write an outline for the voiceover and then practice several times before recording a final version. 

Set aside the second copy of the animatic (to be without a voiceover) and instead add foley (if the story requires it - sound effects are optional) and audio (music is required) to the second copy of your animatic.

Take the time to design and time your voiceover to your visuals.  

Plan to meet your deadlines but also leave time for improvement. Remember to communicate and coordinate your schedules with your story group and to work with your colleagues and your friends to get as much constructive feedback as you can. Your final work will be your own. Incorporate your unique signature. 

You will complete the thumbnails for class feedback and review during the last two class sessions. Add audio early on so that it can be reviewed and iterated. Try your best to have your work reviewed before moving too far ahead.  Please provide visual support that includes character reference photos and/or drawings and reference for your set as it helps to bring us into your story world.  See your course website for examples of site and character reference. 


Checklist for your story pitches:

  • Prepare an outline 
  • Relax.  
  • Practice your pitch ahead of time - find people to listen and provide feedback who haven't heard your story pitch. 
  • Practice more than you need to. You will improve dramatically. Work with the colleagues in your class to help improve your story.
  • Get as much feedback as you can and address it appropriately 
  • Use props and/or include other people in your pitch. 
  • Act out your story when appropriate. Be the characters - it will help you understand them. 
  • Use active language and avoid "internal" descriptions.
  • Address your pacing. Edit out unnecessary description or add in steps to help clarify beats so as not to confuse or lose your audience. 
  • Do whatever you need to in order to bring the audience into the story experience. 
  • Present a story best told using 3D animation and use the strengths of animation as part of your pitch.
  • Look at your audience and make every effort to engage them during your pitch.
  • Be creative and try to have fun. 

Limit the story pitch to 1 and a half minutes and time yourself. Use this checklist to help you evaluate and improve your story.

Below is a list of your story limitations:

  1. .Limit your story to three characters (max). 
  2. Use the armature that has been assigned to you
  3. Story ( animatic) must be able to be produced and understood in 3 and a half minutes.
  4. Story takes place in one setting 
  5. Story is designed around a specific time and place and those are stated. 
  6. The visual representation of your story supports your seven steps in a way that best dramatizes your story
  7. Your seven steps prove your armature. 
  8. Your story is an important one to tell. 

Here’s your Checklist for your Final Turn-In to your Dropbox for CSE 456.

  1. Include your name on all of your work 
  2. Please be sure to have all previous labs and assignments in your student dropbox folder for final review 
  3. Include an appropriate Title for your story
  4. Include the date, time, and place the story takes place.
  5. Include your Armature Statement
  6. Include your Completed 7 steps
  7. Include your Sequence and Shot list ( in your Beatsheet)
  8. Include your final Beatsheet and be sure it is consistent with your Animatic
  9. Include the Name of each Character and also your three adjective description for each character .
  10. Include any Character model reference sheets
  11. (Optional) Family Tree
  12. Final Design for the Site Plan
  13. (Optional) Any Storyboards in Color
  14. Include your Personal Hell exercise - include your name in the final exercise sheet. 
  15. Include your completed Thumbnails and be sure to have the thumbnails numbered properly, clearly drawn, and designed to be read from the upper left of the page to the lower right. 

One more note: Please test all of your files before submitting them into dropbox.  We can’t be responsible for any technical troubleshooting after you've submitted your final work. 

Good luck and enjoy the process!