SchoolArts Magazine

MAY-JUN 2013

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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@R+ Teaching animation In this example, the "@" symbol is animated to bounce in and out of place using Adobe Flash. David Gran T he idea of bringing artwork to life is in itself a great argument for including animation inyourcurriculum.However, the skill set that students will obtain with experience in animation is applicable to any number of creative fields they might pursue in the future. Animation, along with its closest relative, motion graphics, form the basis of much of the entertainment and advertising industries. Filmmaking, television, advertising, and game design all seamlessly integrate animation into various aspects of production. Even "live action" films and television programs today may include a variety of visual effects and compositing that is actually animated. Teaching Resources There are some fantastic resources for teaching animation on the web, and no better place to start than the appropriately named Teachanimation. org. Karin Gunn's website contains a wealth of resources, including project ideas, examples, lesson plans, and useful links. From here you can find lessons appropriate and engaging for elementary through high school classrooms. 24 May/June 2013 SchoolArts Animation Toys An excellent way to demonstrate the basic visual principles behind animation (which is commonly explained by the idea of "persistence of vision," but is probably more accurately attributed to the "phi phenomenon") could be through an examination of the earliest toys for creating animations. Long before Steamboat Willie ever set sail, kinetescopes, zoetropes, and other optical "toys" brought still images to life. Jack and Beverly's Optical Toys ( html) not only has excellent examples of these objects, but the pages on zoetropes and thaumatropes have downloadable templates for making your own. Simply have students replace the included images with their own drawings to create tangible animations they can hold in their hands. Free and Low-Cost Animation Programs There are plenty of excellent choices for learning animation on the computer with free and low-cost programs. Boinx's iStopmotion for Mac (www. is an excellent choice and a popular program for stop-motion animation, and is also availablefortheiPad.Ifyouhaveone of the Adobe Suites for your computer, it is likely you also have access to Flash, the perfect program for learning both frame-by-frame and tweened animation. For advanced classes or students who want to give three-dimensional animation a try, Blender ( offers the power of professional programs like Maya or 3D Studio Max for the very attractive price of "free." The learning curve for Blender is steep, but the results are impressive. Once students understand the fundamental skills for creating the illusion of movement, the applications are infinite. I've collected a variety of animations created out of surprising materials or that take unexpected forms at Hereyouwillfindanimationsmade of food, lights, and bicycles, among other things. Watching these videos begsthequestion:Whatcanyourstudents bring to life? David Gran teaches high school art and film classes at the Shanghai American School in China and is the author of The Carrot Revolution, a blog about twentyfirst century art education (

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