Animation Contest - submit your idea or vote on your favourite



Win this, but with your animation

Plus there’s a draw for a plywood kit with a stock animation
Just like someone’s idea topic, or vote in the poll.

How does the competition work?
. Shortlisted ideas go into a poll, votes help us select a winner
. Voting and Liking puts you in a draw to win

There are two machines to be won, one for the winning idea we select, and another in a draw from all the people who voted and/or liked an idea thread/topic. As ideas are submitted, we will monitor and provide guidance and feedback - and hopefully so will other members of the forum.

Like, Vote
Remember - you don’t need a winning idea, just vote and/or like an animation idea to go in the draw. Even if you do have a submission in the poll, vote/like! You could win two 4-Mations. Obviously you can only be entered into the draw once, regardless of whether you like and vote, and how many likes you give.

How do I submit my idea?
Create a new thread (topic) in this, the ‘Animation Contest’ category, with the title of your animation idea and your name, along with a description and a storyboard. We’ll be watching and will provide feedback and help you develop the story-board. As you accept feedback or evolve your idea, update/edit the original post. That’s important, the current state of your idea should always be at the top of the thread.

Can I submit more than one idea?
Note; any idea that doesn’t win this time, will automatically be a contender in the next competition, and it will have had all that extra time for feedback, and to evolve and develop.

Rules, Legal, FAQ rules, legal, faq

How should I describe my idea?
To start with, we need an English description of the 20 frame story loop. However, it’s very unlikely that words will be enough, we also want a 2D story board.

You can choose any format you like, even phone pictures of hand drawn scribbles can work, indeed - this is how Kevin specified the Fish-eating-Fish animation to Johnathan. See at the bottom for the original hand-scribble story-board wheel, but if you can, we suggest you use sketch/painting software to fill this animation wheel template.

Of course the story-board wheel really helps you plan the character layout, since it matches the actual layout of a 4-Mation carousel, but it also enables us to make a 2D animation so everybody can see what it’s about.

Fill the template with sketches of each frame in the 20 frame loop, and then we’ll make it into an animated gif for you. For example the frogs animation story-board wheel might look something like this.

We cheated here, since it was easy for Johnathan to work backwards from the final animation, and of course he’s a skilled artist. You don’t have to have Johnathan’s skills though - see underneath the frogs, for the original story-board wheel used to specify the Fish-eating-Fish animation.

With the storyboard in this animation wheel format, it is then a very simple matter for us to put the image in Adobe Premiere and make a 20 frame looping gif, where each frame is rotated clockwise by 18 degrees. Like this: (your’s won’t have the same slight wobble, the new template is now perfectly centered)

Actual story board for Fish-eating-Fish
This is the actual sketch used to specify the Fish-eating-Fish animation; a phone pic of a hand drawn story board on a print-out template.

What’s important is the story, and the loop. If like Kevin, you’re no artist, but you have a good imagination, and can see the loop in your head, and can plot it out on paper like this, then we will help you take it to the next step and animate it in 2D like the frogs above.

What makes a good animation loop? (answer: Animation Multiplexing)
You might think this was an impossible question to answer, but actually there is something quite specific about all of the 4-Mation loops that set them apart from most other Zoetrope animations. They are multiplexed animations.

Zoetropes stories are fundamentally limited. The 4-Mation uses just 20 frames in it’s default set up, which means you have just 20 frames to tell your story, and given the 4-Mation carousel rotates at 100rpm, that works out to just 0.6 seconds of story telling.

Or does it? what if there was a way to make the animation story longer than 20 frames, while still only using 20 frames? Impossible? What if you had to watch the carousel rotate more than once to see the full story cycle?

This is what happens in our animations, each frame is telling multiple parts of the story simultaneously, which is why above you can see there are two frogs per carousel segment (except in one of them) and the fish story-board has 3 or 4 fish per segment.

The frogs animation actually tells a story that is 39 frames long - you have to watch the carousel rotate very nearly twice (once + 19 frames) before you can watch one full cycle of a frog, as it jumps from one lily pad to another, then walks out the edge pad and then walks forward and blinks before it jumps again.

The fish animation tells a story that’s harder to pin down exactly in length (does it start when the clam opens or when the fish is first visible?) but there are 70 fish so the story takes more than 3 carousel rotations to watch the full story of a fish being “borne” from a clam, swimming up behind another fish, eating it, and then being eaten itself.

We are working on a video explaining animation multiplexing, so stay tuned to our youtube and facebook for that.


i actually have 4 ideas now i just have to think about how to put it on paper.
there always have to be 1 point touching the 1 i am trying to think of how to the best way to go about that.


Hi I’ve tried to create a topic but I cannot seem too…

My son has loved watching the zoetrope and wanted me to submit an idea on his behalf.

He hasn’t thought of a name just yet for it, but he has an idea for a skeleton holding 2 swords who is attacking a pumpkin (pumpkin must have a jet pack) as he walks towards the pumpkin, he bends down to slice him but misses and stabs himself with both swords.

He tried to draw it but we struggled with it.


@wdyt thanks for pointing that out, we’re new to running this forum software (Discourse) and it seems it comes super-locked-down by default.

I’ve fixed that now, so everyone should be able to post, and edit posts, and all the sensible things you expect to be able to do on a forum…