Hold on…a creative area which explores short film, moving image, video games, motion graphics and special effects? This must be a dream!? Well by the looks of it our mentor, Chloe Rodham, has made the dream a reality for North East schools. For this year’s TICE Programme, we were thrilled to pilot Animation at Boldon School and Churchill Community College.

To break the ice, Chloe sat down with the students to introduce herself properly and share her creative journey thus far. Chloe works in a variety of digital and traditional techniques to create short films, using her specialism in stop motion techniques and After Effects animation. Just by looking at her portfolio of work, it’s pretty astounding to see not only the quality but the variation of work Chloe has produced over the years. She explained the scope of possibilities for this sector and how jobs can go from creating a stop-motion graphic to a music video. As students began to dig deeper, they realised just how true that was. If an individual lacked in confidence regarding technology, they could explore drawn animation. If they lacked in confidence regarding putting pencil to paper, they could look into CGI gaming. There’s something for everyone.

Okay, enough of the chit chat. Time to get the pencil cases out.

Next step was to have a go at some animation skills, first of all, character design. Each student was given a keyword with a character trait. For example, a shy Pirate or an energetic Astronaut. The task was to design a character using those two words, taking artistic inspiration from animated characters from Nightmare Before Christmas and Monsters Inc. to see how their shapes, poses and colours gave clues about their personalities. Not only this, but they also attempted to draw their characters from more than one angle in the same way a professional character designer would make a document called a turnaround.

Once everyone had designed their characters the students teamed up to try out another animation skill. A walk cycle. Even the name sounds challenging!

Chloe had created some watermarked paper of the 24 drawings in different positions that created a loop of a character walking. The students decided which elements they were going to take from everyone’s characters – the hat off one character, the sandals off another and they also worked out who was going to draw each part on 8 frames each group had to complete. They worked super hard to get all their drawings finished and demonstrated some great teamwork skills to complete the task efficiently and effectively.

After a well-deserved breather, the students gathered around and began to think about the industry itself. The questions we rarely think about. What needs to happen before an animation advert is aired on the TV? Who comes up with the idea and pre-production materials needed to pitch the concept? To put their newly-found knowledge to the test, students were given the same brief in groups – to design an ad concept for a chocolate bar that’s hard on the outside and soft on the inside. I know, it already sounds too delicious to say no to…

We started thinking about what objects also had those properties and the ideas started flowing. Then it only meant offloading those ideas and storylines onto paper, using a storyboard. Each group pitched their idea to the rest of the class and there some seriously ground-breaking ideas. We had a Miner in a chocolate mine unearthing a liquid pocket in the rock and a space rocket smashing into a meteor with an explosion of fruit. Dear Cadbury’s, I think we have found you some new clients!

To draw the day to a close, students gathered around to reflect on what they had learned from the day. To say that they have learned about the Animation industry and developed their skills in animation in one school day is impressive. They had even created a piece of work, which Chloe had photographed and collated during the lunch break to create a moving image. The excitement was audible as everyone’s drawings came to life at the end of the workshop.

 

What a great way to kick off TICE Animation. Thanks to all who participated with so much enthusiasm and willingness to learn. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Explore Stage.