On 13 December, renowned freelance animator, Mr Philippe Coenen, visited UIC to give an Animation Lecture and Workshop. This talk was hosted by the Division of Culture and Creativity (DCC).

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At first, Mr Coenen talked about how he got his start in animation, and showed some of the first animations ever created. He discussed how animating is a very lengthy process, especially for big feature films. Mr Coenen highlighted the importance of having a good script to make a movie, because unless you have an interesting story, it doesn’t matter how good the animation is; people won’t watch it.

Later in his talk, Mr Coenen talked about how every story has a ‘curve’ to it, usually with the character(s) starting off doing pretty well, a problem happening, and then things getting better. He detailed that most movies are made based on this theme, because audiences like to see the character work through a problem, and then have a happy ending.

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Mr Coenen detailed the steps to making an animated movie for the audience. The first step is creating the pitch material. This means having a concept, characters and a story. Mr Coenen said that this part usually takes about six months, but could take a lot longer. It is the most important step because it forms the basis of your script.

The second step is to identify a buyer – someone who will fund the project. Mr Coenen mentioned different sources of funding, and identified this as a tricky step, because you have to convince someone your work is worth investing in.

The third step is building the core team to make the movie. This includes a producer, a writer, a concept author and a director, along with the many other people needed to make up the team. The fourth step is the pre-production, which deals with the scripts, assets, storyboard and acting. This then runs into the fifth step which is your production plan. This can be quite complicated, and Mr Coenen said a typical movie will have about 300,000 tasks that need to be completed. Once those steps are finished, the last steps are the production, and then final delivery.

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After introducing the audience to the steps to make a movie, Mr Coenen showed a short Dreamworks production that detailed the steps even further. The audience was left amazed at how much detail is put into created an animated movie. From conception to sketching out the scenes, to making 3D models of characters and designing how they interact with their surroundings, the audience members learned that an animation requires a lot of work and many different artists to complete it.

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Once the audience understood the steps to making an animated movie, Mr Coenen talked more about how to become an animator. He gave the example of a bouncing ball, and how he would draw each step of that motion in order to create a short animation. Keys, contacts, extremes and the breakdown are the four things that animators need to look for in an animation. These respectively mean different points that the moving object will be at while on the screen, and he went into detail about each one. After this, Mr Coenen brought a student volunteer on stage to act out a short movie, which he later analysed with the audience so they could point out the keys, contacts, extremes and breakdown points.

Mr Coenan’s talk was very in-depth, and students were able to take away a lot from his visit. The audience learned that animation is a very creative field, yet a very precise one as well.

Reporter/Photographer: Samantha Burns
Editors: Deen He, Samuel Burgess