Story Structure for Animation
01 What is a Story?
July 30th, 6 pm - 9 pm
Introductory overview. “What is a Story.” Intention and Obstacle. Genre. What differentiates a
story from a plot? Core Structure for short form. What is the difference between a story and a
situation? Turning abstract ideas into playable behavior. Temporal dimensions of film - Acts,
Sequences, Scene, Beats. Understanding story values. Lateral Thinking.
We will screen Pixar’s Piper and Disney’s Paperman. Followed by an analysis. These
foundational tools from the workshop will help the student to use in the development of their
own short animated projects.
02 Three- Act Structure. Character-in-action. Spine. Theme.
August 6th, 6 pm - 9 pm
All roads lead to Aristotle’s Poetics. Define story terms and create a thorough foundational
analysis of three-act structure and how it impacts character development, theme. How
structure creates a multilayered story. The six essential questions. Visceral storytelling: or how
to light up an audience’s brain. Step-Outlines, Beat Sheets and Loglines.
View: A opening clip from On the Waterfront. Opening from Up
03 Character Arcs, Backstory, Subtext.
August 13th, 6 pm - 9 pm
The inner story - discovering your protagonists “wound.” What is the story behind the story?
Understand the importance of creating a heartfelt backstory. Focus on the Mid-point.
Orchestrating a character arc throughout three acts - journey and transformation.
04 Scene Structure. Dramatic Irony
August 20th, 6 pm – 9 pm
Four essential kinds of conflict. Set-ups and Pay-offs. Turning points within a scene. Why Drama
is Anticipation mingled with Uncertainty. Conflict within a scene. Every scene needs a question.
Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
Dramatic Irony : Viewing a clip from Mulan.
05 Third Acts and Powerful Endings.
August 27th, 6 pm – 9 pm
Further analysis of the Obligatory scene, How Crisis Impacts Exterior, Interior Stakes and
Theme. Apparent Defeat, The Decisive Moment, Climax, Resolution - Denouement. The Moral
Order in a story.
Wrap- up and concluding observations about stories.
Screening the Third Act from On the Waterfront. Screening Act Three from UP.