It is always hard to say good bye to summer and our summer camp programs here at The Messy Artist. One of the ways we make it easier is to schedule one of our favorite – and most challenging – weeks of camp as our final one.
We started offering claymation about 6 years ago as a summer camp session, and we also teach claymation off site, in special workshops. Claymation is quite simply clay animation – creating a video with clay characters, with the illusion of motion achieved by making tiny movements frame by frame and videotaping them. The kids learn a lot from the step by step process and tediousness of creating a claymation video.
We start by having the kids brainstorm all together as a class to come up with a unifying idea. For this summer’s camp video, “Finding Deeno”, it was dinosaurs. Then the class breaks into pairs and creates storyboards for their snippet of the video. Next, they create their clay characters and the backgrounds.
Finally, the animation process is ready to start – they move their clay characters a minuscule amount each time before taking each photo. It takes patience and precision. For these stop motion videos, 10 photos for every second of video are needed. That’s 600 photos for just one minute! In today’s world of instant gratification it’s great for kids to work so hard on something so tedious.
Each team takes turns using the animation set up. One of the skills they learn – and that the kids really enjoy – is to create the illusion of something either growing or shrinking. They do this by first creating the clay character, fully formed. To make it appear to get smaller, they cut off a small piece, take a picture, cut off another small piece, take a picture, etc. To make something appear to grow, the students once again create a clay character. Then they use a string to slice it into horizontal segments. They then add one slice, take a picture, add another slice, take a picture, etc until the piece is fully together again. You can see this a couple of times in “Finding Deeno”.
The students also make the titles for their individual chapters and their names for the credits. They get a lot of clay sculpting done in one week!
To complete the process, they created posters to advertise their film.
It’s impressive to see how quickly the kids learn this new skill, and how competent they are with the technology part. The excitement when we first load the pictures up to the software and see the images come together into a video is always a magical time in the classroom.
This year’s group of students worked hard on their claymation video, and we are proud to present it here:
We also have two claymation videos created in an offsite workshop this summer at Arts N Minds in Chatham, NJ. In this workshop, the class was arranged slightly differently. Each of the two groups was given the same topic to animate – caterpillars turning into a butterfly. The students followed all of the same techniques as in our summer camp (storyboarding, creating the characters, making backgrounds, etc) and made their videos. It’s interesting to see the difference in how they interpreted the same idea.