Craig Caldwell – Story Mastery in Animation

Craig_Caldwell-1111About Craig Caldwell

With over 30 years professional experience, Craig Caldwell has enjoyed a diverse career, moving between senior roles in industry and education. At Walt Disney Feature Animation, he worked as 3D Technology Specialist on Tarzan, Dinosaur, Atlantis, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons and Bolt, while at Electronic Arts he was Head of Creative Training, working with artists on various major game titles.

His academic background includes helming film and animation programs across both America and Aus- tralia. He was Director of the Master Games Studio at University of Utah, described by Princeton Review as the ‘#1 Games program in the USA’. Amongst numerous other senior roles, he has been Head of the Media Arts department at University of Arizona, Associate Director of the U of A Triestman New Media Center and Head of the largest Film School in Australia. These days he is in demand on the world anima- tion festival circuit for his series of lectures focusing on story development for animators. 

Course Introduction

This course is an introduction to story and storytelling in animation and games. The focus is on the development of content for animated projects such as commercials, cut scenes in games, TV, shorts and new media (internet and mobile phones). The course covers practical analysis of the development of story for animation. Classic story structure and formats will be thoroughly covered in individual lectures, together with their design and characteristics. This is a valuable opportunity to present and create your own story, and to receive feedback from the group and on a personal level with the instructor and experienced professionals 

Course Contents


  • Staging and pose design
  • The primary goal of all stories
  • Scene planning
  • Blocking

Story structure

  • Story: plot-driven versus character-driven
  • Story endings
  • Exposition: dramatizing versus explaining
  • Creating believability


  • Character is revealed in choices a human makes under pressure 
  • Archetypes versus Stereotypes
  • Essential conflict all characters must face 

Story genre

  • Genres and their characteristics
  • The classical Hollywood story design
  • Non-classical story design formats

Story design

  • Choosing significant moments
  • Change, conflict and resolution
  • Emotion in your story
  • The character arc in a story
  • Story settings 

Animation storytelling techniques

  • Deep characterization
  • Dialogue
  • Acting choices
  • Facial expressions
  • Camera moves
  • Visual humor 

Course outcomes

  • Completed first draft of a story in storyboard format
  • Develop and get a critique of your new or personal story idea
  • Learn the indispensable elements of a great pitch 


2-day public master class

Date:  tbc

Location: iacc Studio (3rd Floor, DeTao Masters Academy, Shanghai Institute of Visual Art, 2200 Wenxiang Road, Songjiang, Shanghai 201620)