Animation is the process whereby still pictures are turned into moving pictures. This is done by flashing a series of images before the eye in rapid succession. Individual drawings are called cells, individual photographs are called frames. Animation is used in cartoons, television, and film.
The greater the number of images used, the smoother the animation will be. In film, for example, still images go by at a rate of 24 frames per second. Most cartoons use about 12 cells per second.
Of all animation techniques, the flipbook is one of the easiest and most familiar. A flipbook is a booklet containing a series of images that, when you thumb through quickly, are animated. Some of your students may already be making flipbooks; this is an excellent opportunity to explain why it works. Like the thaumatrope, the flipbook also works on the principle of persistence of vision.
Begin by discussing and modeling this activity with the class as follows: Who knows what animation is? Right, cartoons! Did you know that a cartoon is made from many still pictures? They aren't really moving -- they just look like they are. Animation means turning still pictures into moving pictures.
Does anyone know what a flipbook is? Have you ever made one? A flipbook is a cartoon (or a movie) that you can carry in your pocket. We are going to make a flipbook.
Take out the Flipbook Forms worksheet you have photocopied. It is best to have the individual cells cut out before you begin.
Ask one of the students to put the images in order, or you can do so as a class. For younger students, this is an excellent counting activity. It is also the beginning of storyboarding. You might also want to give each student a copy of the worksheets (although this is a lot of photocopying).
Once the images have been placed in order, ask the students to look closely at them. Are they all the same? No. Each one is different.
Stack the images, then tap the stack on a hard surface a few times, to make sure the edges are lined up evenly. Staple the left side together. FLIP OUT!
Note: Flipbooks do not work very well when standard writing paper is used, unless you have many pages. For future projects, use a heavy paper so you do not need as many individual images. It might be useful to have a ready-to-use box of flipbook sheets on hand for students to use at will.
Now let the students make their own flipbooks. Do the first ones together. Give each 10 sheets of flipbook paper (you can increase the number of sheets later). Students should lay the sheets out on their desk, and number them from 1 to 10 on the top edge (the edge that you are going to staple). This is an excellent exercise in listening, following directions, and counting.
Now the students can begin drawing the cells. A few examples that are easy for beginners are a bouncing ball, or a fluttering butterfly. Sheet 1: Ask the students to draw and color a ball near the bottom of the sheet, on the left side. Sheet 2: The students draw the same ball, but now it is a little higher on the paper. Continue with all 10 sheets.
After they finish the drawings, students will stack the sheets in order. You should staple them together; the large stapler is difficult to handle. Cut a piece of plastic tape the same width as the flipbook, and place it over the edge with the staples. This covers up the potentially sharp edges of the staples. It also makes a nice finish -- similar to a book binding.
After demonstrating how the flipbooks turn still pictures into moving pictures, you should take some time to talk about why it works.
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