Animation : Animated Pilot by Rich Martin

Rich Martin

Animated Pilot

Hello 32ers! I was looking for some advice. I am more of a writer than an animator but my heart lies with animation. I wanted to try to do my own pilot cartoon comedy (15-20 mins) and I'm not sure where to start. Can anyone recommend software or whatever would be the best means to get this ball rolling? Thanks! -Rich

John Lane

Take a look at the storyboard apps over at Toonboom. You can do shot layouts complete with camera moves, without a huge learning curve. The top end version even works with 3D. These motion storyboards will be as important as anything else in the entire production, and they need to be one of the things that happen first.

James Saunders

Honestly dude just concentrate on writing, the hart of any good animation (like any good film)is the writing. As for storyboarding, just do it by hand to start, nothing will be easier for you to get it to a point that you can sell. Check out this making of Samurai Jack short. I saw it years ago and it is still increadabaly inspiring for animation pre production: Samurai Jack - The Making Of:

John Lane

James, when I read your post I was thinking of how some old school directors (like Miyazaki) develop projects by primarily doing massive amounts of their own boards. In the clip you just posted a link to, the storyboard artists are talking about how they don't have as much of a script as they just storyboard everything first. If someone has a lot of experience, they can show all the camera moves on paper. However, if someone who's not an old pro wants to figure our their scene layout, pans and trucks, Storyboard or even any old license of After Effects (with a virtual camera) will help visualize scenes - build an animatic. Of course a script is extremely important, but it appears to be a personal choice as to what comes first, boards or writing.

Katherine Blakeney

I think that if you are just in the process of developing your idea it may be good to go old-school instead of distracting yourself by learning new software. When I am working on a new film I tend to start with a rough, handwritten outline and then try to expand that into a very roughly sketched storyboard to get my thoughts and images on paper. Just doing that will give you some material to think over and can point out some areas of the story that you need to polish or modify.

Georgia Hilton

storyboards and an animatic is a great place to start on the path to animating a film.

James Saunders

I think I accidentally hit a nerve (apologies I'm a notorious comment troll who is trying to reform) what I meant was more or less what Katherine said about not wasting time learning a software if you already have traditional tools at your disposal. Do you think in the DVD extras they are going to show some one typing out a story outline to take to the storyboard artists? Don't try to be a super hero, be your self, hone the tools that you have to perfection and it will help you to attract talent to fill in the holes. How you create does not matter, the story is the end product, and your story needs to be concrete. This is what I meant about "writing " being the most important part.

Rich Martin

I appreciate everyone's feedback here. I'm relatively new to all these things. Writing is something that I do in my free time with hopes that something takes a hold. Therefore my creative process, I guess, tends to be a little more unorthodox than most. I tend to strive more when I have a basic overall premise and then just make stuff up as I go along and obviously edit and polish the story later. I feel like my use of animation software would be the same. With all that being said, I like the idea of playing with some software to help my visuals and as was suggested, if it slows me down, I can always back track. Thanks a ton everyone!

David Arandle

If you really want to also play around with animation software what you choose depends on your skill level as an artist. is really good if you have no drawing skill at all and need to rely on a library of content. If you want something that will give you plenty of flexibility and a choice to use existing content or your own artwork then CrazyTalk Animator 2 or Anime Studio Pro are both relatively inexpensive and not too hard to learn. If you want to use 3D rather than 2D animation then look up iClone (made by the same people who made CrazyTalk Animator).

Grace Dimaranan

Hello Rich, if you have your script & story ready. have it done in storyboard first, and have your character designs ready. In this way, you can see visuals of the pacing, and how "funny" & engaging your story goes. ( since its a cartoon comedy ). It also saves you budget before you go into production. You can improve this storyboard all over to get the right direction you want. After you approve of this storyboard, that's the time you worry about the next step - Animation. And believe me, there are a LOT of choices of what kind of animation style you want this to be and the software you want to use will be based from what animation output style you choose :-) -- Grace Dimaranan , Managing Director of

Joseph Okojie

I'm working on animated comedy for kids, but I'm a writer at heart... So I've written several full episodes and I'm animating a short episode I wrote to get some feedback. I think this is a solid way to go about it.

Nicholas Boughen

Here's an analogy of what you have requested: "Hi, I'm a draftsman but I'd really love to build my own house. I've never built a house before and I'm not trained in construction. Can someone recommend a good hammer to get me started?" This is an interesting topic. But let's be clear, if you're a writer and you want to tell your story visually, having "animation" skills is not what is really important. You need visual story telling skills above all else. In other words, study cinematography. Learn to tell your word story with pictures. If you are not a trained visual artist and/or a trained cinematographer, you need to fill those skills gaps somehow, either by acquiring them yourself or by finding others who have those skills to help interpret the story into images. Otherwise you will be wasting a good deal of time and effort. Not being an animator simply means that you will need to find animators to do the animation. Animation is a high skill that takes a lifetime to develop to mastery. It's not something you pick up with a couple of online courses. Want to create great visual stories? Start here: and Here's a litmus test for you. If, having read this, it sounds like too much work, you should probably consider doing something else. To be successful creating animation, you need to love it enough to take on hard work, study and practice with great enthusiasm. If, on the other hand, this posting excites and enthuses you, then you're on the right track. Good Luck.

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