“Every idea has a shelf life. One of your hardest jobs is to determine how long that is, and what you can get away with.”

Joe Donaldson

What’s covered in this Workshop?


The importance of process

In this chapter we take a look at how important process is to creating long-form animated content, how to organize your thoughts, and how to present work to the client.


Turning words into pictures

In this chapter we explore how to develop mere words into a rich visual narrative. Most importantly, we look at how to start small and systematically build and develop your ideas.


Setting the tone and art direction

What should it look like, and why? In this chapter, we examine these age-old questions and try to better understand Joe’s process for finding the right solution.


Project organization and process

Regardless of style, managing 2+ minutes of animated content is no laughing matter. In this chapter, we take a look at how this project was organized, what worked, and what didn’t.


The art of economic animation

Sometimes animation is fun, sometimes it’s about survival. In this chapter, we discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly. How can you be uncompromising in your ideas, but still make them manageable?


Not making the same mistake twice

Now it's time to go full circle and take a peek at one of Joe’s early “mistakes,” what was learned, how that informed his process, and how this was applied for the last film in the series.

What’s included in this Workshop?

  • Watch Instantly
  • Over 3 Hours of Video Workshops
  • 570MB of project files
  • Lifetime Access

The project

Centered around luminary figures Leonard Cohen, Janelle Monáe, and David Attenborough, this project consists of 3 award-winning visual essays created for The New Yorker in 2019 by Joe Donaldson.

The artist

Joe Donaldson has worn many hats from intern all the way through internationally represented director. In present day he splits his time between developing Holdframe, working at Buck, and teaching. And of course, running...

Project files and assets

In addition to the video walkthroughs, this Workshop includes various project files that were used directly in the production of these films. From initial moodboards, storyboards, down to production project files.

Video walkthroughs

Not only will you be able to directly interact with many of the project files used in these films; you’ll also be able to follow along with in-depth video walkthroughs from the artists themselves.


What programs do I need?

The workshop can be viewed without any special software. If you want to download the project files to gain more insights, you will need the following apps for this workshop: Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop (CC 2021 or later)

Are any third-party tools or plug-ins required?

There are a couple plugins and 3rd-party renderers that were used in the making of this piece. Some of the effects that use these have been modified or pre-rendered, but many haven’t, so just be aware. Plugins/Renderers: Trapcode Particular

Where will I be able to access my workshop?

You will be able to access your workshop through your School of Motion user dashboard. You must have an account and be logged in to access the workshop.

How is this different than a School of Motion Course?

Holdframe Workshops are deep-dives into specific projects done by an artist, studio, or collective. Rather than focus on broad fundamentals, they allow for a peek behind the curtain to see how some of the best work in the industry gets made. They are much shorter than School of Motion courses and are available to watch instantly after enrollment. Workshops do not have teaching-assistants, homework, or student groups like our courses do.

What is your refund policy?

For instant access courses, students can request a refund within the first 30 days from their point of purchase.

Check out our other Holdframe Workshops

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