Bringing Stories to Life: For Programmers, Animators, and Interactive Designers


Bringing Stories to Life: For Programmers, Animators, and Interactive Designers

Thursday, 13 August 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM | Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 153A-C

When studios say “it's about the story!” everyone nods in agreement. But creating a story often remains a mystery for many people in computer animation, VFX, and games, because screenwriting is not their focus. Nevertheless, there is an expectation that everyone working on the project is familiar with: story structure.

This course is for programmers, technical artists, designers, and animators who want to know more about the universal elements of story: plot, characters, and story development. The course emphasizes story elements in context (theme, character, setting, conflict, etc.) and their relationship to classic story structure (setup, inciting incident, rising action, climax, resolution, etc). It analyzes conflict (internal, external, environmental), turning points, cause and effect, archetype vs. stereotypes, inciting incident, and how choice defines character).

Course Schedule

9 am
Story Idea or Story Development?

Inner Journey-Fear of change, Dramatic Purpose, Structures (Genres, Types, Plots, Goals)

9:15 am
Developing Ideas, Experience, Adapting Story Elements, Avoiding Clichés, Research (Participatory, Observational, Factual), Where do stories start? (Beginning, Middle, or End)

9:35 am
Narrative Development What if… , Point of View, Storyboarding/PreVis, Setting is fundamental, Using Feedback, Backstory versus Character Profile, Coincidences… When?

9:55 am
Character Development, Transformation is Character Arc, Love your Characters, Dialogue – What is the right mixture?, Character Gaps

10:15 am
Story Development Checklist, Development for Shorts

10:25 am
Summary, Questions





Intended Audience

Everyone, professionals to students, who wants a solid understanding of the fundamentals of story structure for creating animated films, visual effects, transmedia, and video games.


Craig Caldwell
University of Utah