online character animation

Pre-Visualization Workshop

One Workshop - 11 Weeks

The filmmaking process of pre-visualization is an essential tool that seeks to resolve both creative and production issues, and helps to tell a story economically while maximizing visual scale. 3D pre-visualization requires a wide range of software skills and a solid understanding of filmmaking craft. During this 11 week course students will learn the filmmaking practices of cinematic staging and composition, and the iterative steps to create and complete their own pre-visualized sequence in Maya.

The class with be taught by Conan Low, a Senior Layout Artist with over 20 years of experience working at companies like DreamWorks Animation and Industrial Light & Magic. Most recently, Conan completed work on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Ready Player One, and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Conan Low's pre-visualization/layout reel.
Property of DreamWorks Animation
Workshop 1

Workshop 1

The 11 week course, specially designed for iAnimate, will teach students the fundamentals of staging, pacing, layout, camera and scene setup. The objective is to get the students comfortable and confident with translating pre-established storyboards into a working, coherent 3D sequence.

  • Class Length: 11 weeks

  • Price Per Class: $999

What to expect in this Workshop

Week 1: Introduction to Pre-visualization (Previs)

What is previs? Why is it important? Learn about previs's place in the filmmaking process and its importance to telling a coherent story, before reviewing and analyzing three sample storyboarded sequences. Course overview and workshop expectations will be discussed.

Action: Select storyboarded sequence to use as inspiration for workshop project.

Week 2: Set Up & Work Flow

Having selected a segment of storyboard for a semester project, learn how to analyze a sequence and break it down to the required elements. This session will also cover planning and organizational tools/habits that help create efficient work sessions and a productive workplace environment.

Action: Create a breakdown document and plan out all elements needed for the sequence.

Week 3: Constraints

Proper setup of a scene is the foundation for making complex animations that are easily modified. Organizational techniques and simplified setups (constraints) that are the building blocks to iterate quickly will be discussed.

Action: Build the master scene with all assets organized for production.

Week 4: Animation in Previs vs. Final Animation

In previs, the artist needs to provide enough information through their character’s performance to motivate the camera. The mood or dramatic intent of the scene also needs to be clear. The differences between animation for previs and final animation, including the need to work quickly while leaving “room” for the animator to create the performance, will be discussed.

Action: Begin previs animation process.

Week 5: Camera Theory Part 1 - “I’m sorry Smokey, you were over the line…”

In this first of three sessions covering camera, the focus will be on the basics of composition; the line of action; and camera movement terminology.

Action: Refine blocking animation and start to add camera setups.

Week 6: Camera Theory Part 2 - Which Way Did He Go?

The cinematographic principles of eye-fix and screen direction--essential filmmaking tools--will be emphasized in this second session on camera theory.

Action: Refine and complete previs animation for sequence.

Week 7: Camera Theory Part 3 - Story and Emotion

The third session on camera theory covers a breakdown of how a real world camera functions and the narrative implication of camera placement. How to ground camera work in reality, while using a computer to mimic a real world camera, will be discussed.

Action: With stage play finalized it’s now time to generate coverage.

Week 8: Lighting & Rendering

Analyze basic lighting setups and learn how this powerful tool can add emotion and affect to the tone of a film.

Action: Add lighting and begin beauty renders of shots.

Week 9: FX. Editing & Timing

Adding FX in an efficient manner can add real visual impact to a scene. It can also be the final marker in the visual roadmap for the rest of production. Once all the elements are in place, timing should be locked down. Learn to add symphonic polish to a sequence by adjusting the sound and music in the final edit.

Action: Lock down shot timing. Layer in temporary music and sound effects.

Week 10: Camera Polish & Finaling

Camera shake and other subtle corrections help sell an audience on the realism of what they’re viewing. Students will learn to make these adjustments to camera movement between scenes to help with visual continuity.

Action: Evaluate shots and add camera shake and polish where needed.

Week 11: Review & Reels

Present final work. Giving and receiving creative feedback is a necessary part of a successful production. The process and criteria used for group evaluation of projects will be discussed prior to presentations.

What Students Are Saying

  • Aaron McGriff
  • Anna White
  • Ed Herft
  • Colin Brown
  • Aaron McGriff

    "iAnimate was such a life-changing experience for me. After years of working in the industry but never quite reaching my full potential or career goals, I noticed that my skills had started to stagnate. I had been interested in online schools for years but the timing had never been just right."

  • Anna White

    "Six workshops and less than two years later, right at the end of my last iAnimate workshop, I was offered a job as an animator on my first feature film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (at Sony Imageworks). I can't say enough great things about Jason Ryan and the entire iAnimate community, and I owe so much of my success to all of them."

  • Ed Herft

    "I'm really grateful to the team at iAnimate. Without their great tuition and hard work, I'm sure I would not be working in feature film now. They really helped me improve every aspect of my animation."

  • Colin Brown

    I've had multiple interviews where they ask "What game is that from?" when viewing pieces I did in classes 1 and 2. iAnimate has been a huge influence on my demoreel and my job positions recently