The multimedia developers at Ecampus have the tools and experience to quickly generate cartoons for your course, illustrating hard to describe (or photograph) concepts with a dash of charm. Here are three recent examples of the quick cartoons we can make – each completed in about a week – with some insights into the development process.

A couple months before the term started, we met with a teacher who wanted to illustrate some specifics of honey bee behavior. He came in for a 1 hour meeting with our small animation team, to explain the processes and answer our questions. We took notes, and I ended up writing four short scripts for his approval (which I sent to him by email a few days later). That casual meeting was really all the instructor had to do!

We have one full time employee (me) and three part time student workers who are skilled in animation. We decided to tackle each script in the order that the instructor would use them during class (He knew which weeks each concept would be covered. We could plan that the first cartoon would be due the Friday before the first week of the term, while the final cartoon wasn’t needed until just before the 4th week started). Since these animations are considered optional course content, we can work on them right up until the Friday before the week in which they will appear.

Our sound booth was booked, so I found a quiet room down the hall and quickly recorded the scripts (with a Blue Nessie), and edited out the room noise in Adobe Audition. So in less than a week since our first meeting, we had scripts and audio to work with. And here’s what we came up with:

1. Made with Photoshop (and Final Cut)
eggs (feeding baby) SBFor this video, our student worker Lilly drew up some storyboards with her Cintiq 12wx (click the thumbnail at right, for the full size story boards). Then over about a week of part time work, she drew dozens of high quality full color images. Finally, in a single day she combined all the drawings in Final Cut, and stretched each image to synchronize with the audio.

2. Made with Flash
beesketches1For this video, I broke the audio file into 12 parts, and sketched out quick ideas for each section (see a photo of these quick pencils at right). Then I jumped into Adobe Flash and started drawing final frames with my Cintiq 21UX. After 2 days I had a usable cartoon, and then I took another 3 days to add little flourishes and polish. My work was also sort of part time, since I’m also working on other projects, going to meetings, and helping guide the student workers. Once it was done, I exported a quicktime and uploaded it to youtube.

3. Made with a mix of everything
For this final view, Lilly drew some key moments directly in Flash, and I took her files and animated the drawings (and gave back some rough drawings which she then polished). Also, our 3D animators Calvin and Seth worked up the shot where a 3D swarm travels from hive to branch using Maya. This portion was the most time consuming, and went through half a dozen iterations (which you can peruse on our youtube channel) . Everything was assembled in Adobe Premiere, and exported for youtube.

4. Bonus : an unfinished rough animatic
The final video isn’t complete yet, but here is a quick rough animation that I put together in an afternoon. The idea was that I could share this with my team, so they could have exact timing for 3D animations – or the concepts for higher quality color drawings. (at one point you’ll note a full color background image. This was taken from a “hive opening” video that Seth had already mocked up. Calvin also mocked up a more detailed bee). If an instructor wanted to be involved in the animation process, we could share this with them for feedback. Since it took less than a day to get to this point, it might be ideal to get feedback on the direction we’re going, before we put in the majority of our time into the polished final shots.

So, in the end it took roughly one to two weeks to make each of these videos. Is there a cartoon that you’d like to have, 2 weeks from now, for your course?

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