Wednesday, April 4, 2018

6 Reasons Learning Animation Makes Kids Smarter

iPad Spring Break Camp at the McLean Project for the Arts

I had a wonderful time working with these students last week. It was exciting to see their dedication, focus and creativity. I have a great deal of respect for their intelligence and ability to move forward successfully as they maneuver their world. You will see some samples of their work below. 

I appreciate the opportunity to help them expand their skill set and get even smarter! Here are 6 of the many ways kids get smarter by learning animation:

1. Putting Things in Context: What Does To Animate Mean?

I always start my animation workshops by asking this question: What does to animate mean? This is tricky because I have one very precise definition I am fishing for and rarely get it immediately. This time I did...which was nice. To animate means to bring to life. 

I want to boil things down to the essence of what we are doing. Pull away the associations to computers, cartoons, anime, 3D, all the details. Not that they are not part of an expanded definition, but not the essence. I wanted to get down the the basics, as an animator this is a very thrilling concept. I can bring a line to life and well as a whole universe. I love what I do and it's important to me to share the creative possibilities.

2. Conceptualizing: Sequential Imaging

Gone are the days when I could ask how many kids had seen a strip of film. Some have seen film, but most have not. I have my trusty illustrations of a row of frames and they understand. We then discuss that each frame has an image but they are still images. The images are changing as they progress along the line of frames. It is the fact that they are changing over time, or sequentially that makes the illusion of motion possible. Flip books are a handy way to practice this concept, even with the youngest kids.

3. Understanding Physiological Phenomena: Persistence of Vision

I find this absolutely fascinating. We can see this afore mentioned series of changing still images IF we see them fast enough, because of persistence of vision. Our eyes and brains can only process 10 to 12 distinct images per second. Our eyes retain an image for a nano-second after we see it. Hence, with a series of still images moving fast enough, we have the illusion of motion. Students have the opportunity to adjust the frame rate on their animations and see how that affects the visual flow.

4. Seeing the Big Picture: Strategic Planning

Animation requires a plan. You have to know what story you are telling. That doesn't mean things can't change, but you need a starting point and direction.  I don't always take time to have the students make storyboards but they do have to have an ideas before they get started. Have an idea, have a goal and work through it. 

5. Overcoming Obstacles: Creative Problem Solving

I have never worked on an animation project that didn't require creative problem solving. I like to emphasize how important it is for students to test their animations while they are working on them. When they don't get the results they desire, they have to figure out why. Creative problem solving is also important in maneuvering the apps we are using. I was pleased this session that so many students worked with Animation and Drawing by Do Ink which is more sophisticated than our introductory app, Animatic by Inkboard. I am certainly providing guidance and answer questions, but I'm not always available. They have to be thinking and solving problems.

6.  Critical Thinking: Finding Inspiration in the Art of Other Students

The exhibit at the MPA during our iPad Camp celebrated Youth Art Month with student artworks from schools in the Langley Pyramid. Staff at MPA suggested the students create a video project based on their favorite pieces in the show. I loved the idea and added that they were also to create at least one work of art  in Procreate that was inspired by one of their favorites.  Here are two sample projects. 

What's Next?

On Saturday, April 21, MPA will offer a related family program, Curate Your Own Exhibit. Erratic Landscapes: New Works by Artemis Herber will be on view in the gallery. We will work with some of the same tools and give your whole  family an opportunity to get inspired and put your favorite artwork together in a video exhibit. A limited number of iPads are available to rent for the day. If you bring your own, you will be informed of the apps you need to install for the workshop.

What has learning animation taught you?

Help us keep this kind of opportunity available for students. 
Share this post with teachers and parents who would be interested.

Learn more about iPad workshops on my website and in these other posts.

Animating Nature & Science

Learn more about my work and on this blog and our website. I have assembled a team of experts to create media, lesson plans and workshops to help students and families explore science with art. We want to spark curiosity and get kids outside as environmental stewards.

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