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art tech club

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Keywords: animation
Subject(s): Art, Animation
Grades 5 through 7
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Davison Elementary School, Detroit, MI
Planned By: Tony Shopinski
Original Author: Tony Shopinski, Detroit
Day one
We begin with a review of animation history from Muybridge to Grommit. I have a trifold board with pictures of various techniques. We look things like thaumatropes (which many had made in kindergarten) and flipbooks (which many had also made in fourth grade). I also have some NFB of Canada shorts to watch. I show them a reel of film so we can see how there are many frames on it and I do a short demo with IStop motion using some rocks. I'll have someone move the rocks, another click the computer. We'll make a two second movie, noting how many pictures it took. I have sketchbooks for them and after looking at the comics page of the paper we discuss storyboard and frames of action. They are to have a short story/comic strip for next time. Though this sounds like a lot to pack into an hour, everything is done quickly as a lot will be used later.

Day two
We begin with a little exercise in pixelation. The kids will line up and take turns in front of the camera holding a pose, moving and continuing the pose. For example, one student will stand on one foot, move farther away and stand on one foot, etc. After a few minutes of this we'll watch. The one standing on one foot will look as if he had glided across the room.
Then we'll look at their sketchbook ideas and select one or two that we can do quickly. With one of two groups, they use paper, markers and scissors to come up with a background and characters. We'll then, time permitting, film it, using stop motion software and camera. They will operate everything.

Day three
Often we will need to finish last week's movie(s). Afterwards we'll look at editing. We use macs and imovie. I'll do most of the initial editing, demonstrating how to do it. We'll then make titles and add credits and any transitions. Then, we'll do a bit of narration (maybe) and add a little music and/or sound effects. We may look at a previous student animation, if we haven't already, and begin to think about our bigger movie project.

Day four
This is the day we wrap up our practice video, completing the edit process if not done already. Then, we look at various methods such as claymation, object animation, cut paper, etc. We talk about ideas for a movie project, charting pros and cons of several scenarios.

Day five
Now we need to get serious about ideas for our movie. Often, they are combinations of ideas to come up with one coherent story. We sketch, draw, model and come up with a story and make our storyboard. We decide on materials and who's going to do what.

The next couple of months
From the get-go they know it's going to take a few months to do this. We now begin working. Usually there are a few groups doing different scenes or parts or backgrounds, etc. This goes on for quite a while each week.

Eventually, one group will have enough done to begin filming. We don't need to go in order. Clips are saved and edited a bit as we go along. The students do the work. I pretty much oversee their work. Materials and sets are kept together on one cart.

Everyone, as a whole, views our progress and makes adjustments when necessary. When everything is put together we finish editing and add titles and credits. Then we put in sound effects. Narration is usually done at a time later when only the narrators are in the room. Some music is added as background in the end.

I usually take pictures of them working and will add them in the end for a minute before the credits.

DVDs are burned. Everyone gets a copy. We also enter a few student film festivals, exhibits and contests. We've won a Best of Show at the Michigan Student Film Festival in each of the last four years!

We spend the remainder of the year (from March on) doing short individual movies and photography, learning some basic Photoshop techniques.

A lot of the kids return to art club the next year asking to do more movies.
some of our videos have been uploaded to Schooltube.com
and on my web site: web.mac.com/weeshop1
Materials: DVD Camcorder, Point and Shoot, Portable, Art Tools, CDs and DVDs, Hard Drives, Tripods, Batteries, Cables, Flash/USB Drives, Animation, Hardware Devices