Animation Workshop at the Logan Launch Festival

Yesterday, I led two stop-motion animation workshops geared towards children and families as part of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts’ Launch Festival. Over the course of two hours, there were over thirty kids who worked in small groups to make twelve short animations. The most epic of these is “Monkey Kill” which was made by two boys who stayed for the second session since they weren’t able to complete their grand vision during the first one:

In the weeks leading up to the workshop, the amazing staff of the Logan Media Center purchased multiple licenses of Dragonframe to install on their computers and I helped them test the software using their digital cameras. Combined with my own animation set-up that I transported to campus, we were able to set-up five animation stations in the Logan Digital Media Lab. While the animation workshop was the impetus for purchasing and installing the software, the long-term benefit is that students and faculty at UChicago now have access to professional stop-motion animation software at the Logan Media Center.

At the beginning of each session I gave a 10-minute talk about what stop-motion animation is, the basic tools involved in creating it, and how to use Dragonframe. Then each group had about 30 minutes plan and create their animation. Some people brought their favorite LEGO models to animate with and others used a selection of toys that I provided. At the end of the workshop we played the finished animations back on the big screen for everyone to appreciate.

It was a whirlwind two hours yesterday, but it was a lot of fun. I had two volunteers from Fire Escape Films who helped out during the workshop by assisting individual groups, troubleshooting technical issues, and helping clean up at the end. Many thanks to Alejandro and Anurag for their vital support. It’s always great to see kids getting their first taste of animation and talking enthusiastic about their creations; it reminds me why I make animations. Last night, I was inspired to finally jump back in to to my own work in progress.

The format was very different than the 3-hour workshop David and I give at Brickworld Chicago every year, which is usually heavier on the presentation and lighter on the hands-on animation. David and I are always looking for ways to improve our workshops. What have your experiences with introductory stop-motion workshops been? What have you liked and what has been missing?

P.S. One kid who showed up was more interested in building than animation and spent about an hour and half making this cool circular creation:

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