Introduction to Moviestorm

This is a 13-lesson course designed to take students from first contact with Moviestorm through to complete familiarity with the software. Lessons take anywhere from 1 to 8 hours, and offer plenty of flexibility for students to explore the software at their own pace.

Developed by John Herd, Wan Smolbag Theatre, Vanuatu

Permission is granted to download, copy, and redistribute this lesson plan free of charge, provided that it is credited as above and this notice is included in full. Sale of this lesson plan is expressly prohibited.

Provided free of charge by the Moviestorm Education Academy

Lesson 1: Introduction to Animation Duration: 1 hour

Putting Moviestorm into context.

  • A brief introduction to the history of animation from “flick book” drawings to Walt Disney and Pixar.
  • Demonstration of PivotStickAnimator
  • Explanation of MoCap
  • A comparison of “Machinima” and Keyframe animation (i.e. using pre-determined “actions” on puppets to build animation as opposed to controlling each movement of a skeleton.
  • Benefits and limitations of Moviestorm approach. E.g. Speed, manpower, cost as opposed to flexibility and image quality.

Lesson 2: Getting to know Moviestorm Duration: 8 hours

A free-form exploration of the Moviestorm software.

  • students watch MS tutorial videos
  • Explore Moviestorm on their own
  • Ask questions of tutors
  • Try out Moviestorm using starter and tutorial movies

 Introduction to the various Settings and how to add extra content.

  • Add ons
  • Graphics
  • Sound
  • Key Bindings
  • Save and Backup

 Introduction to different views and Moviestorm“workflow”. Explaining potential for “recursive” iterations.

  • Templates
  • Sets
  • Set Workshop View
  • Dressing Room View
  • Director’s View
  • Camerawork View
  • Cutting Room View
  • Publisher’s View
  • Script Editor

Lesson 3: Navigation inside Moviestorm Duration: 1 hour

Students are shown the different mouse movements and keyboard shortcuts to navigate around inside the Moviestorm interface.

  • Panning
  • Scrolling
  • Zooming
  • Centering.

Lesson 4: Script-Writing/ Storyboarding Duration: 4 hours

A “diversion” to investigate what makes a good “Moviestorm” script as opposed to a TV Movie or written story and the importance of keeping the “story” in mind throughout the process.

  • Shown how to story board-(basics)
  • Students are taught how to do a script write-up using Celtx
  • Decide on a individual project, this should be less than 5 mins and involve only two or three characters
  • Class project e.g. Animate and existing WSB Radio broadcast.

Lesson 5: Set-workshop Duration: 8 hours

Returning to Moviestorm and starting to build the set.

Basics of set building

  • How to add fixtures, materials and various kinds of props.
  • Use of prop manipulation tools and Gizmo
  • Discussion of various kinds of props e.g. stationary, mobile, scrolling backgrounds, special effects (weather, explosions etc), lights and their invisible versions, speakers etc.
  • Changing Lighting settings
    • Directional
    • Tri-Directional
  • The “Stock” repository

 How to design the set to best show the script

  • Potential camera angles and locations and how they affect design decisions e.g position and number of walls, backgrounds etc.
  •  “Blocking” of actors moves etc
  • Choices such as whether to add furniture etc. after completing all movements or adjust movements to suit prop location.

Lesson 6:  Dressing Room View  Duration: 2 hours

Choice and morphable attributes of :-

  • Clothes
  • Heads
  • Hair and Hats
  • Accessories
  • Character Info

Lesson 7:  Sound Recording and Editing  Duration: 4 hours

Another “diversion” to learn more required basics

Audio recording

  • Students are to shown how to use a digital recorder
  • Encouraged to make a few different test recordings of dialogue and ambient sounds.
  • Tutors coach students in how to relax and sound realistic when being recorded.

Audio editing

  • Students are shown how to download audio files onto pc.
  • Students are shown how to edit with the audio editing software and given a basic text tutorial to help them.

Lesson 8:  Director in action Duration: 8 hours

Back to MS to start putting things together.

Students are shown how to:-

  • Move actors around the set
  • Use postures
  • Use the Gesturiser
  • Use the Mood Customiser
  • Make actors interact with different kinds of props
  • Make them interact with each other
  • Talk

Lesson 9: Camera Work Duration: 4 hours

Basic introduction to camerawork and how to use various settings and options to achieve the desired dramatic effects

  • Kinds of shot
    • One shot
    • Free shot
    • Target shot
  • Zoom
  • Focal length
  • Focal Range
  • Camera angles
  • Framing (Rule of thirds. Golden mean etc)
  • “Jump to” or “Move to” camera keyframes
  • Using single and multiple cameras

Lesson 10: The Script Editor Duration: 1 hours

  • How to add and delete scenes (Why one scene per movie might be best)
  • When /why to enable/disable Improvisations,
  • Using Cell shading

Lesson 11: Video Editing Duration: 4 hours

The Cutting Room.

How to add:-

  • Clips
  • Audio,
  • Images
  • Filters
  • Titles

The Publisher’s view. 

Different options:-

  • Pre-defined MS options
  • Custom options

Post Production tools

  • Introduction to  external editing tools e.g Sony vegas, Windows Moviemaker
  • How to add other media files to enhance the movie, e.g. Inclusion of “live action”, music and ambient sounds
  • More sophisticated titles and transitions between shots
  • Use of green screens

Lesson 12: Modders Workshop Duration: 2 hours

  • How to import SketchUp v6 models into Moviestorm
    • Resizing textures
    • Converting to .dds format
    • Creation of specular and normal files.
  • How to create new floor, ceiling and wall textures

Lesson 13: What next Duration: 1 hours

  • The Moviestorm website and forums
  • How to add other media files to enhance the movie, e.g. Inclusion of “live action”, music and ambient sounds
  • More sophisticated titles and transitions between shots
  • Use of green screens