new art teacher/ middle school -I'm trying to prove my case of the benefits of teaching animation to my students

I'm a new middle art teacher trying to prove my case of what a student would learn during the creative processes of animating a film short.  Animation gurus out there, do you have any animating experiences you could please share to add to my case? - Thank you so much!

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Comment by Emily Kulbacki on July 13, 2018 at 3:21pm

Hi! I'm not an animation guru just an enthusiast so I'm not sure if my feedback would be useful, but I love the idea of having students learn animation in middle school.

Like you, I'm an educator (I teach philosophy) and I find that I use my philosophy skills all the time in the studio. Work in the studio also helps me to hone these skills and to become better at them  so maybe some of my experiences could help you build your case? I hope so, it's a great case to make. 

When I'm in the studio a large part of the creative process relies on my critical thinking skills. Just like in philosophy, I need to be able to take a number of very disparate activities/ideas  understand how they connect and then sequence them in a rational way. For example, I need to create a story, record a soundtrack, build puppets, choose appropriate colors for the background, figure out the lighting and decide how to frame a shot. Then I need to take all these "to do" items and sequence them in a way that leads to the successful creation of a film. 

In addition to developing the big picture thinking and process thinking of this process, I need to be able to successfully articulate my ideas to others in the studio not only in picture form, but also verbally and in writing. This means I'm always working on my communication skills.  

When I don't quite know what to do or when I encounter a problem I need to understand how to research best practices and then implement them to the specifics of my film. For example, if I don't know how to get a certain look on a puppet or how to frame a shot for maximum effect I need to know how to seek out the kind of expertise that gets results. If I can't find what I'm looking for I need to practice getting creative, thinking outside the box, and experimenting. 

Some other skills that I think animation helps to develop are the ability to work with others, the ability to problem solve in a group setting and personal tenacity. 

I hope that helped in any way.

Good luck with your project!!

Comment by Simon Tytherleigh on Monday

So many skills, that give practical application to subjects like Maths: scale, proportion, measuring, timing.

Learning to pay attention to details and observing movement are also skills useful for any sort of art, but even things like design and architecture.

Then there are the practical problem-solving things like - how do I get this thing to move in this way, using which materials. Kids often don't have many practical skills (because we seem to value academic ones more), so developing a familiarity with materials has to be worthwhile.

Then there are the film studies - how do you make a shot that looks exciting? - that will give them an insight into how movies get made, and perhaps also an appreciation of how much an audience is influenced by the choice of shot. Lighting helps to give an appreciation of not just the way things can be lit but also the limitations of what the camera can see.

I hope above all that you can impart to your pupils the notion that even with limited resources it is possible to make something beautiful and worthwhile. Good luck!

Comment by Adam Taylor on Tuesday

The physics teacher at the local high school uses stop-motion to help the students visualize the mathematical concepts he is teaching.  I visited to briefly assist.  

Comment by Charles Brunson yesterday

Is this crazy? I'm considering to have students build a small interactive point-and-click game, kind of like the Neverhood from the 90's. We could shoot stop-motion clips of a character carry out movements (in green screen,) create an event library filled with game actions. Then the students could use Scratch or Unity 3D to implement, code the game. I would have to also teach game-development combined with stop-motion elements. The game would have to take place in the one-room story setting/ stage and limited characters to pull it off.  I was thinking this could achieve students to learn skills in code,(literacy,) storytelling, game-planning, teamwork, coupled with all the other skills brought to the table to from filming stop-motion animation. Now, the crazy part is, I will have to learn game development and stop-motion animation with the students, I'm new to this, but have been learning game programming over the Summer while kids are out. With this project,  I would be walking in their shoes during the whole production. Being a new art teacher, I can enter this stuff with no fear.  I want to create the ultimate learning experience for kids. I would post updates -on project development. 

Comment by maddogmovies yesterday

Sounds like a big project. Animation will be challenging enough. Developing the game is a whole 2nd thing!

But if you know about game design, I suppose you know that you would need a set number of repeatable animations for your character. (One character? Two? Three?)

So if it was something like Mega-Man or Mario, there'd be a walk, a run, jump, squat, shoot, throw, and fall. So make a list of the actions you'll need and how many seconds (and frames) each should be.

I don't know what you have access to for camera and software, but I came up with a nice top-down approach for some of my students. Using Stop Motion Studio on iphone and a stand I built out of wood with some LED lights. (See pic.)

Comment by Charles Brunson yesterday

Wow! That is nice setup maddmovies!  Love it! Thank you to Maddmovies, Emily, Simon, and Adam for reaching out - sharing!  I'm debating about teaching student's Clickteam Fusion as the game engine. It's not as much coding involved but the fundamentals are still there. "Five Night at Freddy's "game was developed in this game platform. My thinking, the game could be constructed with gameplay, kinda like Don Bluth's "Dragon Lair" or the Neverhood. The movements of character were pre-made moment videos of stop-motion bits which are pulled from a library when the player makes a choice. They call it "random access," in the programming world. I'm thinking the kids can make possible wire frame - claymation characters for game objects. The whole game first will have to be storyboarded, everything thought out before the character designs happen. I'm going to try to keep them in a real-project base - workflow environment, I want it to be a genuine experience. The game will be made as kinda like a preview game, to then build on - maybe build game sections each year, until it's completed. Students from year to year would be a challenging to build on, what was created in the previous part. I was thinking of having kids to capture stop-motion with iPads. Edit and export stop-mo clips using iMovie. 

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