Animation as a Storytelling Device

Animation Styles | Lessons 1-2 | Lesson 2-3 | Decision Time:Animation Styles | Lesson 4 | Lessons 5-10 | Lessons 11-14 During this project you will focus on using animation as an effective storytelling device in a digital video of a topic of your choice.

You will have been put into groups of 3 for this project by your teacher. You will have the opportunity to perform different jobs during the course of this project. These are: Director, Camera Operator, Animator, Sound Editor and Video Editor.

Please click here to find out more about each job.

Each group will choose one topic from the list of School Themes and will produce a short video no longer than 2 minutes of length. In fact, animation is so work intensive we will be pleasantly surprised if anyone reaches the 2 minute mark!

Here is the rubric that will be used to grade this piece of work.
Here is the Timeline for the ProjectScreen Shot 2016-02-13 at 12.49.12 PM.png

View some of the Animations from last school year.

Animation is very work intensive and it is easy to 'bite more than you can chew'. The storyboard is your plan. It is important and we will try to stick to it as closely as possible.

Your group video may contain one long scene or several short scenes. These scenes can contain stills and/or regular video.*

The style of animations to choose from are: clay animation, paper-cut-outs/puppets animation, pixilation (sequential pictures), and digital drawings.

Animation Styles




Lessons 1-2


The planning stage is very important for the success of a story. You must think about if and how you will organise the story into different scenes.

It is very important to write a short script which describes what your story is about. This should be one to three paragraphs long.

We will then break up these paragraphs into different scenes as needed.You will write your script in a Google Doc,

Here are some example scripts:

(1) While Jack and Jill were playing soccer outside during break time, Jill noticed that Jack accidentally dropped a dollar bill from his pocket, without him knowing.
As Jill picked up the dollar she pondered whether she should keep it, or if she should return it to Jack, who would certainly miss it, once he noticed it was gone.
Jill decided to do what an ethical and responsible student would do: she called Jack and told him "you dropped this so be careful, next time keep it somewhere safe."
Jack was so happy he didn't lose his dollar, he invited Jill to eat a popsicle with him.

(2) Hanzel and Gretyl had been studying all afternoon for a big exam the next day at school. They read all the books, did all the exercises and still they had not fully understood how to solve some of the problems. They felt scared they might fail the exam, and they were tired of studying so much. They were about to give up when their friend Jake showed up to help them study. Jake saw how desperate Hanzel and Gretyl felt, so he made his best effort to be an enthusiastic team player. He helped them understand all the problems they hadn't solved, giving them all renewed confidence for the exam.

(3) Tommy's parents have just bought him a trampoline for his birthday. To celebrate, Tommy invited his classmates over to his house, so they could all try out the new trampoline. Everyone had their chance to jump, however Tommy was so excited that he didn't want to get off when other people got on. This was a problem because two people jumping at the same time could get hurt! Tommy's best friend Maurice asked him if he could be a team player and let his friends jump for a while. Tommy reflected on his idea, and he knew his friends would respect him more if he was considerate, so he let everyone jump as long as they wanted!

Notice that the story is straightforward and simple and presents us with situation involving several traits or values. You don't want to overburden yourself with a complicated storyline and too many characters. Can you identify the trait or value you have chosen in the story? Have another group read through it and see if they are able to identify it. Your storyboard should be clear enough to let the reader know what the animation is about, without having to read it alongside the script.

For the remainder of the lesson your group will work on the script for the story.

Lesson 2-3


You will be provided with as many storyboard template sheets as you need to plan out your scenes. This time we will try to draw and sketch our storyboards with rough, pencil drawings. The idea is NOT to be neat, but to do a rough sketch which will get you to think about:
  • camera movements
  • angles
  • montages
  • ideas for sound and lighting
  • and any pictures you might want to use.

Add interesting dialogue for the characters and text for subtitles. You will want to plan your shots, angles, montages, stills and camera movement when working on your storyboard.

Watch the segments of this video to better understand shots, angles and camera movement.

Here is an example of the blank storyboard you will be using.

Below you will see an example made by Mr. Alfaro for his Jack & Jill story:


The storyboard is a very important tool to help you organize your ideas, and the more time you invest on it, the less time you will waste when actually filming your video. It doesn't need to be pretty, it is meant to be used as a visual reference so everyone in your group knows what is going on, who is going on, and when they're going on. Try to make it simple, not convoluted. This way, there is no chance for the audience to get confused with too much happening on the screen.

Here is a link to our new digital storyboard template.

Decision Time:Animation Styles

Next, you must decide which animation technique you would like to use: (Clay animation, Paper Cut-Out animation, Pixilation (sequential pictures) or digital drawings. (Have another look at the videos we showed you in the first lesson.

You will be assisted and advised by by your teachers when making this decision, once your storyboard is done. PLEASE consult with your teacher before you make up your mind about the animation style for your video. It is possible to combine two or more animation styles, however please be warned that this might mean additional work and effort from your team. Nevertheless, if you plan things out well in advance, a variety of styles can create a powerful combination of effective storytelling.

Lesson 4

In this lesson, we will briefly go through an overview of the process of animating our short film. We will explain how one goes about setting everything up for animation. We can and will be using iStopMotion as well as iMovie, Green Screen by DoInk, and the iPads. We will then learn how to put these stills into iMovie, so we can edit them together and compile our scenes. The remainder of the lesson after this demo will be used to work on our animation props, whether they are clay dolls, paper cut outs, backgrounds, props or drawings.

Instructions for Paper/Collage Cut-Out Animation

Lessons 5-10


You must have all your animation props ready for production time. All the members of your production crew must be aware of the role they are responsible for and should work towards a common goal. Gather your crew and all your shooting equipment. With the master script/storyboard in hand, head to the shooting location,
where you will be assisted and supervised. MAKE SURE you have at least 2 takes of each scene. This way, you can choose the best take when editing.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.04.11 PM.png

Production Crews are expected to use Green Screen time efficiently, so everyone gets a chance to use them.

  • You will need your group bin containing your props.
  • Each group will have access to the animation bench and gorilla tripods for iPads, as well as the large green and blue screens in the studio if needed.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.14.36 PM.png

If a Production Crew finishes filming the scenes before Lesson 7, they can start working on the sound and video editing or improve on their animation scenes.

Time is of the essence while in production! Work cooperatively and make compromises when your Crew has different opinions! If work is slowed down because of group arguments, you will be obligated to cast a vote on the issue. .

During Production Time, you will be stopped and asked to either email or UPLOAD any your recorded footage to Google Drive, 10 minutes before the end of the lesson.

Please do enjoy the production, it will show off in the final video if you do.

Lessons 11-14

Post Production

There will be changes in individual responsibilities when we reach this stage. The positions available will be:

Editors: The editors will import and manipulate all recorded video and pictures and arrange them in scenes within iMovie. They will need to work alongside the sound producers and assist each other.
Sound Mixers: The sound mixers work alongside the editors, looking up or recording appropriate audio and video within iMovie, Garageband or the Internet, so this can be combined with the editor’s output.
Everyone in the the group will be expected perform each role at one point during post production.

You will have access to Recording Studios A & B during these lessons, in case you need a quiet environment to record a narration.

Production Crews are expected to use Recording Studio time efficiently, so everyone gets a chance to use them.

Please click here to access the the instructions for these final lessons.

This would be an excellent time to check your work agains the rubric again.

Screenings: Final Lesson.

This lesson will be used to watch and review each Production Crew's work. The whole class will get a chance to review and constructively criticise the short films. You have now completed your first animation! This is a big milestone in your film-making career! Even though the video is short, you now have first-hand experience with the exciting possibilities of animation.