Twice a month, a group of teenagers meet in Accrington Library. They are a a reading, art and activities group and are a Blaze group too. For this years Blaze festival, the group decided they wanted to learn how to animate and so Blaze got in touch with recent graduate Ryan Hammond, to do exactly this.
Here is a write up of his experience:
Not long after finishing my studies at university I received a great opportunity in the form of an email from one of my tutors, asking if I would be up for working alongside Blaze to help teach an animation workshop for local teens.
The group had decided on creating a stop motion film for their animation project so I began thinking about examples and ideas for them to use. On the first session I brought in some books about Wallace and Gromit to teach the group that concept and design were just as important as actually animating something, as well as the importance of storyboarding to plan out a scene, a skill that they could apply to any narrative based project they try their hand at.
After a few exercises in character design we decided on a theme for the film, which was dinosaurs, and from there began to think about a story. We came up with a narrative that gave everyone a chance to try their hand at character design, animation, directing, working the camera and storyboarding.
Story: A bird has challenged a bunch of hungry dinosaurs to break her egg, and whoever succeeds gets to eat its contents, everyone had a turn, but eventually the dinosaurs are shocked to realise hay have been tricked as the egg is in fact a rock, and the bird has tricked them all.
This layout of the story gave the film a sketch-like pace, with every new dinosaur being a new scene and each dinosaur using its design to create an interesting way to progress the story, such as a dinosaur with many segments bellyflopping onto the egg, or a dinosaur with a big flappy mouth trying to eat it. I really tried to put an emphasis on the design process for each student so they could come up with something interesting.
Once everyone had their own character, illustrated background and storyboard, we used a stop-motion program called HUE to record the stop motion with pieces of cut out paper. I used examples and key words to teach them the basics of timing and spacing, as well as other animation principles in their animation, which they all did as a team, crowded around the computer and the scene setup each taking on an individual role within the animation process.
Towards the end of the final session, I had the students use a USB microphone to record voices and audio for their characters which we recorded in Imovie, giving the group one last insight into the many roles within an animated production. Despite doing a majority of the editing myself, working with sound and the HUE animation software alongside creating the animation gave the group an insight to the technical aspect of the animation and production process.
Working with the group also helped me work on several of my own skills, such as leading and working with a group, teaching and conveying information in creative and interesting ways and managing a workshop in general, from planning the project to actually working on it and helping the group make it their best, It was a a fun and rewarding experience and I’d happily do it again.
Overall, working as a teacher and group leader has been a very fun and interesting learning experience, that I hope to do more of in my career as an animator, and I like to think that I gave the group just enough knowledge and ideas to spark their interests and imaginations into working on more animated and/or illustrated projects in the future.
To see more of Ryan’s work and ‘Like’ him on Facebook here