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Understanding Motion

I find it the case that many people don’t really understand animation for what it is and for what it takes to make an animation. As a child, watching something like The Simpsons, or Captain Pugwash or Wallace & Gromit, I never really understood the process of how these fantastic creations were made. Like other TV, I thought it was filmed then published – just like that. My small undeveloped brain couldn’t comprehend the fact that each and every frame would have to be drawn or sculpted and that the shots were made from loads and loads of pictures. But, I recently discovered that children aren’t oblivious to animation, they just have a different understanding of it. As always, it’s only when you make animations that you begin to uncover what is involved in re-creating motion.

For the first time in years, my brother decided to look through his shoe boxes on top of his wardrobe last week that was filled with childhood memories and objects. One object he came across was an address book on a keychain (really rather small for an address book) which he had used as a flip book for an animation consisting of a small black dot bouncing around on the pages. Insignificant to him, I came to realise that children do understand how things like ‘onion skinning’ works and how motion is recreated, just without all the fancy technology and terminology, and without really thinking about it.

My brother’s homemade flip book

This makes me wonder what would happen if children were given the opportunity to create more animations and were taught how motion really works. From my experience, art, technology and science were three completely different subjects. But from my understanding, animation is a hybrid of all of these. You need the creativity from art to think of the character, or the scenery or the idea. But you need technology to put this into practice and science is required, in a roundabout way, when trying to understand motion. For example, when a ball bounces, it doesn’t fall and bounce up at the same speed, it falls quicker, flattens then bounces back up at a slower speed, physics would teach you this with gravitational pull, thrust and the rate of acceleration.

Understanding motion is interesting, and when you realise you understand it, you develop a deeper understanding of the works such as The Simpsons, Captain Pugwash, and Wallace & Gromit and begin to realise just how much thought is put into each and every shot. They become much more unique because of it.

I don’t think many children – especially girls, may I add, as this seems to be a male-dominated area, would sit down to make a flip book but if presented with one, like my brother was with this mini address book, I think children would latch onto it straight away. I’d love to see what a class of children, especially girls, would come up with.


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