Michigan Animation Club

Naveen Sabharwal, College of Engineering

Animation is the conglomeration of a multitude of skills. It is amazing to think about all the thought and knowledge needed to produce a piece of drawn movement. Within just arts, knowledge of perspective, anatomy, staging, color composition, pacing and timing, and general appeal are some of the considerations any animator has to deal with. Within science, an understanding of the world, the anatomy of a human or an animal, the physics of water, wind, and fire, the chemistry of an explosion, or the mechanics of machinery, are all necessary to produce a functional depiction of reality. Animation is also storytelling, so knowledge of language, history, culture, religion, politics, sociology are necessary to bring empathy into the medium, from the structure of the world to the tiny gestures of individuals. And finally, in our modern world, technology plays an important role in animation production and learning how to use that technology, whether it be drawing tools such as photoshop or 3D modeling and simulation software such as blender, those skills are needed to be an animator with a viable chance of breaking into the industry. And this interdisciplinary nature of animation is completely reflected in the makeup of our club’s membership which comprises of artist and designers from Stamps; film, english, and humanities students from LSA; actors, voice actors, musicians, and audio engineers from SMTD; and 3D modelers, physics simulators, UI/UX designers, and VR/AR creators from the College of Engineering. In the past, we have focused on having our members develop their individual skills, and our previous semester’s reanimate project, where each member made a clip individually, is a perfect example of that. This semester, we are going to push for the creation of a project as a group, simulating a much more realistic and professional animation creation pipeline. We will take our members through the full process of storyboarding, character design, key animation, background animation, and compositing. And we will have them work with each other to stay on style and have each other’s efforts compound rather than clash. One all too common story you hear from students at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design is that they came to the school, excited to learn the skills needed to break into the entertainment industry, only to realize that Stamps doesn’t have a curriculum built to feed people into that industry. The few animation classes in the school largely focus on teaching students neat tricks with AfterEffects which can be useful for creating ads or going into a graphic design field. The Michigan Animation Club is the only institution in this University that has the goal of providing students with the skills and portfolio pieces to make them competitive in the entertainment industry.