Sunday, March 25, 2012

Animated Students

As an educator I can’t imagine any better feeling than what hits you that moment when you see the light come on for a student. Usually that flash is signaled by widening eyes or a gradual smile or even outright laughter.  Friday I had the joy of seeing that connection being made a few hundred times over. Pates Creek Elementary School in Henry County has an annual Fine Arts Day where artists and performers are brought in to share their craft with the students of the school. I was asked to talk about the art of animation.

In several thirty minute sessions I spoke to students from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Each time I gave a brief explanation of how animation works – showing examples from the film. Then, we’d have just enough time to create a short piece of animation on the spot. I usually got a student from the group to help with a form of Stop-Motion called Pixilation – which is animating a human one frame at a time. Below are a few of the Pixilations we created.  Each is only a few seconds long so please take the time to view each one.

I want to congratulate the faculty, staff and students of Pates Creek. The whole day was a real joy, filled with intelligent questions, and great reactions. I also got to speak to a couple of young filmmakers. Two boys named Ben Peters and Aaron Page had already created some stop-motion animation and came back at the end of my last session to talk. They were so excited about their work that they had a parent burn a DVD of their short film and bring it to the school so they could share it with me. It was a 5 minute epic entitled “The Trojan War Lego Reenactment”. It is fantastic. It has action, humor and Legos. What more could you want in a film. They had submitted the film to the Media Festival and won in the county. It is currently under review by the State judges. I wish these guys and their wildly creative film the best of luck, and hope to see big things from them in the future.

Finally, I have to say thanks to Cheryl Newsted and Marcia Davis, the Fine Arts teachers who hosted the event. They are a credit to their field. Even though arts budgets are shrinking every year, these dedicated educators manage to bring this vital program to their school and do it with excellence.

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