Cartoon Series

This project started as a semesters project at University of Applied Sciences Hagenberg.
We wanted to create a 2D cartoon series based on the life at our dormitory -
which was ridiculously close to the university (hence the title "Dorm-Advantage").

The series is about a fictional University - "Gipfelstein" - somewhere in the Austrian Alps.
While we were using a lot of references and inside-jokes about our actual university,
we still tried to keep it understandable and enjoyable for everyone.

Character Design:

Character Sheet:Chris Character Sheet:Thomas Character Sheet:Vanessa
Height Chart Turn-Around

The main casts consists of four archetypical characters:
students of some "media-something"-course of studies, as they are popular right now.
We have the media/web 2.0 geek, the hardcore technical nerd, the artistic scatterbrain and the party-animal.

They were based on the various types of students that can be found at every university, but not an any actual person.
We composed both their characters and social connection to get as much humour and long-term story material as possible.
So there are still a lot of ideas in the drawer that we didn't get to use yet.

Story development


We put a lot of effort in our first episode story. We wanted it to give a lot of information about the characters, demonstrate the style of the series, be easy to realize and still as funny as possible.
So the script was overhauled several times, storyboards were drawn and discussed and dismissed, animatics were presented to a test audience and tweaked in their timing and pacing.
You can see the compete animatic at www.vimeo.com/heimvorteil.
We casted our own classmates as voice-actors - and luckily found some real talents!

Props and environments:


Since we have a lot of reoccurring places and topics in the concept, we decided to make the locations and items in 3D, saving us time in the long run. (First we tried over-painted photos, but that turned out to be very extensive for every single shot.)
We have created the classroom (it's based on room HS4, in which we had most of our lectures) and tweaked the renderings a lot so that they would harmonize with the drawn characters.

We ended up with a combination of ramp-shading, ambient occlusion, depth of field and 2D blurring techniques - all combined after rendering.
The second room - the kitchen in the dormitory - is also mostly done as well as most of the props.

Animation and Compositing:


We spent some time and nerve trying to figure which software and workflow to use for the actual animation. Even though our cartoon does not differ much from other series, we had some trouble finding feasible ways of production, that would not limit us to the concepts of one particular software suite.
Since we have both, full animation sequences with a strong perspective and limited lip-sync dialogue, finding ways of reduce the work load without limiting the animation was difficult.

The Intro/Title Animation was done in a very limited cut-out like manner for testing and time saving purposes.
Even though we gained a lot of experience already, we are still trying to optimize our production.
(This experience also inspired and influenced my Bachelor Thesis on Paperless Handdrawn 2D Animation.)

Reception and current development:

The original semesters project is long finished and received a lot of approval (as well as good grades).
But with only 4 people, only a semester time and with other homework, tests and projects to do, we never finished the complete first episode.

Meanwhile the original team is not studying together any more due to different career choices. But we're still in contact and hope we can find the time now and then to continue working on the series.
Once the first episode is finished, we will present it to the wide audience.