My write-up on intro to animation workshop

Related event: Introduction to Animation (Sat 05 Sep 2015)

What a great workshop! Big thanks to Pulse College for hosting our workshop. We were the first ones to try out their new lab before college starts and the space is amazing.

Big shout out to Dan, our mentor, who squished 4-5 years of his animation experience down to a few hours!

And to everyone who showed up on the day, I am glad you enjoyed the workshop. I'm going to chase up with Dan to run a practical one at Pulse.

Here are some notes I took (when I was around), which I will condense down for this post.

After Dan introduced himself, he showed his studios showreel.

Giant Showreel 2015 from Giant Animation Studios on Vimeo.

A Selection of work designed, directed and produced by Giant Animation Studios.

Music is 'East Coast' by Gramatik - (

Showreel contains animation produced by Giant Animation Studios and some of the following work has been producer for clients such as:

Fastway's 'Parcel Connect'
Jam Media’s ‘Curly Hare’
Bonfire Media’s ‘Parcel Motel’
Digit Games ‘Sting’
Target McConnell’s ‘One Direct’
Publicis QMP’s ‘Eurospar’
Cartoon Saloon’s ‘Cad e Sin’
The Station’s ‘Relax’

Afterward the he went straight into the 12 principles of animation.

The illusion of life from cento lodigiani on Vimeo.

The 12 basic principles of animation were developed by the 'old men' of Walt Disney Studios, amongst them Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, during the 1930s. Of course they weren't old men at the time, but young men who were at the forefront of exciting discoveries that were contributing to the development of a new art form. These principles came as a result of reflection about their practice and through Disney's desire to use animation to express character and personality.
This movie is my personal take on those principles, applied to simple shapes. Like a cube.
Check also the animated gif gallery here

The big lesson learnt was "fail fast & fail cheap".

When someone asked "How many principles can you combine?". Dan answered that it depends on the acting, and on the budget.

Just before lunch, he showed "The Curly Hare" animation, you can see it in 2015 showreel above.

After lunch, Dan talked about the amazing experience working with Sir Terry Pratchett on a animation called The Duel. How books are shown to be magic without any spoken words from any characters. And also note to the 12 basic principles mentioned at the beginning of the workshop are used in this short. Videos of the draft and finished work:-

THE DUEL_GIANT Animatic Draft 4_UNCUT from Giant Animation Studios on Vimeo.

An animatic for the original uncut version of The Duel that we went into production with.
The music and sfx used in this video was used for non commercial purposes.

Terry Pratchett's The Duel from Giant Animation Studios on Vimeo.

The Duel is a short film inspired by Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

The film was created and directed by Giant Animation as part of the Animation Hub, a work experience programme set up for students to work on live projects.

Directed by: Alex Sherwood, Ben Harper and Sean Mullen
Produced by: Giant Animation
Client: Animation Hub, Ballyfermot College of Further Education, Trinity College Dublin & the Irish Film Board.
Mucked about by: Terry Pratchett
Film music by: Paul Lynch of Mutiny (

The next short we watched was very different, it's less cartoony and fun, and deals with leading the viewer from one element in one scene to something else and anticipating what's going to happen next in this short thriller. Here's the trailer:-

GEIST TRAILER from Giant Animation Studios on Vimeo.

The Last Train was another short that was made as part of The Animation Hub, a new scheme set up by BCFE and Trinity college to promote working relationships between BCFE’s animation students and TCD’s computer science students.

To get outside the normative world of mainstream animation (or what we think animation is), Dan showed us a video made by David O'Reilly called "The External Word". It was premiered at the 67th Venice Film Festival and the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. He's an Irish artist living in Germany, and directed some episodes for Adventure Time.


And next it's a French animation called Clik Clak (2006).

"The eyes are the window to the soul" - Dan

Court - Click Clack from Cube Creative on Vimeo.

Réalisation: Victor Moulin

Animation for games

Giant did the animation for for StoryToys

  • Dino Dog - 3D Studio max / Unity3d (before spine)

    • 17mins of animation as well as assets
    • fraction of budget for tv animation
    • 12fps instead of 25fps
    • quick turns
    • little anticipation when picking something up/digging
    • limited faces
    • games are always work in progress; always going back on finished scenes
  • 3D game - High Tail it! - It's a platform game

    • if they did it again, not have 3D background because it took more memory

So a quick two things that are different in tv animation and games animation:

  • animation - design at the start & animatics / pre-edit how the animation will play out
  • games - only thing you can plan other than gameplay, how economic your assets are.

Q & A afterwards

Software Giant Animation uses


  • aftereffects
  • 3d studio max (windows only), will be moving to Maya in the future as it's industry requirement now
  • photoshop
    • has Timeline

Even on 2d - use above

He hates Flash (as do most of us!). :-)

Other software: Maya/Blender

TIP: Good entry to 3D - cinema4D, similar interface to Maya (grayscale gorrilla, tutorials)

Job in animation

  • Know at least photoshop
    • painting/compiling graphics
  • Aftereffects
  • Practice, know the time (e.g. bouncing ball); translate what is in your head onto the computer. Flipbooks is a good way to learn, you will find mistakes when you put them under the camera and playback.

2D software

Aside from using 3D software mentioned about, also try the following:-

Other areas in animation to look out for

Localisation of animation - e.g. Accents

Any other tips?

  • Pre-plan assets before animating the scene - character speaking
  • Library - character sheets

  • Lighting?


Industry at the moment

  • 32% tax break
  • 3rd country for animation

  • lobby for additional dev growth;

  • 2 more colleges doing animation courses; up to 12 animation courses in Ireland

It's big opportunity in all parts of the pipeline - design, composite, etc

Even if you are not a good storyteller, you can still make a good animator! :-D

I've storified the tweets from the day, you can read them here:

Dan did a quick blog about the day:

If anyone has a write-up to share, do share in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can ping me at

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  • Details:

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Ireland Girl Geek Dinners @ TBC


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