Tennis Practice

This is the story of a bipedal robot practicing his tennis swing against a tennis ball machine in an abandoned warehouse. The tennis ball machine comes to life after being hit and starts to play against the robot. They have an exciting rally with the robot eventually triumphing over the tennis machine. However, the tennis machine gets the last laugh by shooting a basketball at the robot knocking him out.


The environment is a make shift tennis court inside an abandoned warehouse with a net and court made from materials found there. The roof is very high and there is a big hole in it with sunlight flooding the court. The background is undecided but could be filled with boxes, pipes, plants, trees, machinery, etc. The court is mostly composed of dirt but has some irregularities.


  • Robot: A slender and weak looking bipedal robot who is very inexperienced at playing tennis and does not have a lot of confidence.
  • Tennis ball machine: (or machine for short) An inanimate object that behaves like a normal tennis machine by shooting balls out of a turret. When hit it becomes a sentient being that spins around it's turret to return balls. The machine has wheels preferably or hovers if there is not enough time.

Scene breakdown

Scenes three to six will be done first and two and one added later if we have time. Included are some suggestions for shots which are camera positions or movements. They are not final and can be changed during storyboarding.

Scene one: "Setup" [5-8 seconds]

  • robot drags the tennis machine into place
  • sets up the machine by pressing a button
    • Chris: Is this necessary? It seems redundant: this could be as simple as flicking a switch
    • Eric: You're right, this is not necessary a button press will do; changed.
  • machine's turret pops up and beeps
  • Shot 1: Camera pans from the hole in the roof to the robot pushing the machine in order to establish the setting.
    • Chris: Once again, is this necessary? Make work scenarios like these should be avoid: Trust me, we'll be busy enough already.
    • Eric: I'm not sure why this would be extra work. I believe it is necessary to have a shot that establishes the environment in the first scene. Using a different shot to establish the environment is fine.
  • Shot 2: Camera is close to the robot as he finishes pushing the machine until the end of the scene.
    • Chris: Though we could make a shot focused directly on the machine after it's activated: keep the active object in focus?
    • Eric: Not sure what you mean but if you're talking about adding another shot that's fine with me.

Scene two: "Warm up" [5-10 seconds]

  • robot does arm stretches leaning side to side arms on hips
  • then touches his toes (Perhaps that loose bolt can fall here? -Chris)
  • then runs on the spot
  • Shot 1: Camera is near the robot
    • Chris: panning down as he touches his toes? would follow focus to the proposed dropping bolt. (nice to have feature)
  • Shot 2: Camera is near the robot but at different position, maybe a bit further away too

Scene three: "Action" [5-7 seconds]

  • robot presses a button on his wrist to activate the machine
    • Chris: Why? This hardly seems necessary.
    • Eric: The tennis machine at this point is not alive and hence must be activated somehow.
  • robot moves into a ready stance waiting for the first ball
  • Shot 1: A close up of the robot pushing a button on his wrist.
  • Shot 2: Camera is in front of the robot as he takes his stance.

Scene four: "Practice" [10-15 seconds]

  • tennis ball machine fires balls in random directions
  • robot returns the ball to the other side which do not hit the tennis machine
  • robot accidentally hits the tennis machine's turret which spins around a couple times and stops
  • Shot 1: Camera shows machine firing balls and robot returning them
  • Shot 2: Another camera (Rotation of camera in shot 1 might work. -Chris)
  • Shot 3: Another camera? (Do we need so many camera shots? IMO 2 would suffice: One showing the robot making the returns, and the last close up showing the robot being hit. I also think that this wouldn't take 10 seconds: the machine ought to be hit by the third return: anything after that may be seen as tedious. -Chris)
  • Shot 4: Close up of robot being hit

Scene five: "The battle" [10-15 seconds]

  • the robot looking curiously at the tennis machine from afar to see if it's broken
  • tennis machine starts to shake and lets out smoke coming to life
  • fires a tennis ball back and the robot
  • robot and tennis machine run back and fourth in a rally; the tennis machine is using it's turret to hit the ball.
  • robot gets a lucky shot winning the rally
  • robot makes winning gesture
  • Shot 1: Camera shows robot from far away
  • Shot 2: Camera shows robot close up looking at the tennis machine (Perhaps with a look of worry on it's face? -Chris)
  • Shot 3: Camera right behind net on robot side seeing tennis machine shake and smoke come out of it
  • Shot 4: Camera chases players as the rally occurs
  • Shot 5: Camera shows close up of robot smashing the ball
    • (Could add a slowdown effect for epicness. -Chris)
    • Eric: Great idea!
  • Shot 6: Camera is on the side of the court and shows the ball go past the robot
  • Shot 7: Close up of robot's winning gesture

Scene six: "Last laugh" [5-8 seconds]

  • tennis machine's turret grows bigger and shoots a basketball at the robot.
    • Chris: Cartoonishly? Like the barrel swelling with the shape of a basketball moving down it?
    • Eric: Depends on tennis machine design but probably something cartoonish.
  • robot is caught off guard and is knocked down
  • tennis machine laughs as the basketball rolls on the ground
  • Shot 1: Close up of turret growing bigger
  • Shot 2: Near robot as he gets smacked
  • Shot 3: Camera flies up looking down at the robot as the basketball rolls away (Hmm. IMO a better shot would be a close up of the robot laughing, with the basketball idly bouncing into the shot in the last second. -Chris)

Total estimated time: 48 seconds

Modeling breakdown

High detail models (will be seen up close)

  • Robot
  • Tennis ball machine
  • Tennis racket

Medium detail models

  • Tennis court
  • Net
  • Objects that make up the court
  • tennis ball
  • basketball

Low detail models

  • Background objects


  • light shining through roof
  • smoke from tennis machine
  • depth of field for background
  • motion blur of tennis ball
  • dust particles in the air

Risk analysis

  1. Full body animation: The robot has complicated bipedal movement resembling a human. Full body movement may be kept at a distance to hide some issues.
  2. Consistent style of movement: If the robot or tennis ball machine was animated by two different people there may be some differences in movement. To reduce this risk we have appointed an art director to ensure art style and animation style is consistent.
  3. Too many scenes: There may be too many scenes to animate and not enough time. We plan to start with scenes three to six because the first two can be left out and it would still be a decent animation. Once those are done we work on scene two and then scene one.
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