It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I’m about six weeks behind, so I apologise for that, and the fact that I will be putting out six posts in rapid succession to try and keep up. This term sees the year levels split for the first time, curriculum-wise. The Prep-Grade 4s are working on Animation this term, and the Grade 5-6s are doing Video Production. As I have been doing this term, the first class consists of a bit of background into what they’re doing and showing a PowerPoint with some history and some videos as well.
INTRODUCTION TO ANIMATION
The key thing to get across when talking about traditional “old-school” animation is that is a trick of the eyes. It’s watching a series of static images move very fast (typically 24-30 pictures or frames per second). The eye fills in the gaps and creates that illusion of movement, called the Persistence of Vision.
We talked about thaumatropes (Google it!) and the old flip books. I also showed them a very old movie I found on YouTube called “A Pool Plunge” from the 1920s where, for the first time, animation and live action film were combined for the first time. The kids watched it and we had an interesting discussion on how they thought the effect was achieved.
I showed them some more videos, including a classic doco from Disney detailing the making behind the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Although a little long, it does go through the various jobs that film makers have to bring a movie like that to life.
I also showed them a quick video on the history of Pixar and how some of their favourite movies came about.
Ultimately, this was a kind of warm up to get them excited about what we were going to do with animation this term. The kids were very engaged, lively and eager to get started next week.
INTRODUCTION TO FILM
The plan has been, from the beginning of the year, to split the curriculum in term three to allow for a special “advanced” unit next term. To that end, the grade 5-6s do not cover animation. They start with video production, and in term 4 when the Prep-4s do Video Production, the 5-6s will do post-production projects such as video and audio effects, sound mixing, subtitles, green screen, etc.
With this introduction, I wanted to give them an overview of how film cameras came into effect (hint: it all started with a galloping horse) but mainly focus on the different stages of film production and different key roles within that production.
We looked at pre-production, production and post-production, and what those stages usually entailed. We looked at what the role of the director, cinematographer, editor etc. do. Students at this age have some knowledge already, or at least some previously conceived ideas, of what a director or a sound designer does. No one has any idea what a producer does though (most adults don’t know either) so we talked about the business side of movie making – the non-creative side – things like sourcing investors, marketing, budgets, etc.
Again, aside from some front-loading (as we call it in the teaching biz) the real goal was to get them in the right headspace and whet their appetite for skills they were going to learn.
I had a little game we played at the end of the session where I played one of those montages you find on the internet that is “100 years of movies in 2 minutes” and got them to write down as many movies they recognised as they could. The kids LOVED this and got very competitive.