At the start of spring semester, I chose to use my capstone project as a way to help spread awareness of stress, explain how it affects us, and offer a variety of techniques to help people better manage it. The reason why I chose to focus on stress specifically was because I used to have trouble managing my own stress and had to seek professional help because of how I was feeling, so I wanted my capstone project to appeal to younger audiences like elementary school kids as I wanted to instill in them healthy behaviors on handling stress so that they could better handle it when they became older. With this all in mind, I initially wanted to convey information about stress through a thematic narrative with a positive, fun, and approachable tone via a designed display with stickers, booklets, and buttons so that I could grab my younger audiences’ attention with my space, keep them engaged with my content, and then finally help them remember what they learned from going through my space by giving them souvenirs.
Due to the circumstances caused by COVID-19, a physical display was no longer a viable solution as our capstone project now had to be digital friendly. Unable to make my initial plan viable under these new circumstances, I decided to alter my approach to my capstone project with the time I had left. So instead of my capstone project helping younger audiences identify, understand, and manage stress via a physical display with additional materials, I instead decided to narrow my scope and help teach my younger audience about ways to better handle stress via a narrative told through 2-D animation as the medium is known to be digital friendly, an effective way to communicate, and to also resonate with younger audiences.
In order for me to complete my animation, I had to complete the following steps:
I took notes relating to stress identification, explanation, and management for my initial plan until I had to alter it which then forced me to cut down on the content I was planning to use. The primary information used in my capstone project came from the source listed below:
Robinson, Lawrence, et al. “Stress Management.” HelpGuide.org, 16 Apr. 2020, www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm
When it came to ideation, I initially sketched out characters related to a theme and premise that was going to be meant for my display space and to also appeal to my target audience, and with my altered plan I had little time left to create an entirely new and different premise. Thus, the sketches on display here show visual variations of two principle characters that star in the animation as I was trying to find a style that felt appropriate for my target audience and intentions
When it came to scripting, I wrote three drafts to help outline the dialogue and visuals of the animation while trying to find an appropriate running time for the animation. The final draft has a total of 10 scenes with dialogue and visuals written for each scene in this fashion:
The dialogue was meant to align with the written visuals as those same visuals are then used to provide clear image sequences to assist with storyboarding. Additionally, the dialogue was also timed to help estimate the general length of the animation.
As for storyboarding, I used note cards, marker pens, a light table, and Photoshop to create, organize, and markup storyboard panels with shot acronyms, scene and panel numbers, and action directions to later be used in the animatic.
When it came to recording dialogue, me and my younger brothers Aaron and Ben provided the voices for the characters as I used Audacity to help capture and edit our voices for each appropriate scene.
I also went to royalty free sites like Freesound.org and YouTube studio to find sound effects and music, such as “Fall Colors” by Ann Annie and “Becoming” by Jade Wii, for my animation.
With my storyboard and audio now in hand, I went on After Effects and edited together a rough animatic as a proof-of-concept for my capstone project with the time I had left.
Unfortunately, I was unable to fully realize my capstone project before the release of this site because I was having difficulty adjusting to working on my capstone project off-campus as responsibilities related to other classes and outside of those classes consumed the limited amount of time I had post alteration. However, there were challenges I was able to overcome from working on my capstone project such as storyboarding which would have taken longer if I hadn’t found shortcuts to exploit and save time on, and the difficulty I experienced writing and committing to a script which I overcame through seeking feedback and keeping the narrative simple.
The next steps I would have taken to complete this project were to go into Illustrator to create vectors of the characters and setting and then take and use those vectors in After Effects for animating and editing. While I was unable to fully complete this animation for this site, there was a lot I learned from this experience. For example, I learned that there is more terminology, techniques, and greater complexity to storyboarding that I should consider when storyboarding in the future, and I also learned that I should find shortcuts where I can and take them to save up on time. However the most important takeaway I came with from working on this project is that the next time I brainstorm ideas for a project, I should start small and work my way up instead of thinking big and downsizing when needed as doing the former is easier than the latter.