In stop-motion animation, objects are repeatedly moved in small increments and photographed, creating the illusion of movement when a series of shots is played as a continuous sequence. Stop-motion animation has been used to make classic TV shows and movies such as Gumby, Wallace and Grommet and The Nightmare Before Christmas. While the basic technique is easy to learn, the applications are endless. Last fall, Creative Art Works offered two after-school classes that employed different aspects of this simple yet powerful movie-making technique.

From inspiration to outline: A student at Global Tech Prep creates a storyboard. 

From inspiration to outline: A student at Global Tech Prep creates a storyboard. 

At Global Tech Prep, our partner school, CAW Teaching Artist Gabriel Lawrence and Citizen Schools Teaching Assistant Rashi Garfield introduced 6th graders to the three pillars of storytelling – objective, conflict and resolution. Students collaborated in pairs, creating storyboards to plot their narratives, building shoebox dioramas for sets and, finally, animating simple figures.

The hero (right) in From a Horrible to a Good Life returns to the safety of home after vanquishing an evil alien (left).

The hero (right) in From a Horrible to a Good Life returns to the safety of home after vanquishing an evil alien (left).

Students explored a variety of themes and genres. The Adventures of Super Boy tells the story of a hero and a villain who both fall in love with the same girl. In, From a Horrible to a Good Life, a hero must overcome his fears to defeat an evil alien who has invaded his home. The mystery, Attack on the Penguin, deals with mourning and healing after the Penguin Queen is shot by an arrow.

Young filmmakers at our partner Harlem RBI, have also been exploring the versatility of stop-motion animation. CAW Teaching Artist Jason Bell has introduced students to techniques such as white-board animation, paper cut-outs, object animation and a host of in-camera and lighting effects. In addition to learning the principals of clear story-telling and testing the technical aspects of animation, these middle-school auteurs learn teamwork, resourcefulness, and time-management skills. This class will continue through the spring semester.

We are proud to offer a sampling of student work from the Harlem RBI animation class. We hope you enjoy these clips.

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