MW-Comm Blog

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Module Five

Animated Storytelling Chapter Summary

The following is a summary of chapter eight of Liz Blazer’s book, Animated Storytelling:


Selecting the right animation technique is essential to expressing your story.

Finding a Perfect Match


Your first consideration when picking an animation technique should be format; how is your project going to be viewed (e.g., smartphones or TVs).

Translate Your Story

You want to choose tools that best facilitate your message and tone.

Animation Techniques & Styles

  • Hand-drawn: looser style lends itself to expressive, emotionally driven stories. Cell animation can achieve a clean, commercial feel that works well for children’s entertainment.
  • Stop-motion: the limited motion gives stop-motion films a quirky and magical quality
    • 2D has a lot of “personality” and works for a hand-made feel.
    • 3D can feel “naturalistic,” but tends to have “humorous or metaphoric” effect.
  • 2D CGI is created in a “flat” or two-dimensional software environment, and it tends to feel warmer or more innocent than 3D.
  • 3D CGI is created in a three-dimensional software environment. 3D is similar to stop-motion but with no gravity and virtually no limitations. 3D allows for environments that are almost indecipherable from real life.

 Conform or Adapt

Once you’ve selected the technique for your animation, seek inspiration, look at what others have done. First, identify the defining characteristics of the technique you have chosen and see if there is a way to replicate it in your favorite medium.


  1. Import still images
  2. Shoot live-action footage
  3. Staff up (outsource it)

Research to Inform


Goofy landing splat on the pitcher’s mound is an example of squash and stretch and anticipation, he winds up like he’s going to throw the ball but instead takes flight like a helicopter. The entire short seems to be an example of exaggeration, but Goofy twisting like a pretzel when he swings that bat is particularly good. There’s also a nice example of squash and stretch when the ball spits in the batting Goofy’s face.

This Terrytoon short, The Talking Magpies, has many good examples of staging. Here a Magpie is seen in the window next to a radio. It is obvious that the magpie is going to do something with the radio. Time link here.

The wolf dressed as little bo-peep, in the Mighty Mouse short, is an example of Follow Through and Overlapping Action and in the sheep frolicking, noticeable particularly in the tails and ears of the sheep and the wolf’s tail and curls. Time link here.

In this Winnie the Pooh short, Tigger’s Balloon. Tigger’s leaping and jumping is a good example of both arc and anticipation. Tigger’s movement is fluid and follows a natural trajectory, and Pooh’s movements, particularly in the shot where he’s holding the balloon, are an example of secondary action because Tigger’s actions is the primary action of the shot.

 This clip from Futurama is a good example of appeal: Fry looks disheveled with noticeable bags under his eyes as he confronts Shawn, and it’s another good example of secondary action as Fry cowers at the end when Shawn is about to hit him with a saxophone.


I like my logo and spent countless hours working on it, so I had no inclination to use a different logo for this animation; however, I was limited to what I could animate with a two-letter logo. I decided having the ‘m’ and ‘w’ flying into place was a nice but a little boring, so I added a quick dissolve and a spin at the end. I used three sound effects: a swoosh for each letter, a saw buzz for the dissolve, and a spinning noise at the end.