Sue Badcrumble took her children along to an animation workshop in Bitterne Park – and couldn’t resist a little go herself. Here’s what happened.
After spotting it advertised on bitternepark.info, my children were keen to go along to this animation workshop as we have had a bash at stop-motion animation at home in the past, and found it good fun!
My pre-teen son immediately got stuck in to his current favourite subject, and modelled racing cars in Plasticine. He then set up a circuit on a table, and the teacher Jed arranged an overhead camera, plus a side-angled one for extra shots, so that the cars could be slowly positioned around the circuit, with photos snapped at intervals, in order to accumulate the action footage – 'Claymation', we learned it is called.
Wild, but infinitely slow driving then occurred, with wheels careering off (centimetre by centimetre) into the wall!
It is a painstaking activity, that's for sure – children trying this for themselves will certainly learn the immense effort and inventiveness that goes into the production of famous stop-motion films such as 'Coraline' and 'Chicken Run'.
The software being used allowed very easy access for even small children
Jed, and his assistant Jamie, were on hand to help with the cameras, lighting and general set up, and answer all questions. Jed explained how storyboards are developed, how to plan and sketch out ideas for an animation sequence, and the tricks that can be used to make it all come together.
He had little films and footage from other events he has run, which he showed us on laptops, to demonstrate techniques or give the children ideas. As an experienced teacher, his calm, patient but clearly enthusiastic knowledge was very evident.
Other children who had come along were occupied in modelling exciting scenarios such as alien beings eating cake at birthday parties etc, all in lurid Plasticine form - and there was a lot of laughter as we were played back the little films they devised!
The software being used allowed very easy access for even small children, as they could see where they had positioned things on screen, and re-adjust them slightly before clicking a button for the next shot, with Jed and Jamie ready to bring it all together at the end.
My teenage son was entrusted to explore the equipment for himself, and tinkered to devise a timelapse camera method to record his pencil-drawn tree 'growing' on the page. Even I couldn't resist having a tiny go myself, moving bottle caps around a table to make a dancing scene - dozens of tiny moves and camera snaps which resulted in a 'film' of a few seconds duration - how much more I appreciate the patience of those who work for Aardman Animation now!
Next time we go along (sure we'll be back) my children will probably have a go at creating some Lego action sequences, as our efforts at home could certainly do with the expert advice and equipment that Jed has on offer.
Animation workshops take place at Cobbett Hub and Library on Saturdays from 1pm to 4pm until July 14. It’s £3 per hour or £8 for the three-hour session, and parents are welcome to stay or go. For more information click here, or call or text Jed on 07970 821877 to discuss or book.