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Persistence of Vision: Animation I


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Keywords: Animation
Subject(s): Art, Technology
Grades 10 through 12
School: Ft Leboeuf High School, Waterford, PA
Planned By: Jennifer Peters
Original Author: Jennifer Peters, Waterford

PERSISTENCE OF VISION (ANIMATION) TIME FRAMES & SEQUENCE OF LESSONS

DAY 1, LESSON ONE: ANIMATION MOVIE REVIEW, PAPER MOVIE MACHINES. The teacher will introduce the concept of the animation or a timed sequence or series of graphic images or frames together to give the appearance of continuous movement. When the sequence of images are shown one after the other very quickly, the human eye and brain blend the images to produce the effect of motion, otherwise known as persistence of vision.

Current movies run at a 24-frames a second. Anything below a 16-frames threshold appears distracting. The students will preview a teacher-chosen list of animation highlights, including: Chuck Jone’s “The Line and the Dot” (traditional cell animation), “Wallace & Gromit” (claymation), “Gopher Broke” Oscar Nominated Animation Short (CG), and student work (college-level, varied processes).

The students will form into groups to build simple paper movie machines: thaumatrope, zoetrope, phenakistoscope. Each group will present their finished machine to the class, and give a short presentation on each machine’s history and to describe the particular operation to produce the persistence of vision.

DAY 2, LESSON TWO: KINEOGRAPH OR FLIP-BOOK (SHAPE TRANSFORMATION). The teacher will introduce the Kineograph with available examples for students to test. Supplies: at least 48 three by five index cards, and drawing materials. It is highly recommended that you number the back of the index cards, 1-48. Using either a pad of paper or index cards, solve the following visual problem: Your first drawing is to be a geometric shape, such as a circle, and roughly 1-½ inches in diameter. Keep your image area close to the bottom of the index cards. In the following 12 cards, transform the circle into another object—for example, the circle could evolve into a set of lips. And in the next 12 cards, try to get back to the original circle. As you do this, follow a different route from the one you took in the first 12 drawings. If you follow these directions, you will have a movement in twenty-four drawings, from a circle to something else to a circle again. Now repeat this process a second time—with your finished 24 drawings. In the next 12 cards, again transform the circle into yet a different object. Then in the final 12 drawings, return again to the circle. When you flip the completed book, you should see a movie that, while it lasts just a few seconds, creates a clear visual “beat."

Review: when the sequence of images are shown one after the other very quickly, the human eye and brain blend the images to produce the effect of motion, otherwise known as persistence of vision. Try these other options: Draw variations within this basic structure, and add these to you flip-book. Vary the amount of movement between drawings and the degree of complexity of the transformations. Add color. Try having a number of things happening at once. Sneak Preview. Save your flip-book. Later, with the 6.0 megapixel Olympus digital camera, you will be able to turn them into films. Instead of appearing as cramped drawings on small pages that are flipped with sometimes irregular speed, your flip-book can be produced into an animated short film. You will upload the digital photographs to the MultiMedia Lab V software. We can view it on a big screen, the movement will be more continuous and graceful, and the presentation will be more exciting. Helpful Hints: Keep imagery simple—using markers for boldness, don’t worry too much about perfect draftsmanship. The main idea is to develop a believable sense of movement in the allotted time.

DAY 3,4,5,6, LESSON THREE: ANIMATION TEST SEQUENCES. On day 3, the teacher will introduce each of the sequence concepts. On days 4,5, and 6, students will collaborate in small groups to complete each animation style test sequence. Sometimes within computer programs, the term animation refers to special visual or sound effects you add to shapes on a slide. Animation effects give motion to text, pictures, and other content on your slides. This is how you may have studied computer animation in other classes.

(In the spring of 2002, two independent study students used MSN PowerPoint to animate a drawing after viewing work by the South African contemporary artist William Kentridge. This experiment allowed us to use this process for future study.) Teacher will show a short excerpt from the artist William Kentridge, then show the rudimentary study by the students. We will be using computer program Multimedia Lab V to create an animation or a timed sequence or series of graphic images or frames together to give the appearance of continuous movement.

ANIMATION SEQUENCE – TEST #1, COMPUTER DRAWN OPTION 1 (Multimedia Lab V) Use this program to draw and edit directly in the program. Add digital photographs or scanned images to the presentation. Build all kinds of projects, slide shows, and button presentations. Experiment with the paint and stamp tools, special objects and effects, transparency controls, opacity, etc. There is also support for JavaScript, MPEG, MP3, Flash, and animated GIFs. (NOTE: clip art not allowed, only your original drawings) OPTION 2 (If Multimedia Lab V is unavailable, we'll use Microsoft PowerPoint – our original program to create rudimentary animations and included only to display the animations created for slide presentations.) Use this program to create basic computer drawn images, then repeat those images to create an animated sequence. For about 132 slides, the slide show equals approximately 7 seconds. You could conceivably have several objects moving independently in an animated sequence. Note: No clip art allowed. OPTION 3 (6.0 megapixel Olympus digital camera) Take photographs and create a picture file of digital photographs. The high-quality photographs will bring realism to your original objects and background for your computer animation on MultiMedia Lab V.

ANIMATION SEQUENCE – TEST #2, STOP MOTION Review use of 6.0 megapixel Olympus digital camera. Sign out camera for your group. Insert memory card. Set the camera on a tripod to secure viewpoint. Set up your subject (movement of subject depends on your ideas). Take photographs at regular intervals. Transfer images onto computer. Open MultiMedia Lab V and insert pictures from memory card. The images will appear in numerical order. Click on 1st image to insert on 1st slide. Go to next slide. Repeat process for each slide (you may want to keep notes to count slides – I always lose track). Save and title your sequence. Play your stop motion sequence. Add additional slides if necessary to create a smooth visual beat (persistence of vision). NOTE: This technique is also used for Collage Animation, Clay Animation, Puppet Animation.

ANIMATION SEQUENCE – TEST #3, HAND DRAWN For this test, you need to develop a simple drawing concept – imagine a transformation, a movement in time, etc. – create a drawing in vine charcoal or other chosen media. Secure paper to a wall. Set up the digital camera on a tripod, insert memory card. As you draw, also take digital photographs with the 6.0 megapixel Olympus digital camera at regular intervals – a partner is a great idea for this! Transfer images onto computer. Open MultiMedia Lab V and insert pictures from memory card. The images will appear in numerical order. Click on 1st image to insert on 1st slide. Go to next slide. Repeat process for each slide (you may want to keep notes to count slides – I always lose track). Save and title your sequence. Play your stop motion sequence. Add additional slides if necessary to create a smooth visual beat (persistence of vision). From these three tests, determine a plan for your final individual animation. You may want to expand one of the tests to a full animation or you may want to begin a whole new concept or idea. Since the process of animation takes time – do not delay. If an idea eludes you, begin to work on something, hopefully by working and idea will take shape and evolve.

If you finish early check out these sites: www.pixar.com/howwedoit/index.html (How we make a Movie, Pixar’s Animation Process),
www.amazing-kids.org (Amazing Kids Animation Station),
www.stopmotionworks.com (Stop Motion Works), do your own searches – and ask other students for sites for Flash animations and such (some are blocked). Also search using keywords: animation, persistence of vision, kineograph or flip book, etc. Also available, review VHS tapes of various techniques.

DAYS 7-14, LESSON FOUR: ANIMATION SEQUENCE, THE FINAL FILM Students will utilize the 6.0 megapixel Olympus digital camera and the program, MultiMedia Lab V to create an animated slide animation. Each animation sequence: #1 COMPUTER DRAWN, #2 STOP MOTION, #3 HAND DRAWN must be incorporated to create the final sequence.

ANIMATION SEQUENCE, THE FINAL FILM
Now it’s time to take what you’ve learned through the 3 animation tests and apply them to a final film. Somehow, someway you want to incorporate the 3 techniques to create a final animated sequence using MultiMedia Lab V. To begin, work out a series of small thumbnail sketches on a storyboard. A storyboard provides a visual system for making a detailed analysis of the film’s development, and includes a detailed study of character appearance and movement, backgrounds, and scenes and sequences. You may use this provided worksheet or create the drawings in your sketchbook. Add notes to help explain your idea. Show sketches to teacher for participation points and approval. Criteria: clear explanation of materials, clear sense of movement or transition, clearly drawn and labeled images. Then, create drawings, collages or take digital photographs with the 6.0 megapixel Olympus digital camera. Upload images to the computer software: MultiMedia Lab V, and add computer drawn effects (remember, no clip art – it really slows the sequence down, plus we’re artists here, we should design the clip art). The subject matter is up to you – just make sure to keep it PG rated and suitable for the public school environment. In addition to these techniques, there are many others.

Below is a glossary of animation techniques:

Cutout and Silhouette Animation – this technique is achieved by moving figures that have been drawn on a piece of paper and then cut out.

Time-lapse Animation – every frame is exposed at a predetermined interval, which may range from a few moments to a few days.

Kinestasis (also photomontage), kine=moving, stasis=stillness – a series of still pictures becomes animated through (a) variations of movement across them and (b) variations in the succession between them.

Collage Animation – is a technique in which bits of flat objects – photographs, newspapers, cloth, pressed flowers, postcards, etc. are assembled together.

Clay and Puppet Animation – (three-dimensional) the use of standard modeling clay and moving the clay at intervals. Clay lends itself to transformations or metamorphoses. The puppets tend to be free-standing and begin with an armature of flexible wire.

Line and Cel Animation – (traditional American animation), the name derives from the transparent sheets of celluloid uses for Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Pinocchio, etc. Walt Disney is just one of many important animators, also Chuck Jones (“The Line and the Dot”), Tex Avery, Max Fleischer. A complicated technique, cel animation requires many steps: a line animation or pencil test – sheets of registered (aligned) drawings (many, many separate drawings) photographed. There are many ways to align or register the drawings. Cel animation uses the transparent plastic sheet to save from creating as many separate drawings. However, each cel must be drawn and hand painted on the reverse side of the plastic/acetate sheet.

CG, Computer-Generated – we’re taking somewhat traditional ideas and using a computer to help animate the images. Though, our generation has witnessed the huge growth of 3-D modeling in CG. Two popular modeling techniques include: patch modeling and subdivision modeling. Patch modeling can be accomplished by creating points, polygons, splines, or nonuniform rational b-splines (NURBS). This is like creating an object in sections – a crazy quilt made of several patches. Subdivision modeling is sometimes called box modeling – one starts with a box shape which gradually becomes more complex.

DAY 15, LESSON FIVE: FILM FESTIVAL Students will gather to view and critically evaluate each final animation sequence on MultiMedia Lab V. The students will write critically about each sequence using a specified criteria, and finally, end the evaluation with an open constructive criticism discussion. The teacher will share a montage of digital photographs of students working to complete their animations. Students will self-evaluate their own individual final animation sequence with provided rubric.
Comments
BOOKS: Paper Movie Machines by Budd Wentz, Troubador Press San Francisco, 1975. Introduction to Digital Photography, Joseph Ciaglia, Prentice Hall, 2002. The Animation Book, Kit Laybourne, Crown Press, Random House, 1979. ART MATERIALS: Oaktag, Index Cards, Colored Pencils, Markers, Paint, Magazines, Fabric, Paperclips, Glue, Modeling Clay, 6.0 megapixel Olympus digital camera.
Follow-Up
Animation Movie Festival as listed in lesson plan. Students will display their animations for the public during the spring art show or any competition venue.
Materials: Point and Shoot, Digital SLR, Slideshow, xD Memory Cards, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries
Other Items: Tool Factory softward MultiMedia Lab V
6.0 megapixel Olympus digital camera