Animation : Teaching Animation by Catherine Bagaaya

Catherine Bagaaya

Teaching Animation

Hi, Cathy here from Kampala, Uganda. This is my first time posting, I am so excited to be surrounded by Creative from all over the world. I have a class of amazing brilliant young animators in the making and I am responsible for them, handling the script bit. I am more of a live action writer myself so it will be a learning experience for me too. Any tips you can share, I want you to know that I have done some reading hehehehe I don't want you thinking that I am lazy. Thank you looking forward to all your responses

Stephen Floyd

The big difference between live-action and animation is the amount of detail in your script. Animation needs more descriptions of settings, character appearances, important objects and so forth because animators need a clear idea of what they will draw. Live-action does not need this because the director makes such decisions, while actors improvise and add their own touches. But improvisation in animation is expensive and time-consuming, so animators need specific, thorough descriptions of visuals that are important to the story. Otherwise, they are essentially the same.

Simon Turnbull

Absolutely right. however, let me add this. When we're storyboarding we add a lot of extra business, new gags and subtext that isn't in the script. So there is improvisation, it just happens in the story department, not in animation. You can write a bunch of stuff into a script, but there will be a page limit, so you can't write in TOO many details. More than live action, but you still have to be economical

Gary Smiley

There's less drawing in animation than people think (by that I mean 'high' art). More about refining lines but mainly these are simple shapes. So for those who think they can't do art should still consider animation. The skill that has to be learned is managing what's forward and what's backward from where you are presently animating. With time, you become more comfortable with the project and won't panic.

Steven Vandrilla

Hi Catherine. We are in the US. We are working on an animation that has one of the 2 main characters moving between the Congo... Uganda... and the US. Both characters are real with powers that are imagined and actual. We are finishing rewrite now having finished a 3D animated proof of concept. Good to hear there are future animators being created in Uganda. Our church actually has an outpost in Uganda... we help the people drill for water, build, and farm. Bless you... Steve

Amber Greenlee

Oooh! I can answer this. I taught animation classes for several years to a variety of ages.

Clay is a great way to introduce young children into the concepts of animation. Do not use play-doh. Polymer Clay is tactile and produces immediate results with a variety of colors. At the end, kids can keep their models or mash them into a "rainbow clay," that I like to use for character hair and special items with future classes. When I taught animation classes to K-12 we would have them storyboard out their idea (Simple, three pictures, with a description for each picture. A beginning middle and end to their story. If they wanted to draw more boards that is great for them.)

Keep time limits short. 30 seconds for early projects with no more than 2 minutes for later ones if you are only working over a week or so with each group of students. If you have more time with them, then expand the requirements for submitted films.

Making movies is great for team-building and teaching kids how to work with each other. We would rotate each kid to every different job on set, whether that be director, camera operator, animators, or sound. We would make sure each kid had a chance to try each position for a little while. Usually, by the end of the period, they had found the roles that work for them.

Free programs you can use for stop-motion animation is the Lego Movie App and StopMotion Studio. Both have extra features for purchase, but starting out you'll just need the basic free version of each App. You can use iPhones and iPads as the cameras but I recommend using the iPod as it is the cheapest option and limits internet use. If you buy versions a few generations older than what is out now you can get them for almost nothing and they work just as well. Make sure it is the version with the camera.

We would go over simple 3-act structure and planning out your story. Depending on the age you might want them to write out a script ahead of time. The older the kids the more should be expected of them.

For backgrounds/props providing the kids with card stock and construction paper in a variety of colors. You can create and 3-fold panel out of cardboard or a science fair board (only make it .75 meters tall) for them to use as "their soundstage." Have them build their sets after they have finished their story out of the cardstock and paper. Give them markers to add detail. You can let them use glue or tape to build them. If you simply clip their sets to the boards, you can re-use the boards.

Once the sets are built, filming should begin. With the iPods, you'll need tri-pods. They make simple desk ones that are only about .5m tall at their maximin. Stop motion studio is point, click, make a slight adjustment, click, make a slight adjustment, click, etc. You'll have to demonstrate it to them only once but when they see what you made move when you play it back they'll get excited.

You can also have them "build drawings," using the timelapse feature in Stopmotion Studio. It's great for tracking projects over a period of time, just make sure you have them plugged in for power.

If you have any more questions I still have my curriculum books. Send me a message and I'd love to share them with you.

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