Creativity: A Stop-Motion Experience

“Creativity is about connecting things.” Steve Jobs

This past summer I decided it was time to learn something new. I enrolled in a week – long class on stop-motion animation at Arrowmont School of Crafts. The workshop was led by two folks from TinyCircus, a stop-motion animation collaborative, Greta Songe and Carlos Ferguson.

In past blogs I have written about my interest in digital media and about using flip video movie- making in middle and high school classrooms. This interest has continued to grow and stop motion animation is an area I have been anxious to learn more about. It is a great avenue to marry my work as a visual artist with my interest in film making and storytelling that has many applications for use in classrooms. Plus, I love looking at stop-motion animations; think Wallace and Gromit and Claymation.

It was fun and challenging to be in a hands-on learning situation again. There were thirteen of us in the class, from a variety of backgrounds with varying levels of expertise using stop-motion animation. I was the novice of the group and keenly aware of the discomfort a learner experiences when they don’t know what they’re doing. My learning curve was steep. The class was constructivist in nature requiring lots of scaffolding and problem-solving, both creative and technical.

The week long class was organized around morning and afternoon activities. In the mornings we received a tiny bit of direct instruction on the basics of stop motion animation and worked together to make a class stop-motion film, Bear Trap. We collaborated on Bear Trap in the mornings and worked on individual projects in the afternoon.

This was a challenging learning environment and an interesting model for teaching and learning. In future posts I’ll share some of the processes and scaffolding the instructors provided to teach us the basics of stop motion animation that lead to the creation of Bear Trap and to more complex and independent work in making our own films. This includes:

  • inspiration and idea generation;
  • the role of collaboration;
  • technical aspects of production;
  • and applications to classroom practice.

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