Arts In Education

Animation Class Helps Students Bring Imagination To Life

Jamestown High School is teaching students how to animate with tools used in the movie industry. Using stop-motion animation, students are able to create their own movie with characters they created. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

In a Jamestown High School animation class, students can bring their imagination to life. It’s a place where the sun and a cloud can have a conversation or virtually anything imaginable.

Using stop motion and cameras linked to computers, JHS students were completing their final project Friday to create a culminating film with everything that they have learned from the class.

Taught by Kirk Frink, JHS teacher, the class begins with students utilizing index cards to create a flipbook with pictures to create a 10-second film. From there, the projects become more complex. Initially, the goal is to simply make something move.

Frink considers the course a “high-end elective” and prefers to have students with related skills or previous experience enroll.

Students were using clay set pieces and 2-D drawing cut outs in front of cameras Friday to complete their masterpiece.

As the course progresses, Frink said the students are allotted more creative freedom.

“This is really what makes teaching this class so exciting and rewarding that each student, and later on (in) small groups of students, have this expressive freedom to create their characters with their own stories to tell,” Frink said.

He attempts to simply provide direction to the students, allowing the creators to flesh out their own ideas free from outside influence. Often, Frink said the students already have their characters created in their imagination and in their sketchbooks. Already equipped with characters, he said his students are “eager” to bring them to life.

Frink will provide assistance with character creation and animation issues, but during class, at least on Friday, students were finishing creations of their own designs.

One student was about to film 2-D cutouts of a cloud and sun that will eventually talk to each other when the audio is imbedded with the video. Many of the students were using the software Dragon Frame to edit their work which Frink described as an “industry standard.”

Students learn how to formulate image sequences, audio syncing and timing during the editing process.

Additionally, students study famous films by certain animators. Students learn substance and technique like Disney’s 12 principles of animation. Animators like Yuri Norstein, Cordell Barker and Bill Plympton are reviewed to give the new animators context and references.

Frink stresses to the class that “animation is filmmaking.” He recalled telling them repeatedly that, “‘If they can imagine it, they can make it.'”

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