Bringing things to life with Rob MacGillivray

Hello, and welcome to a summary of Rob’s class. It’s kind of about animation, kind of about bringing things to life, but not teaching us how to animate. Because he’s not an animation teacher. He’s Rob. Who knows a lot about animation but does not specialise in it. But he contradicts himself at the end of this class by telling us the quickest way to animate something. So maybe now this is more of an exploration into whether Rob is a hypocrite. Keep on reading to find out.

Rob (in his own words) has skinned a lot of cats in animation. Because Rob (who is into film) likes communication without words, and animation is a language of its own. Animation makes your eyes fill in gaps and lets you feel the thrill of solving a visual puzzle. It creates new worlds guided by new aesthetics and enables your brain to wander around in them. Which is why animation was Rob’s first love – not sexually, apart from sometimes because, (in his own words again, I must confirm this as the following sentence could get me barred from the school) have you seen Roger Rabbit? So, as you remember all the details of your first kiss, Rob remembers all the intricate details and little facts about animation. Such as how animation can be categorised into these six animation styles: 

  • Drawn animation (your classic Disney, Scooby Doo, Steamboat willie) – There are as many ways to do drawn animation as there are ways to draw paint or make a mark.
  • Vector animation (Dumb Ways to Die) – This can be done in After Effects and Illustrator. Made of precomposed layers that are then popped together, it is super easy to add individual elements. It can also be used to animate type. 
  • Stop-motion animation (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Check out Ardman animations). It can animate existing things/physical items/clay. After Effects has an extension that realises when a hand is in frame and edits it out to make this technique easier. Anything that can be moved in front of a camera can be classed as stop-motion.
  • Puppetry animation (Muppets, Thunderbirds and Flat Eric for Levis.) – The basis of puppetry is: How many things can you bring to life by sticking your hand up them? Quite a lot, apparently. 
  • Cut-out animation (Monty Python’s intro). Check out Terry Gilliam or any Chinese Shadow Theatre for some pristine examples.
  • AI animation – Although mostly gif-like in its capabilities, it probably will be the next big thing. Useful sites for this are Leia Pix, Five Motion Brush, Pika (text to video), D-ID, and HeyGen, which will even allow you to add lip sync.

Ultimately, we were taught all this to help us create more concrete case study videos that looked visually consistent to help us sell our spin on the branding. Each idea may suit a different presentation style or even be changed entirely if we introduce it to the world in the incorrect format. So thank you, Rob, for giving us all of these fun moveable options. Also, if everything goes wrong, we will have the backup case study video technique he divulged to us. So, I will leave you with this: 

Emergency animation route for those under time pressure:

  1. Obtain a potato.
  2. Record potato. 
  3. Gouge a mouth-shaped hole in the potato.
  4. Record potato.
  5. Make the hole bigger.
  6. Record potato. 
  7. Then just smash the images together (all 3 of them), and voila, you have a talking potato.


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