Inglis Thorburn comments on conceptsInglis Thorburn. The idea for 'Minty Cool, Minty Cool' came to me after an encounter with an over crusty sandwich which broke my dental bridgework. When I inspected my two front teeth I was struck by how they resembled a pair of white bell-bottoms which  immediately reminded me of Elvis. Not long after that the idea came to me of teeth being brushed and then wobbling in-time to a sound track.

How often have you watched a movie and wondered what the makers were thinking of? Perhaps they simply needed a better concept and plan! The importance of the Development stage of an animation cannot be emphasised enough. Aims and objectives not thought through at the beginning can often lead to poor results! It's not necessarily a quick process but it is essential!

So, what does developing an animation involve?

Get the story right
The first requirement is a basic story concept. What's the story message and how is it to be conveyed? Will humour be used? Without a good story it doesn't matter how good the animation is, it will always be let down by the poor story.

Check the approach
Will the story work best as an animation? When people watch an animation they accept it's not reality so they're happy to immerse themselves in the imaginary world created by the animator. Visual tricks to do with scale and shape which would be virtually impossible using live action techniques are relatively commonplace within animation. The effect in Minty Cool, Minty Cool when Elvis emerges from the mouth required relatively little work and so for this reason alone, animation was the right choice for the project.

Getting going
The novice animator should aim to create a short story-line and simple animation. We all think differently. Some people are inspired by visual ideas whereas others might imagine a story but have a poor vision of how the animation may look and feel. Ideas may stem from a personal experience or be inspired by a story or conversation.

Ideas may initially be abstract but using methods such as writing thoughts down on paper makes them easy to come back to at a later date and also share them with others. Collaborating or getting help at this stage is very useful as often two minds are better than one. The process may take several hours, days or weeks.

To see an example of character design for a mainstream movie take a look at these pages on Pixar's site depicting the cast from The Incredibles.

The sketches below show some initial ideas for the main character of 'Minty Cool, Minty Cool'. Inglis wanted the character to appear as though he had just woken.

Minty Cool, Minty Cool, ideas for main character

Some example sketches

The sketches below demonstrate a key part of the story concept when the wobbling teeth transform into Elvis.

Minty Cool, Minty Cool - concept drawings

How long should an animation be?

Knowing how long an animation may run and what specialist services and skills will be required are all major considerations for a professional animation company. For the novice such considerations are equally as important. When you take into consideration that each second of animation may require as many as 10 or more drawings you don't need to be Einstein to work out that a minute of animation could require in excess of 600 drawings. An over-ambitious project is likely to flounder whereas a meticulously planned 15 seconds of simple animation could highlight the maker's skill and talent to anyone who views it.

  1. What is Development?
  2. Conceptualisation
  3. Fine Tuning Ideas
  4. Script Writing
  5. The Pitch
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