Monday, January 25, 2010

Of Mice and Men - Three short scenes

These three short extracts were made by year nine students at the Newline Learning Academy in Kent. The students did a great job of adapting their understanding of this fantastic classic in just one day. Each group of five students chose a scene from the book they wanted to bring to life.

They were able to choose any scene from the story and all four groups veered towards the most dramatic scenes, involving plenty of conflict. This enabled the students to explore both the character's inner conflict and the external conflict situations the character's were in.

These two short extracts really demonstrate how animation, like drama, is a great way of exploring in detail the essence of a scene or a character.

Enjoy the clips.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Working with sound- POV. Keep it painfully simple. Part 1

My latest project is in Devon with a small group of Primary teachers on stage two of the Persistence Of Vision Project. Briefly this project aims to use animation in a variety of forms with different education authorities to explore poetic themes and poetry at both key stages in Primary. Running over a year there will be four training sessions for teachers from five schools within Devon.

Yesterday's session focused on two areas;

1- Group discussion and evaluation of their first attempt of animation with classes.

2- Working with sound.

In this blog I'm going to share the excellent work the teachers created and elements of the approach to achieving the outcomes in a short space of time.

So the afternoon was given over to "Working with Sound".

My aim during any training session is to encourage simplicity when devising ideas, so for this sound effect session, I played the group four sound effects that I thought had a poetic quality and would encourage visual ideas.

They were only allowed to use 1 or 2 of the sound effects in their animation, from the four I played them.

The groups then brain stormed ideas and created simple models from plasticine, this took about 30 minutes.

Then the groups filmed for 45 minutes.

Then using Movie Maker added the sound effects to their animations, as well as titles and transitions.

The whole task only took 2.5 hours to complete.

This approach to encouraging visual thought processes and focusing minds is a fun challenge and can be used with all age groups and abilities. Using a sound effect to stimulate ideas within groups also creates restrictions which again focuses minds and prevents ideas and stories from becoming too ambitious.

If the ideas feel uncomfortably simple I think that's good. Simple doesn't mean boring! Using only one sound effect to inspire falls into that bracket of painfully simple.

Poetry is about reducing an idea/experience etc down to a true and uncluttered essence, there is no reason why animation and film shouldn't do the same.

Here are their films.

The teachers now spend the next three months, working with their classes using these techniques for adding sound to their animations and allowing sound to influence ideas for visual story telling and as an opening to exploring poetry. I will meet them again at the end of April when we shall be able to watch and evaluate the work they created.