“The Twelve Principles of Animation Rap” began life as a bullet point on a list of things that could be made to promote NUA ANIWIP conference (Norwich University of the Arts Work In Progress). I was intrigued as to how or what this would entail, so I volunteered to develop the idea further. After discussing with tutor Jon Dunleavy, I had an angle. It was to become a rap based on The Twelve Principles of Animation.
The Twelve Principles of Animation are a series of techniques that were devised and categorised by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, which are fundamental to creating a great animated performance. Here at Norwich University of the Arts, we are taught the principles in First Year, and we continue to refine our use of them through our graduation.
I am not from a musical background, so the music production of the video was done through a lot of guesswork and ‘messing about’ to understand how music worked. The closest I’ve come to making any sort of song before this has been taking lyrics of existing songs and changing them so that they fit a new purpose.
The aesthetic and design inspiration of the animation came from research into Eighties rap videos, and the ensuing decades’ desire to replicate them in affectionate parodies and pastiches. One particular design element I knew I wanted from the animation’s inception was a ‘graffiti wall’ for the characters to rap against, as a reference to the start of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air intro sequence.
The delivery of the information was also inspired by various ‘edu-tainment’ style videos, designed to explain things in an entertaining way. During my time in GCSE Biology, we were shown a similar rap-style song that explained how camels were adapted to their environment, which stuck with me and helped me explain the desired direction I wanted the project to go in.
I knew that a simplistic art style for the characters would help make the animation appealing. With fellow animator Elizabeth Fijalkowski, we developed the characters of Squash and Stretch to be simplistic shapes to represent their personalities and, as the designs developed, gave them floating limbs, which allowed for more animation potential.
The production of the rap went into hibernation while, collectively, the university headed through deadlines. Third Year of university is hard work and you have to prioritise your workload efficiently to get the best results.
Two weeks after deadline, the rap came back to life and together, with a team of students from across the course, we set to work generating dances and lip syncs to the audio. I would like to thank Elizabeth for all the editing work she did. It’s always important to have a trustworthy editor, and her composition and editing work really helped push the project further.
Within two weeks, the animation had been completed. I am amazed at how quick the turnaround for the project has been, and am thoroughly impressed by the dedication of the animators on the team.
The Twelve Principles of Animation Rap has been a fun personal project to develop, and I have enjoyed the collaborative nature of it. It’s been good to work alongside people I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to, as well as taking a directorial role.
See more of Haydn's work here: https://www.haydnimation.com