Here is a quick and easy introduction to animation suitable for all abilities and a starting point for more complex development. This is a stop-motion making activity that takes about 4 lessons (one hour per week) with Year 7 students but in theory could be done with Year 6 post-SATs as part of an arts activity week. The example above is my test piece.
What you will need:
- Laptop with either iMovie or MovieMaker
- Stills camera and tripod or gorilla-pod
- Cardboard boxes
- Scissors and possibly a craft knife
- Powder paints or acrylic paint if you can afford it!
- Whiteboard markers
Sjors Vervoort is a Dutch artist working in many creative fields. His 2009 short “Cardboard” has been screened worldwide. More information here.
“Muto” by Blu is a more conventional form of graffiti but animated! Brought to life over many walls and scansion Europe, Blu creates an alternate reality for his creations.
As starting points we can see a development from simply taking a character ‘for a walk’ to complex, surreal stories.
Sketchbook work initially focussed on the development of imaginary creatures; not quite animals or monsters and featuring potentially expressive faces or movement.
Key ideas also included shape, colour and scale but also repeatability – offering students to try out each others’ designs. This refinement was invaluable before drawing out on cardboard.
Identifying movable components came next including accessories, limbs and details. Elements of storytelling start to emerge as the character acquires items such as sunglasses, headphones etc. Also essential at this stage is teamwork; cardboard is an ideal medium for three or four students to collaborate and complete designs efficiently.
Next step includes cutting the character from the cardboard box. As Vervoort shows a rough outline, the main body needn’t be precisely cut. Limbs etc are more important to cut to the edge. For this purpose craft knives are ideal when used carefully!
Left: See that the character has been re-outlined with a black marker as have limbs etc. The eyes are left pupil-less so that they can feature in the animation – moving, growing and blinking.
When taking the photos, blu-tac is best for attaching limbs and accessories and also for the main body to be attached to walls in an upright way.
Writing a bit of a storyline is best done in the art room using a storyboard of at least 6 boxes; 2 each for start, middle and end. Start boxes shouldn’t be focussed on titles but should answer “Who” and “Where”. The middle boxes can be “What” and “Why” offering an element of a problem to be solved or a journey undertaken. Finally the remaining resolution boxes can represent “How”, ie. how has the character solved the problem. This is an element offering opportunities for differentiation, literacy and narrative storytelling. It is important that the location of events can be represented within the art classroom though.
I used a stills camera on a cheap tripod, taking around 40 photos but I could have done it with a lot less! Simply drop the photos into a desktop folder and import into your video editor of choice (either iMovie or MovieMaker are more than adequate). Select all (cmd-A or ctrl-A) and reset duration to either 0.5 or 0.25 seconds. Aim for 12 frames per second and use repeated photos as much as possible to get rid of the jerkiness. Six frames per second works for a rough cut to see that you have animated your character successfully. This aspect takes at least 40 minutes to an hour.
“The YouTube cartoon (sic. Vervoort’s) was like nothing I have seen before.”
“My team made four creatures who took part in a chase around the wall. We want to add Benny Hill music.”
“We made an explosion then decided how it would be part of the story. We worked as a pair and found it easy to share out jobs.”