Frame by Frame - Stop Motion Animation in the classroom

24 July 2012

For five Compass partner schools, Term 2 was filled with colourful clays, cardboards, foams and paints. Condell Park Public School, Condell Park High School, Sir Joseph Banks High School, Kogarah Intensive English Centre and Fairfield High School participated in the Compass Stop Motion Animation program facilitated by Jack McGrath, a Sydney College of the Arts lecturer and filmmaker.

The program involves students and their teacher learning the basics of making a short animated film. The program is embedded in schools to help meet the students' curriculum outcomes. It is designed to complement the syllabus and teachers are urged to utilise the program as a tool for teaching their topic area or current teaching program. In addition, the Stop Motion Animation program is an engaging and fun way of building students' creative capacity. As McGrath points out, "Creativity [itself] is an asset and needs to be developed as much as other areas of the curriculum."

Stop motion animation works by shooting a single frame of an object, then moving the object slightly, and then shooting another frame. The objective is to create the illusion of fluid motion so the objects appear to move by themselves. Over the last six to eight weeks students were exposed to the film production process including:

  • Pre-production and planning: creation of basic storyboard, script, character model and synopsis. Use of camera angles in the animation medium to make meaning.
  • Production: Hands-on experience animating characters and production workflow.
  • Post-production and editing: editing, transition and video effects to communicate with the audience. Critical approach to animation texts.

At the end of the program each school will have its own original short animated film using the stop motion technique.

Jack and the Compass team were very impressed with the enthusiasm, creativity and imagination of the students and teachers. "The thing I love most about this program is I can never predict what the students will create. It is like a magic cauldron; you put the right ingredients in (techniques and structure), and you are constantly amazed by what comes out," said McGrath.

In Term 3, Bexley Public School and Kogarah Public School will be delivering the program with Jack McGrath. Students' works will be exhibited at this year's Compass Showcase on the 24th of November.

Visit the Compass photo gallery to see the students in action. Watch the final cut of the animated film. Enjoy!