Computer Animation

Fall 2008

FINAL Project - The Mousetrap

Assigned: Tuesday, Nov 4th
Models Due: Tuesday, Nov 18th
In Class Critiques:

    Nov 13th Thu – Pitches and Planning Sheets, and Mouse Trap Models Review
    Nov18th Tue – Revised Mousetrap Storyboards and Script Pitch, Board Pieces Due, and Animatic Assigned Ins,    

         [ OBJECTS TO SCALE:  1 Maya unit = 1 inch ]

    Nov 20nd Thu – Animatic Due by CLASS!!!

    Nov 25th Tue – First Motion Review(Motion done for Class)

    Nov 27th Thu – Thanksgiving, no class
    Dec 2th Tue – Mouse Trap Project In-Class Critique, Second Motion Review(again more Motion done for Class), and Review of Look and Feel

Final Project Critique: Thursday, December 4th.  10:30 – 12:20
Final Turnin: Monday, Dec 8th



The final project this quarter is team based and it designed to encourage you to work collaboratively. Collaborative skills will be crucial for you to master both for your work in this class and for work in the animation industry.

Our final project will be based on the board game Mousetrap. The board game is currently in the lab and should remain in the lab at all times so that all members of the class can use it as reference.

Each student has been assigned a group. The group assignments can be found below.  The tasks of motion, shading, lighting, visual effects and rendering will be split among members of the group. All group members will plan/design/execute the work for the shorts and present the story "pitch".

Groups – Models Assigned

Group 1 – Tracey and Brian – Stairs/cup, Tub  

Group 2 – Happy, Nick, Darren – Board and Assembly, trough

Group 3 – Elizabeth, Andrea, Erick – Stop Rubber Band Base, Teeter totter base

Group 4 – Robert, Marianne, Patrick – FootPole, CupHolder/Ball

Group 5 – Daniel, Jesse, Andy – Trap Holder, Slide,

Group 6 – Carolyn, Ryan, Jimmy – Hand Assembly, Gears

Images of the board

Schedule (.doc)
Storyboards (.ppt)
Animatic (.avi)
Motion + Shading + Lighting + Blendshapes (.avi)

Rendering (.htm)



FIRST: Each group will receive a modeling assignment. The assignment consists of one or more game pieces or a game board. Each team must model these objects immediately. When the individual objects are modeled, we will be able to construct the game. These objects are to be modeled accurately and quickly - as EVERYONE in the class will be waiting for their completion in order to continue the project. The assigned objects can be found next to the group assignments above. Feel free to get a head start on modeling these whenever you can as there's only a very short turn around time for this part of the project. Place the finished models in the “models” folder in  "production3\cse458_au08_turn_in\mouse_trap"
ONE file for each model ONLY!!

SECOND: All of the objects except two to three ( the characters that you will add later) will be placed in the scene provided to you. The constructed scene will duplicate, as closely as possible, the physical board game. One group has been assigned the job of pulling the objects together and constructing the replica. This scene will be used by each one of the teams. If the team assigned to construct the scene chooses to, they can make efforts to get other class members to help them. However, it will ultimately be that team's responsibility to get the board game constructed and prepared for each team to use.

THIRD: Each team will develop a story about the Moustrap "process". Who starts the crank and why? What dramatic event is unfolding? What happens as a result? What happened before the dramatic event occurred and why should the audience (your class) care? You will be adding at least TWO CHARACTERS to the game, but no more than 3.  One of the characters will start the crank and one of the characters will get trapped(this may be the same character).  You will need to write down your story. It should be one or two paragraphs. Then, think very carefully about HOW you will best illustrate your story. A good story can be much much better if it is acted and timed and shot in the best possible manner. This means considering the acting and the design of the shot. You can design whatever story and whatever characters you like. You MUST use the game board though and the story has to happen while the game is in play. For characters, you can (1) model your own, (2) use existing models from previous years (remember that these will take time to learn how to use), and/or (3) use models/objects you find elsewhere. Whatever option you choose, be sure to be careful that the models can MOVE in the ways you want them to.


THESE characters can be anything from - a mouse, "character", human -- to a plasma cloud, or force of nature. Be creative, but remember things must make sense in your story. Your story must clear enough so that the audience can understand it -- please include some suspense and resolve it in some manner or other. MAKE SURE that at the beginning, your board looks like the physical game board in our lab. .You must start your animation using the game pieces exactly as you find them in your initial scene. However, you may decide to modify them with blend shapes, deformers, animated geometry, etc.. as the shot progresses.

FOURTH: You'll "pitch" your idea to the class. This will be good practice for you. Just imagine that you are pitching a television sitcom or feature film :) The staff and your colleagues will give you feedback. The staff will be considering whether your intended project is doable in the amount of time you have, If we feel that it might be too overwhelming or even if it is NOT challenging enough, we'll make sure to tell you.

FIFTH: Each group will implement their story with their unique set of characters. In approaching the tasks, team members can share their work but we will be expecting that you split the workload according to motion and then shading/lighting/render. IN your critique analysis, be sure to outline what you accomplished, what your teammate accomplished and what you did together.

Remember to consider design principles (composition, color, and all of the other contrasts, etc) and animation principles (anticipation, squash and stretch, etc) Think carefully about how to support visual storytelling as part of the design of your shot. Consider cinematographic elements. Design whatever you need to construct your story. Determine what you want your viewer to "get" from your shot.

SIXTH: Your last step will probably involve using Premier and/or After Effects to put your shot together. While this can be very straightforward, it can also get complex depending on your plan. There will be demos of Premier so that you can approach your work with confidence. Decide early on what kind of compositing ideas you may want to use. You may want to use different transitions or multiple layers of partially transparent images to support the split screen look. This is all up to you. We will be working with you individually in order to help you determine how best to implement your ideas. Premier and After Effects are VERY powerful programs. You can find a way to implement your idea.

SEVENTH: You will be expected to complete your project and include a title and credits. We'll discuss this further during class. We encourage you to think carefully about TIME management. It will be a real challenge for each team.

This is an ambitious project but very "doable". The fact that you will be working TOGETHER may present some scheduling challenges but will also allow you to accomplish more if you plan well. Everyone has different schedules and finding times to meet will be very very important.

RENDERING is also a HUGE time management challenge. Rendering shots can take days. Please factor this into your schedule. Take advantage of open computer time by sending off renders whenever you leave at night. It’s better to have something in your shot, even though it is not your most stellar work, than to have nothing to show for your work. It's an iterative process. This is why it is important to set aside enough time to address the rendering issues that will, undoubtedly crop up.

What we're looking for

1. Your very best work

Quality rather than quantity -- don't try to do too many things.
Do what you do really well.

2. A story

Include well integrated characters and motion. Be careful not to get too
carried away with tricks. You will need to spend some significant amount of
time planning. Remember that you can use VERY simple objects for your
characters and keep your animation to a minimum if you really want to.
The overall effect and story are more important than a long animated
sequence and/or some complicated models. We are giving you simple objects to start
with so that you can concentrate on the story

Your performance on this project will help us decide who will be placed on
certain teams--and who will lead them-- in the Winter and Spring, so put your
best foot forward.



Turn in may vary depending on your final project, but for all projects
include binary files used and the final composited, rendered sequence. You
should include enough information for us to be able to evaluate what you did.

All turn-in files should be placed in:

\\production3\cse458_au08_turn_in\final_turn_in  by 11:59pm on December 8th.  




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University of Washington, Seattle - 2008