Category: animation

Funan scene grab

Intro to Global Animation Syllabus

This semester I am revamping my Intro to Global Animation syllabus. I decided to reduce the reading load because I want students to have more time in practice-based activities. This is also the first time I will try to use a professional stop motion animation software, Dragonframe, for their animation project. Hopefully it will go smoothly.

I also would like to credit Mihaela Mihailova’s “An Anti-Racist Animation Syllabus” for listing animated features and shorts with protagonists of color and/or directed by PoC. Many of the films I use in my course are selected from her list.

Below is my updated syllabus. Leave comments if you have any suggestions as I may still be able to change some of the contents of the course schedule.

Course Description

This course will start with a series of questions:

  • What is animation?
  • How can we discuss animation as an artistic medium and as a cultural expression?
  • How can we understand the global history of animation and its connection to contemporary society?

To answer these questions, we will explore the production, distribution, and consumption of animation as a global phenomenon. Throughout the course, we will consider how animation is a distinctive form of expression within moving-image practice and created in many diverse forms and techniques; how local, national, and transnational contexts contribute to its extensive history worldwide; and how it has become a versatile medium for social, cultural, and political expressions. We will also consider the role of new technologies in the development of animation beyond filmic space (e.g. video games). Through the integration of basic animation production-based exercises (e.g. plasticine, cut-out, pixilation, and hand-drawn animation), visual analyses, and writing assignments, this course will help to cement insights gained through close investigation of various animated media productions. While this course substantially focuses on the practice of animation, no technical knowledge about it is required.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the semester, students will have developed:

  • The knowledge of key animation vocabularies, theories, and techniques within their global, social, cultural, and historical contexts.
  • The ability to apply their knowledge critically and creatively in basic animation production skills, both individually or in collaboration with other student scholars
  • The proficiency in analyzing animation critically in both visual and written formats.
  • The ability to conduct animation studies research using appropriate research strategies
  • The ability to reflect on the interrelationships between their personal encounters with animated media and the global complexity of animation cultures

Evaluation Components

  • Preparation and Participation (10%)
  • Discussion leader (10%)
  • Animation exercises (20%)
  • Animation analysis (10%)
  • Animation festival assignment (10%)
  • Individual animation project (20%)
  • Collaborative animation project (20%)

Course Requirements and Responsibilities

Preparation and Participation (10%):

Class participation is an important element in this course. You will be expected to make quality contribution to class discussion and other aspects of the course. I like to think of our class as a laboratory where we test ideas, take intellectual chances, push ourselves and each other, and support one another as we learn.

You are expected to be well-prepared (meaning: read all the compulsory readings, watch required screenings, play assigned games, and prepare all assignments) and contribute actively to the discussions in the course in a relevant way. Your grade for preparation and participation will reflect your preparation for class, attendance, and participation during individual and group activities, as well as contribution to class discussions. That said, you should not be afraid of making mistakes or working out ideas that you are not sure of. We are all here to learn. I acknowledge these expectations can be daunting for introverted students. If that describes you, we can work out an alternative way to assess your participation. I will give you feedback about how you are doing through office hours and midterm review/recess meetings.

Attendance is part of preparation and participation. Unless you are absent because of sickness or quarantine orders, or religious observance, attendance is mandatory for this class. Students who miss more than two classes without acceptable excuses will receive a 5% deduction from their overall grade. Students who miss more than four classes without adequate excuses will receive a 10% deduction. Students who miss more than five classes without acceptable excuses will fail the course. Students who need special accommodation in this regard should contact me to discuss alternative arrangements and assignments.
You will receive a midterm progress report with an unofficial grade for your “preparation and participation” and suggestions (if necessary) for engaging more fully in our class.

Leading a Discussion (10%)

Starting on Week 2, each student will be asked to lead a class discussion through close reading of select sections of the materials. A class session will usually have two discussion leaders, who may divide the responsibility of leading the discussion. Each student will only lead a class discussion once throughout the semester. Details about this assignment will be explained in class.

Animation exercises (20%):

Throughout the semester, students will complete a variety of short animation exercises. It will range from practicing frame rates, practicing with a variety of animation techniques (plasticine, cut out, pixilation, and hand-drawn animation), writing animation treatment and storyboard, and various other short assignments. These exercises are intended to prepare students for their individual and collaborative stop motion projects. Details about each assignment will be provided in class.

Animation Analysis (10%):

Towards the end of the semester you will complete a 3-5 minute screencast video, or a written paper analyzing an animated film of your own choice. Detailed instructions about this assignment will be distributed in class.

Individual Animation Project (20%):

Students will work individually to create a 30-60 second stop motion animation. Students will choose their own topic/story/technique for this project. Details about this assignment will be provided in class.

Collaborative Animation Project (20%):

Starting in the middle of the semester, we are going to do a collaborative project to create a longer stop motion animation. Details about this assignment will be provided in class.

Animation Festival Assignment (10%)

At the end of the semester, students will be asked to imagine themselves as a curator of a global animation film festival and come up with a curated list of 3-5 animated films for the festival in the most creative way possible. Details about this assignment will be provided in class.

Course Schedule:

* * * Please note that this syllabus is not a static document and the course schedule is subject to change. All changes will be posted to Canvas in advance and announced through email. Readings and screenings are to be completed for the date under which they are listed

18/29Introduction: What do we talk when we talk about animation?Welcome, course organization, and syllabus reviewWatch in class:The Owl Who Married a Goose” (Leaf,1974) “Blinkity Blank” (McLaren, 1955)

Husbands and Ruddell, “Approaching Animation and Animation Studies” 

Stop motion workshop 1 (frame rates, animating on 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s)
Watch before class: Oni (The Demon)” (Kawamoto, 1972) “12 Principles of Animation” (AlanBeckerTutorials, 2017)
29/5Tracing Histories
Furniss, “Setting the Scene for Animation”  Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions” 
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class:Pauvre Pierrot” (1892) “A Trip to the Moon” (Méliès, 1902)


Stop motion workshop 2 (handdrawn stop motion)
# animation exercise 1 due
Watch before class: The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Reiniger, 1926)
39/12Realism and the Uncanny ValleyMihailova, “Realism and Animation” Bode, “The Uncanny Valley”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class:  The Lion King (Favreau, 2019)


Stop motion workshop 3 (plasticine)
# animation exercise 2 due
Watch before class:  Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (Nozue, 2016)
49/19Memory and/in AnimationWalden, “Animation and Memory” Gibride, “Perceiving Persepolis” 
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Persepolis (Satrapi and Paronnaud, 2007)

Stop motion workshop 4 (cutout)
# animation exercise 3 due
Watch before class: Funan (Do, 2018)
59/26Animation and DocumentationRoe, “Absence, Excess, and Epistemological Expansion” Sofian, “Creative Challenges in the Production of Documentary Animation”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Waltz With Bashir (Folman, 2008)

Stop motion workshop 5 (Pixilation)
# animation exercise 4 due
Watch before class: Flee (Rasmussen, 2021)
610/3Animated Representations
Sammond, “Race, Resistance and Violence in Cartoons” Hassen, “Race and Identity and the Celebration of Black Excellence

Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Trader Mickey(Gillett and Hand,1932) Jay-Z, “The Story of O.J.” (Romanek and Jay-Z, 2017)


Stop motion workshop 6 (animation treatment)
# animation exercise 5 due
Watch before class: The Boondocks, S01E01 and E03 (McGruder, 2005)
710/10Fall RecessNo Class

10/12Experimentation and SurrealismTaberhman, “Experimental Animation” Ivins-Hulley, “A Universe of Boundaries” 
Stop motion workshop 7 (character design)
# pre-production assignment 1 due
Watch before class:Kebab World (Theobald, 2014) A Colour Box” (Lye,1935)  FoodSvankmajer, 1992)
810/17Anime: Bodies and FormsDenison, “Anime’s Bodies” Bolton, “From Ground Zero to Degree Zero
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Ranma 1/2, Season1, Ep. 1 Sailor Moon, Season 1, Ep. 1

Stop motion workshop 8 (Animation scriptwriting)
# pre-production assignment 2 due
Watch before class:Akira (Otomo, 1988)
910/24Animation and National IdentityWhyke, Mugica, Brown, “Contemporizing the National Style in Chinese Animation” Arps, “An Animated Revolution”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: Nezha (Jiaozi, 2019)


Stop motion workshop 9 (Animation storyboarding)
# pre-production assignment 3 due
Watch before class:Battle of Surabaya (Yuniawan, 2015)
1010/31Gendering AnimationDavis, “Women in Disney’s Animated Features 1989-2005” Perea, “Gender and Cartoons from Theaters to Television”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class:The Princess and the Frog (Clements and Musker, 2009)


Stop motion workshop 10 (Dragonframe)
# pre-production assignment 4 due
Watch before class:Tehran Taboo (Soozandeh)
1111/7Animated IndigeneityVellino, “Intervening in Settler Colonial Genocide”  Robinson, “People are Finally Listening
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class: – “Four Faces of the Moon” (Strong, 2016)


Projects’ update 1
Watch before class:Etaspe Komuy” (Ishiguro, 2016) “Mah Meri Stories” (Mustaffa/Santano)
1211/14Animated Nature/EcologyGossin, “Animated Nature” Donsomsakulkij, “Spirited Away”
Discussion leaders (2 students)
Watch before class:Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)


Projects’ update 2
Watch before class:Boy and the World (Abreu, 2013)
Amon, “Candy Coloured Ponies and Pastel Uniforms” Condry, “Love Revolution”  
Discussion leaders (2 students)
* Animation analysis due
Watch before class: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Season 1, Ep. 1, also available on Netflix Genshiken, Season 1, Ep. 1

11/23November RecessNo Class
1411/28Beyond Filmic FramePallant, “Video Games and Animation” Bowman, “Playing Around with Studio Ghibli
Discussion leaders (2 students)


Projects’ update 3
** Animation festival assignment due

1512/5The end is the beginningTBA


*** Individual assignment due

Collaborative project showcase****Collaborative assignment due Tuesday, Dec 12: 8.30-11.30am

+ late or missed assignments must be turned in by this date with no exceptions

Departure – Student’s work

After taking a long hiatus, I decided to update this personal website with another student appreciation post. This one is an animation work by one of my students at HWS, Jack Harris. He made this work for his independent study in animation aesthetics. It was a bittersweet one for me (and perhaps for Jack as well) since Jack made this project during my last semester at HWS and also his senior year. The title says it all. Enjoy!

Intro to Global Animation: Students’ Works

This is a student appreciation post.

Throughout the pandemic teaching classes has been especially hard and exhausting. I have experienced a variety of challenges and setbacks in teaching my courses that sometimes drained my soul and put me at the edge of frustration.

Thankfully, I always have several students who can make my day, and make me feel better about myself as a teacher. In this post I am going to feature several of the works by my students in Intro to Global Animation course at HWS.

A shot from Norman McLaren’s Blinkity Blank

These students have really made it easy for me to teach the materials with their intelligence, passion, critical insights, and creativity.

I have gotten permission to share their work here, so I am going to also share their identities. Do please share this post as widely as possible if you’d like, because I would like their works to be acknowledged by the public.

Hamburger (Max Harris, H ’20)

Collaborative Animation Scene (Max Harris, H ’20)

Pixilation Exercise (Max Harris, H ’20)

Cutout Animation Exercise (Max Harris, H ’20)

Clay Animation Exercise (Max Harris, H ’20)

Pasta Con Le Sarde (Jack Harris, H’21)

Collaborative Animation Scene (Jack Harris, H ’21)

Pixilation Exercise (Jack Harris, H ’21)

Cutout Animation Exercise (Jack Harris, H ’21)

Clay Animation Exercise (Jack Harris, H ’21)

It’s Crunch Time (Maggie Bonomo, WS ’21)

Collaborative Animation Scene (Maggie Bonomo, WS ’21)

Cutout Animation Exercise (Maggie Bonomo, WS ’21)

The Lonely Flower (Sarah Smith, WS ’21)

Cutout Animation Exercise (Sarah Smith, WS ’21)


Aesthetics of Animation: Student’s Independent Study

The pandemic has been hard for me, both physically and mentally. That is why I took a long hiatus from posting here (not that I was diligent in posting before the pandemic).

Now that it seems likely we have to live with Covid-19 forever, I have to start posting again in this site, mainly to keep my sanity. So my plan is to revisit things that I have done since the beginning of pandemic in a linear fashion and post it here perhaps once or twice a week.

I want to start by featuring an animated work by one of my students who recently graduated. She is a highly talented student who is full of creativity and intelligence. She always tries to push her limits in everything that she does and I really miss having her in my classes.

The work below is from her independent study with me on the aesthetics of animation. She made a short and moving animation about living in isolation titled Anna. I think her film fittingly reflects the mood of many us living under the pandemic.

Phenakistoscope Workshop

My Intro to Global Animation class did a DIY phenakistoscope workshop this week. My students seemed to enjoy it and they made some creative phenakistoscopes as well.

Student Project-Intro to Global Animation 2019

After a long hiatus due to unexpected life events, I have decided to revive this personal website. Hopefully this time it will be updated regularly.

To kick off, I would like to share (with permission) these two student stop motion projects from my Intro to Global Animation course that I just taught last spring.

I have been teaching this course for three years now and have to admit that the last iteration may be the most enjoyable to teach yet. I had a good group of students who were very active and attentive. In general, they also did a good job with their final project. The two projects that I’m featuring here are the ones that stand out for me the most.

The first project is called Media Pressures. It’s a critique of our contemporary social media culture and its attention economy. This one is technically the most polished compared to the other projects in the class although I made comment to the group that their stop motion would be much better with music soundtrack.

The second one is called Old Town Road. Story-wise, it plays with the usual western movie trope. What I like about this stop motion project is because the students who made this tried to apply what they have learned about the concepts of “limited animation” and “cartoon physics,” and I think they quite nailed it. Plus, it’s also sort of a reimagination of Lil Nas X’s song 🙂

PS. I had to upload my students’ videos to Youtube since Vimeo is (still) blocked in my home country, hence the downgraded quality. Once I am back in the States, I will switch them with the version on Vimeo.

Student Project – Intro to Global Animation

Last Fall, I designed and taught a new course called Introduction to Global Animation for the Media and Society Program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. It was a rewarding experience for both my students and I. We explored the history and practices of animation not only in the centers of global animation industry such as US and Japan, but also in places like Russia, China, and Iran. Through various case studies, we considered how local, national, regional, and transnational perspectives contribute to the historical trajectory of animation at a global scale.

In addition, to couple the writing assignments and exams, I asked the students to do a final group project creating a short stop motion animation covering one of the topics that we studied throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, many of them admitted that they gain a deeper knowledge about different aspects of global animation culture and that they really enjoyed the process of creating stop motion animation. I can’t say it enough that I am really proud of the overall students’ engagement in this class. Below is one of the best projects from the class, which discusses the historical role of women in animation industry. The title of the project is “The Dream of Feminine Aesthetic in Animation.” Enjoy!

The Dream of Feminine Aesthetic in Animation-Student Project

The Dream of Feminine Aesthetic in Animation-Student Project from iskandar zulkarnain on Vimeo.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: