Multi-Genre Project

Claire Jordan


What lies ahead may change your life forever. Or, it might bore you to death. But what it did for me is unspeakable. Below, I am going to explain to you the difficult, hard trek that is taken in order to create an animated film. I will walk you through each step, explaining to you how long it takes, how many people are involved in it, etc. In the end, I want you to know that this is my passion. Whether this project will change your view on animated movies forever or make you want to never see one again, this is my dream.



1. Screenplay


2. Storyboards

-visual blueprint

3. Layout

-locations and costumes

4. Model Sheets

-poses and expressions of each character

5. Modeling Department

-edits and publishes the final character models



6. Layout artists

-create a 3D version of the Storyboard

-use blocks or models of the characters and background to take 3D pictures of each shot

7. Modeling

- 1st department: modelers who specialize in characters and other freeform surfaces

-2nd department: industrialized and architectural structures such as weapons, armor, vehicles, and buildings

-take 3D version of movie and put it into the computer

8. Visual Effects Supervisors and Animation Supervisors

-create high res 3D models of the characters on the computer

-final step using the model sheets

9. Technical Animators

-place a skeleton into the model

-cover it with "skin"

10. Modeling

-continue to sculpt facial expressions and any specific muscle movements into character designs

11. Texture Department

-works with the Surfacing and Shading Departments

-creates different textures from scratch, using the concept art created by the Art Department as a guide

-created in a sort of map

12. Lighting Department

-applies light to each shot

-defines how light reacts and interacts with different elements and props

-sets the ‘mood’ of the movie

13. Rigging Department

-the central animation process

-adds ‘bones’ to each figure in the movie

-establishes the movements of each object/character (such as clenching their fist or bending their arm)

-makes a characters’ costume move in a believable manner

14. Animation

-key process in the making of an animated movie

-Animators put together frame by frame shots, which animates them

-eyes and hands are also enhanced to look real

-Effects Team also produces elements like smoke, water, dust, explosions, etc.



15. Compositing

-brings together all 3D elements of the movie and adds them to the final product

16. Sound Editing

-adds in characters’ voices, the final sound effects, and background music

17. Video Editing

-rearranges shots to create a seamless final product

-any unwanted or unneeded shots are removed

-adds any more effects and/or title shots to the final product

3 Elements

Expository Essay

The creation of each animated movie is a very long process. In order for an animated movie to be successful, a crew of hard working, talented people from all over the country must carry out each step using their incredible skills and sheer talent.

The first step to making an animated movie is Storyboarding. Although Storyboarding is considered pre-production, it is a key element in the making of an animated movie. Storyboard Artists need strong craftsmanship skills and must be quick thinkers, able to visualize what's happening in their head and draw it on paper. Usually only six storyboard artists are needed for a single movie, but more may be needed at a movie’s busiest point. Storyboard Artists take the Screenplay, written by screenwriters, and sketch out what they think the scene would look like. They sketch thousands of boards, each one acting as a visual blueprint for the movie. These sketches are put side by side in a comic book-like form. Without this step, it would be much more difficult to create the movie, which means it would take a lot longer and cost much more.

The storyboarding process starts in pre-production but can go on until there are still scenes with changes, which could be a few months before the movie is released.

Journal Entry

May 20, 2013

Dear Journal,

I just got back from work. Yesterday I told you about the new movie we are starting to work on, How to Train Your Dragon 2. I loved the first one, so I have a feeling this one is going to be even better.

Yesterday, Mr. Sanders, our Director, talked to my team and I about what he wanted us to work on. Because the movie is still in the Pre-Production stage, the movie itself is still kind of a blurr. Because of this, we were asked to go ahead and start creating concept art of where the movie would be located, and what the surroundings would look like.

Today, I started a new painting of an older Hiccup riding Toothless across the deep blue ocean. You can see Berk, their home, far off in the distance.

Because I'm a Visual Developement Artist, I don't necessarily work on the details and specifics of the movie. My job is to just develop the look and feel of the movie. I would normally do my paintings and other works in Photoshop, but because the movie is still in Pre-Production, we don't quite have a grasp of what type of animation is going to be used and what it's going to look like overall.

Tomorrow I will probably finish my painting and start on a new one. I have a few ideas that incorporate some of Hiccup's friends that I could use. I better get some sleep; I have a very busy week ahead of me!


Research Connections

Element #1-Expository Essay

My Expository Essay explains the second step to making a movie: Storyboarding. It incorporates my research by explaining in depth what happens during the process and how it effects the movie as a whole. It talks about how Storyboards are a major element in making the movie, and how the movie would be much harder and more expensive to make without them. In my Expository Essay, it states, " a key element in the making of an animated movie.” This information is helpful to the reader because it tells them how important this step is to the process of making an animated movie. In my research, it says, “The Storyboard helps to finalize the development of the storyline, and is an essential stage of the animation process.” (Step-by-Step: How to Make an Animated Movie). This research is part of my Expository Essay because it provides the reader with a good, solid definition of a Storyboard.

Element #2-Journal Entry

My Journal Entry is written from the point of view of a Visual Development Artist named Scott. He talks about what his job is at DreamWorks and what he is working on right now. In the third paragraph, he writes, "My job is to just develop the look and feel of the movie." Scott talks about how his job is so different from the others’ because all he does is create very vague drawings and paintings of the layouts and scenes of the movie rather than focusing in on specific elements. This helps the reader have a better understanding about what a Visual Development artist does. Part of my research says, “Visual development artists design and develop the look and feel of...animations...” (Visual Development Artist). This specific part of my research gives a proper definition to what a Visual Development artist is meant to do and what they add to the process of making an animated film.

Element #3-Drawing/Visual Element

My last element is a drawing that combines most of the steps to making an animated film. It is a drawing of a scene from the movie How to Train Your Dragon where Toothless is sitting across from Hiccup, waiting for him to try the fish he had given him. I split up the paper vertically into 8 equal sections, each section highlighting one step that is used in the making of an animated film. My audience will learn more from this visual because they will be able to see an example of what each step looks like and be able to visualize how important each step is. In order to draw each step correctly, I used the book The Art of Rise of the Guardians. This book contains lots of useful information about each step, as well as a chart with examples of what each step looks like. In the book, it says, “The… movie required a unique approach in which early and intensive collaboration was a must between all departments...” (Zahed, 79). This reminded me that all the elements need to complement each other and be able to work off of one another.

Works Cited

Article: Gulati, Pratik. "Step-by-Step : How to Make an Animated Movie." 3D, Maya, Blender and more tutorials from beginner to advanced | Cgtuts+. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2013. <>.

Website: "Visual Development Artist - Career Profile | Animation Career Review."Animation School, College & Program Profiles and Animation Career, Salary & Employment Statistics | N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2013. <>.

Primary Source (Interview): MacLeod, Stephen. “How is an animated movie made?.” Personal Interview. 12 Mar. 2013.

Book: Zahed, Ramin. The Art of DreamWorks Rise of the Guardians. San Rafael, Calif.: Insight Editions, 2012. Print.