1999 – 2000
Is it possible to teach animation by having professionals and beginners working on the same project, and doing this over internet only? The Internet Animation ’99 proved that it was.
It was one of the earliest internet collaborations for the purpose of creating a short movie, and one of the very few that succeeded.
The main goal of the project was to test the internet collaboration and to see if this was a viable way to teach animation or other technical subjects.
I floated the idea around Autodesk (Kinetix division) and made a proposal. I got no real support, just a web space that I could manage myself. But it was enough to get the project started.
The plan was to teach animation using a community. We would select some expert users and some beginners, and let them interact so that the beginners could learn while everybody was having fun.
I started by, advertising, recruiting the volunteers (the team had 28 people), writing a story, designing the characters, and building the web page.
After that, the story was divided into separate clips, and each animator would animate one or more. Communication was through email and through the public forum.
I was publishing an almost daily summary of the progress to keep everybody focused and up to date.
Together with some of the pro recruits I wrote a set of tutorials to teach rigging, use of cameras, and modeling, and we published everything on the web page.
At the end of the project, after a month or so of rest, I wrote an extensive report on what worked and what didn’t. Some parts broke down, some people vanished, and I had to take over some extra responsibility to get it done.
At the same time, some other projects were announced. Most failed or disappeared. Later on, smaller teams, not always using internet only, did manage to do a few shorts, and good ones too, but they had a different goal, structure, more modern software and faster internet.
Also, they were all good professionals with clear roles and art direction. Their goal was the final product, not the wide collaboration that IA99 had.
The quality of “House Broken”, the final animation, was not that great, but the collaboration between pro and beginners worked, the learning experience was great, and the fact that we finished it was enough for me to consider it a success.
Some of the team members kept in contact and worked with me on other projects.