In my last post I talked about going backstage to see SRT’s Treasure Island actors at work. I really enjoyed the tour because I have been talking to the kids about actors, CGI, voices behind animation, etc. So the tour really added a different dimension to our learning.
Like many families, we enjoy going to the movies. While movies are very entertaining, I think it’s also important that children know that it’s just entertainment, and that it’s not real.
My favorite introduction to the concept of actors is a Bubble guppies episode where they talk about actors, and easy for kids to understand. I couldn’t find it on YouTube though, sorry! These days I am often telling the kids about other movies a particular actor might have starred in, or show them clips of actors recording voices for animation. I like this one showing all the actors from Despicable Me, and this other one just showing Steve Carell as Dr. Dru. Most recently we saw Bedtime Stories on HBO (lovely movie!), and Mittens was a bit in disbelief that Adam Sandler was also Drac from Hotel Transylvania. I like this clip that matches the voices with the animation from Hotel Transyvania 2.
When it comes to special effects, I think the Lights! Camera! Action! show at Universal Studios Singapore is a wonderful way to show how a scene can be created in a controlled environment. I made it a point to explain that the people who work on movie sets are experts at their jobs and while some elements might be dangerous, like fire or bombs, they know precisely what they are doing, if not they will rehearse it first, more specifically this is to drive the point that we do not try this at home!!
We also really enjoyed the Dreamworks Animation exhibition that was recently on at the Marina Bay Sands Art Science Museum. We got to see 3D clay figurines and models that animators based their drawings on, and the kids got to try their hand at using computers to quickly change a scene, e.g. the colour of the frame. They showed story boarding, and there were computers where you could draw your own short clip frame by frame. My favorite was the Dragon Flight – a 180 degree screen which showed a How To Train A Dragon clip which built up slowly from line drawings to the final finish that we see on screen, but also the screen and the animation made it almost like a 3D ride! You can see more of the Dreamworks technology in this clip.
There were also hands on activities such as making your own flip book, which although his actually much harder to make than just tearing out the little squares, was a great way to show them how animation used to be, and ties in with using the computer to draw frame by frame. This Disney classic clip shows how flip books/pages create animation.
Of course computers can do a lot more these days, and I like this clip that shows how the Hulk was created based on Mark Ruffalo’s facial expressions for Marvel’s Avengers. We also watched several other making of clips such as this one from Avengers, where we could see the green background to be filled later with CGI, and this that shows how the computer fills in the backgrounds and other CGI. This Disney Tangled clip shows a scene that is slowly built up.
I’ve told them about how sometimes the animators will have the actors peform the lines first and animate based on their performance. Or getting their inspiration from real life objects, such as a Norwegian town for Frozen. And about orchestras recording scores while “watching” the movie, such as this Frozen one.
To see a history of animation, do watch this clip about Disney Animation from 1938.
I hope that the kids don’t lose the magic, but rather are more inspired and creative!