Akram's Ideas

Cosmic Calamities

This past semester thought a new course entitled “Web and Motion Graphics”. The course covered both Adobe Flash and AfterEffects, with a focus on 2D animation.

Now teaching animation is nothing new for me I’ve done it before. What was new was how I approached the assignments in this class. In the past I would give students the opportunity to create their own animated short, but because of time constraints it was hard for a one person team to complete a short and not all animator a are good storytellers. Thus this time around I came up with the story and had the entire class work together, just like in a real animation studio setting, to create an animated short.

The short entitled “Cosmic Calamities” and is episode one in the series (each year the next class will animate a new episode.) the short revolves around Al U. Minimum a little space robot from the planet A.I. , who works for S.T.A.R exploring the universe in a Model Alpha 5 R.U.S.T ( Robotic Universal Space Transport) spacecraft.

Robotic Universal Space Transport or R.U.S.T
Robotic Universal Space Transport or R.U.S.T

Obviously, Al is not the brightest S.T.A.R (Space Terrain Assessor and Researcher) agent, nor is his ship the flag-ship, in fact it’s more of a “Rust Bucket”. And thus he’s where the comedy comes in, watching Al get out of his wacky predicament.

In this case he’s had a hit and run with a planet and knocked it out of orbit. Now he’s got to find a way to put it back in its place.

The course itself being new only had 6 students, but they were all excellent and they really like the format of the course bringing more like studio work. I divided the students in teams of two and each set were given a number of scenes to work on. This seemed to work really well.

Al comes up with an idea to fix his predicament
Al comes up with an idea to fix his predicament

Other than the script, story board and rough style guide the students had free range on the look and feel of the animation. The colors the ended up going with, felt very “Looney Tunes” in a way, but perhaps the story also had a similar feel.

The students also, got a chance to embellish the story from its original script. The s called missing planet named “GUS” after the universities mascot. Then there’s a random chicken leg that floats in space, just for grins.

Computer Alert Screen
Computer Alert Screen
Random chick leg in space
Random chick leg in space


In the end I can’t say enough how well the students did and how good the finished product came out. Judge for yourself.


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Akram Taghavi-Burris

designer, writer, educator, tech nerd, crafter, baker, sewer and vintage collector, who Brings Creative & Crazy Ides to Life.

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