Animation Toolworks



Folk Art in the Classroom

by McAnim8

One reason animation works in the classroom is that this generation was teethed on animation. Students today have grown up with computers and velcro and animation. It's part of their cultural language.

Previously, animation education was audience based: how to get a job in animation? What style do you want: Disney or Warner Brothers&ldots; Now, animation is a contemporary folk art. A different generation had banjos on the porch. Animation is something that people can do at home, on their kitchen table, in their garage, in their classroom, and it's not uncommon that they do.


For a teacher to bring animation into the classroom, we don't need to stress narrative, character driven animation. The kids will probably gravitate to that, and they will be motivated. With that we have language arts, we have storyboarding and conflict, protagonist and antagonist, and staging; a range of elements of drama and literature.


But as an abstract medium, to make kinetic imagery, animation is math, animation is physics; animation is language arts, poetry and music. In the classroom, kids can tell their own stories, or you can use the math malleables you have in your closet. They can create a watercolor painting, one brush stroke at a time. They can make their sandwich disappear., one bite at a time. They can fill their classroom seats, a video yearbook, with students appearing one frame at a time.


They can have bleachers, where the bottom row shifts to the left every frame, the second row shifts every second frame, the third row shifts every 3 frames, every 4 frames, every 6 frames, etc. You see very graphically the value of a frame, the value of a part of a second.

We might be better off having kids animate their name than a 5 minute story. Kids ideas are ambitious and imaginative, they want to build extravagant things, and we cannot support all that according to our perfection standards, but we can according to their creative standards. It might be primitive or crude, but the kids see it and they fill in the missing pieces. We have had kids make silent animations, then provide the soundtrack, live, at an auditorium. Or they can explain the film, or do some on the spot verbal editing. They don't see the world through a rectangular frame. Animation is a magnet for the dyslexic. There are a lot of dyslexic animators, both student and professional. A.D.D. kids are often the leaders in an animation class. Animation can be a catalyst for re-mixing the chemistry, regardless of who is labeled TAG or troubled.


Another strong classroom idea is to create animation quilts, or animation murals. You can fit a grid of smaller rectangles (12 or 9 or 8 or 3&ldots;) into an animation screen really easily. Something different can happen in each square. In each square you can put kids' photographs, handprints, sequences, etc. You may not be telling a story, but you have a motion mural. Animation like this has been described as music for the deaf. It's visual percussion, it's colorful rhythm.

"The editing features are invaluable for character animation"

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