Physically Demanding Challenges
or: Teaching Animation (2)
As you’re reading my blog regularly, you’d know that I’m teaching two animation classes with kids in schools. A few weeks ago I introduced the students to pixilation, an absolutely outstanding animation technique.
Since their results are great and lovely, I’d like to share those great videos with you with their given permission:
My personal favourites are the restaurant scene above and the murder below. – The kids were doing a great job!
At that time, the kids and I were still working on the understanding of animation and it’s principles. I wanted them to learn about the lengthy process of animation by literally experiencing it. Each clip (except the short dancing sequence) took about 20 to 30 minutes and they had great fun – although eypecially the younger were moaning all the time it needed to complete the pieces. But they love the results! And so do I.
I brought several items that day I had collected randomly at my home, like a fork and a spoon, a teapot, some cups, a rope, juggling balls, clothes and stuff like that. They were meant as an invitation to play and the kids did their best as you could see.
Most of the time they moved their limbs and objects theirselves but occassionally some of the others helped to correct movements or other details like hair and else. We’re going to add sound effects to the videos later, so it might be much more fun to watch them again then.
Pixilation is a variant of animation in which real people act frame by frame like stop-motion puppets in front of the camera. The word pixilation might spring from the expression pixilated which again refers to the Pixies, an old English fairy folk – due to the weird, shaky or crazy movements this technique creates. At least so they say.
Norman McLaren is an artist who had made regular use of this technique. He seems to be the one who coined the phrase, and his film Neighbours (1952) is a great example of how it could work and works. Perhaps only Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer music video (1986) is a bit more popular object lesson on pixilation. You’ll find both Neighbours and Sledgehammer on youtube.
And I nearly forget to mention one of the greatest pixilation movies ever here, The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (1993) by Bolexbrothers in which they combined pixilation with stop-motion animation. Due to the sheer endless list of great pixilation films and videos it’s easy to miss one. There are a lot of contemporary filmmakers working in this field of animation right now.
Oh, and during my research on pixilation I found several information about the Sledgehammer clip. Did you know that Aardman was involved, and so were the Brothers Quay? Rumours say that a young Nick Park animated the chicken dance… I’m not sure about the Quay Brothers here, I always thought it had been Jan Švankmajer who added his unique style. However, I wasn’t able to find clear information about that. Do you know anything more specific? Feel free to add a comment!