Inside Sheridan Animation Workshops Taught By Nancy Beiman

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Students in these two special 7-week animation courses get a supplement to their animation curriculum with extra lessons on performance and maquettes.

The Animation Performance Workshop focuses on acting and timing, which brings animation to life. Students were given two projects, one of which was based on taking simplified objects and given them life through animation. Some final projects included a coffee mug and a donut that move like a person and a dog, a pearl necklace that moves like a snake and a USB drive that behaves like a scorpion.

These short animated sequences presented their animators with special challenges, because students must attribute to their objects movements that are usually associated with living creatures. Yet, they have to maintain the physical limitations of the object they are working with (ex. a ceramic mug cannot move the same way that a person does).

Students reported that they are enjoying this class, as they are all very keen to hone their animation skills.

One student named Ali Pour Nassari volunteered his animation test as an example. Ali explained, “The seti character is quite simple, and it does help the animator to focus on the acting, and performance, rather than achieving ‘pretty’ drawings. Every frame, must be a storytelling drawings, and should portray the message and idea that we are trying to say. As Walt Disney said, ‘animators are actors with Pencil.'”
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The Maquette workshop teaches designing and building a character out of wire and clay, which is called a Maquette. Students first design their character on paper in a dynamic pose, and then they construct an armature with wire, and build a 3D model from the wire frame.

Traditionally, Maquettes have been used by character developers to present a 360 ° view of the character, to help with perspective in animation.  maquettes are also used on set to test lighting, and they are sold as special edition movie merchandise.

Maquette-making fell out of fashion in the 1950s, but came back in the 1970s because it was an effective way to design characters. Now the industry is starting to prefer making maquettes digitally, using Zbrush. One can test lighting within the Zbrush program, and a digital maquette can be directly transferred into Maya for CG animation. Digital maquettes can be made physical too, as some Sheridan students are doing using our 3D printer.

Student in The Maquette workshop reported that they found great value in creating a physical model of their character because it helped them understand the physical requirements and limitations of the character. For example, one student found that two heads require a much broader chest to support, while another found that his shark’s lower body needed to be thinned out in order to give a good view of its fins from all directions.

These workshops are for those in the animation program who want to gain extra skills over the summer. You can learn more about Sheridan’s Animation program here.

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