People We Know

People We Know, Animafest Scanner, Zagreb 2017


‘I think you have to know these fellows definitely before you can draw them.’

Walt Disney

While observational drawing of people is an essential part of the animation filmmaking process, the accurate interpretation of personalities is a far more vital part of the process of creating believable characters and convincing narratives. People We Know is series of three animation projects that has been designed to embed this learning as part of the animator’s education at BA Honours level. An education in animation filmmaking requires students to maintain an ongoing practice of observation, recording and reflection, which is appropriately guided. The learning and teaching design in the People We Know project has been informed by constitutional, cognitive and developmental psychology, in order to provide appropriate tools for both the students and animation staff to accurately reflect on the observations and recordings. The first two projects introduce students to character design. Students are required to select friends and family as subjects.

Drawing from found and documented material, the outcomes of the first two projects include fictional and non-fictional narratives, as anecdotal comic strips, pieces of writing, as well as traditional character design outputs such as model sheets and expression sheets to illustrate aspects of the selected subject’s personalities. Feeding forward learning from the first two projects, the third project entails observation and recording members of the local community to edit and shape animated documentaries to illustrate specific aspects of the selected people’s personalities. By comparing examples of student work produced through the three projects, this paper proposes to examine the effectiveness of the design and delivery of learning materials, and tools for assessment, in enabling students to create believable characters and convincing narratives.