Every year, FIRST lets teams use their creativity to create an animation regarding safety in teams. The safety animation is a great way for new members to get involved with non-technical aspects of the team.
The theme for the animation changes every year. The topic for the animation is typically released in mid-October, and teams have until mid-December to complete their animation.
Past themes include: 2013 - "Make event safety a top priority" 2012 - "Sharing safety is caring" 2011 - "A lifetime of safety"
Teams have two months to complete their animation. During this time, teams have to create a schedule and keep up with it to ensure completion and quality. Lynbrook Robotics has adopted this schedule for our animation seasons.
Prior to animation announcement: recruit new members interested in animating; hold workshops to teach them how to use animation software.
Weeks 1 and 2: take in ideas for plot, character design, and distribute tasks.
Weeks 3 and 4: begin model creation and character animation, as well as script writing.
Week 5 and 6: put models together into a sequence.
Week 7 and 8: record audio and add music.
Choosing the Right Software
There are many choices of 3D animation software to use for the animation. They include Autodesk 3DS Max, Autodesk Maya, and Autodesk Softimage. Since 2013, FIRST has removed the requirement of using and Autodesk software. Non-Autodesk products include Cinema 4D, Blender (free), Houdini, and LightWave 3D. Most of the available software have similar functionalities, so it is up to the team to choose the most suitable software for themselves. Different software have different learning curves, so choosing the easiest to learn software is necessary to quickly recruit new members.
A more in depth comparison of 3D animation software is available here.