BTEC Unit 10: Animation Techniques

NQF Level 2: BTEC First

Totton College

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Aim and purpose

This unit aims to introduce learners to the practical processes of animation and to enable them to develop an understanding of historical and contemporary animation techniques. Learners will work on design, character, setting and narrative and will then focus on a specific technique for the production of an animation sequence.

Unit introduction

Animation production is a significant activity in the creative media sector, not only in high-profile television programmes such as Wallace and Gromit, but also in feature films, mobile phone content, the internet, television advertising and the computer games industry. Whilst there is still room for the traditional ‘craft’ techniques such as cel animation, computer-generated and aided animation is increasingly being used, and in ways that allow for as much creativity as traditional methods.

Learners will research the content and production techniques used in historical and contemporary examples of work. Learners will develop understanding in such things as persistence of vision, frame rates, stop-frame techniques and the production of cells. This background will inform planning and production of work using one of the traditional methods or a digital application for animation and provide a basis for exploring and experimenting with animation techniques and content.

A successful career in animation requires good visual awareness and attention to detail. It requires the ability to develop fresh ideas for content which will engage the chosen audience. A good animator will take into account at all stages the role of animation as communication, whether this be for entertainment or information. Learners should always aim to move beyond simply creating moving shapes on a screen.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit a learner should:

  1. Know about animation techniques
  2. Be able to develop ideas for an animation sequence
  3. Be able to create an animation sequence
  4. Be able to review own animation production.

Unit content

1 Know about animation techniques

Techniques: zoetrope; kinetiscope; flick book; cel animation; rotoscoping; drawn on film; digital
applications; photographic stills; claymation; stop frame

Influential animation: eg Walt Disney, Hanna Barbera, Warner Bros, Norman McLaren, Len Lye, Aardman Animations

Contemporary uses: eg music videos, advertising, television programmes, computer games, mobile phones, internet

2 Be able to develop ideas for an animation sequence

Considerations: audience; technique; style, eg straight, comic, satirical, fantasy, anime Genres: eg children’s, music video, advertisement

Generation of ideas: visualisation; characters; backgrounds; storylines; audio; working within technical limitations

Development of ideas: designs; drawings; storyboarding; consideration of movement; continuity; frames per second; perspective; soundtrack design; point of view, eg changes or extents of an action or movement

3 Be able to create an animation sequence

Pre-production: eg scripts, sketches, models, materials, storyboard, set, music, sound effects

Production: eg model making, set building, drafting, layout, point of view, key frames, copy writing, audio recording, filming

Post-production: eg editing (cuts, transitions, timing, frame numbers), special effects, sound mixing, soundtrack editing, soundtrack synchronisation

4 Be able to review own animation production

Finished product: compared with original intentions; appropriateness to audience; technical qualities;
aesthetic qualities; content; style

Production process:

  • pre-production, eg research, planning;
  • production, eg time management, project management, technical competencies, creative ability, own work, teamwork;
  • post-production, eg time management, project management, technical competencies, creative ability, own work, teamwork

Sources of information: self-evaluation; documentation, eg notes, sketches, storyboards, production logs; comments from others, eg audience, peers, tutors, client


The following websites were available at the time of going to press and the addresses were correct. —‘an electronic monthly publication devoted to the art, craft and industry of
animation, featuring intelligent news, reviews, commentary and opinion written by the
leading minds in the field today’. — the home of Wallace and Gromit, a tour of the studio and a showcase
for Aardman’s current offerings. — the company responsible for the films Monsters Inc. and Toy Story. This
site offers, amongst other things, information on the stages of production. — again offers a simple explanation of the different
roles in the making of an animation feature.

Other relevant sites can be found by using key words such as ‘animation’ or ‘cartoons’. Some of these will be commercial companies selling animation cells as artwork, but others will provide up-to-date information on practice and application in the animation industry.

Indicative reading for learners - Textbooks

Baylis P and Procter N – BTEC Level 2 First Creative Media Production, Student Book (Pearson, 2010)
ISBN 978-1846906732

Baylis P, Freedman A and Procter N – BTEC Level 2 First Creative Media Production, Teaching Resource Pack
(Pearson, 2010) ISBN 978-1846907364

Baylis P, Holmes P and Starkey G – BTEC First Media (Heinemann, 2007) ISBN 978-0435464707

Bendazzi G – Cartoons: One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation (John Libbey, 1995) ISBN 978-0861964454

Culhane S – Animation: From Script to Screen (Columbus Books, 1990) ISBN 978-0312050526

Grant J – Masters of Animation (Batsford, 2001) ISBN 978-0713486287

Hall K and Holmes P – BTEC First in Media: A Practical Handbook (Edexcel, 2007) ISBN 978-1846901980

Lord P – Cracking Animation: The Aardman Book of 3-D Animation (Thames & Hudson, 2004)
ISBN 978-050051190X

McFarlane T and Beck J – Outlaw Animation: Cutting-edge Cartoons from the Spike and Mike Festivals
(Harry N Abrams, 2003) ISBN 978-0810991519

Noake R – Animation: The Guide to Animated Film Techniques (McDonald and Co, 1988)
ISBN 978-0356158721

Priebe K – The Art of Stop-Motion Animation (Delmar, 2006) ISBN 978-1598632442

Shaw S – Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation (Focal Press, 2008) ISBN 978-0240520556

Wells P – Understanding Animation (Routledge, 1998) ISBN 978-0415115973

White T – Animation from Pencils to Pixels (Focal Press, 2006) 9780-240806709

White T – The Animator’s Workbook (Watson Guptill Publications, 1988) ISBN 978-0823002292

Wiedemann J – Animation Now! (Taschen, 2007) ISBN 978-382283789X

Williams R – The Animator’s Survival Kit (Faber & Faber, 2002) ISBN 978-0571202284

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