Teaching Animation (5)

Last week I gave an animation class for kids at a local education center. I teached a lively (and lovely!) group of seven boys from the age of 8 to 12 years. The course was ment to give them a general idea about the possibilities of hand-made animation techniques.

Some of the kids were absolute naturals and we had a lot of fun with all the techniques we tried… We started with moving toys, next plasticine and sand, but since there were a lot of boys who love to draw, we also did classical drawn animation, too. (We finished 12 animated clips that week… They were so motivated!)

I’d like to share some of my favourites of the drawn animation with you, since these are well done for kids of that age. The boys have quite a faible for any kind of violent stories, so if you don’t like explosions and dead stick figures, don’t watch the clips. I simply wasn’t able to encourage them to draw any pet stories… I’m sorry for that!

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This one is drawn by Timur, 10 or 11 years old.

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Enrico is 9 years old and drew an volcanic eruption.

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Hendrik was our baby being only 8 years old, but I think he did a terrific animation.

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Bernhard was the oldest, almost 13 years old, and almost didn’t stop drawing again…

Violence in Media Projects With Kids

Violence is a big issue in working with kids of that age. I remember that we played cops and robbers or Spiderman against God knows who or any other story about two groups fighting each other when I was a kid. But the kids today see much more violence in the TV, on their computers or on their mobiles than we did when we were younger….

This is not meant to be a forum for kitchen table wisdom but I really wonder how to deal with it. I always try to point out to the kids that violence just for their pure aesthetic amusement is an absolute no-go. But the kids usually don’t perceive it as a problem because violence so often is presented as a pure a aesthetic action and not as a pathogenic version of healthy aggression in movies or video games. The kids often don’t see any difference between those…

Do you have any ideas how to deal with this? Do you have any, and if, what are your experiences?

10. April 2010 by Jessica
Categories: Stuff | Tags: , | 8 comments

Comments (8)

  1. I’m so glad you are bring hand-made animation to kids, Jessica.

    I’m not sure what to say about the violence but I agree it’s a problem.

    It may be that an entire generation (or even mankind’s future) is utterly lost already.

    However, even if that’s so, good people, such as yourself, can make positive ripples of influence that affect certain individuals for the better.

    In these matters, I always come back to the Question of Consciousness. And people like you can be the catalyst for nurturing latent positive aspects therein.

  2. m_) It is great what you are doing here…
    I am very impressed by it. I remember myself back in the days when I used to take care of a little girl (5) and she would see me working with clay and animating. Then she asks: how do you do that? “Well” I said “Magic really exists, Caroline” “What you need is patience and little by little, taking several pictures, your little characters can come to life!” to what she replied “Great, let’s make a cake!” and so we did…and I still have that animation of a cake. Of course we messed a lot and little could be done, but that was probably the first time I was trying to teach someone how to animate. I can imagine how hard it is…and it is quite admirable to see you are doing all this.

    m_) I respect you deeply.

    good job….

    keep up, keep alive within the arts…

  3. m_) Back in the days of not-self-awareness, I used to play Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct (Video Games) , but more than playing I used to watch it and enjoyed just watching the FATALITIES …

    m_) That makes me one of those kids. If I had something to say, I would probably feel VERY hypocrite..

    m_) I guess I also need help with the kids….

    m_) blood is not a game.

  4. First congratulations ! Somewhere I read the quote that ‘a sure sign for knowledge is the ability to give this knowledge to other people’. The videos are really nicely done – especially the one about ‘fire’.

    I can’t really give a maybe useful answer to the question about brutality or destructive acts especially int the boy’s behavior – this is something that kind of annoyed me my whole life myself for some reasons. There was/is/will be a huge source of aggression especially in the neighborhood I grew up (what you call a skid row) as in much too much other places in this world.
    Seeing the only way to let your aggressive potential out through destructive acts is a sad but most common way. Countless examples ranging from scratches, broken noses, partly ruined characters and lack of trust into other people (etc. etc.) are the results.
    I had the chance to take an interview with a super-nice but somehow very weird looking gentleman who holds the world record for the most tattoos on his body – and works as a circus arts performer as clown, juggler, sword swallower and so on since about 30 years now since he is eight years old. He comes – as he describes it – from a very dysfunctional family and when he started breaking into factories and setting things on fire as a kid (!) he found himself on a crossroad: joining the circus or ending up a criminal Leading all his energy and creativity for this or that career (this was a least as he described it).

    Learning how to cope with aggression and getting a channel for all your potential isn’t something that comes all natural – one learns by imitation. Which might lead one to the idea that acts of brutality and destructive acts of aggression towards objects or – in the worst case – against oneself or other people’s bodies (…) isn’t something learned just from the ‘real’ persons around you (mom, dad, friends, whoever takes ‘care’ of you) but also some virtual friends.
    I see blaming the media as a source of aggression and brutality as taking a scapegoat – a cheap excuse for own faults in general.

    Sitting there in front of the TV set with eyes wide open and staring like the paralyzed bunny to the snake mumbling “The media took our children by the hand an lead them into hell” is somehow cheap. It’s like giving political responsibility away – “bohoo – “THEY” are ruining our world and we can’t do nothing about it… because they are so unstoppable”.
    So what to do about it ? I don’t know. Maybe being aware of that problem and hoping that one have most of the time the energy also to do something ‘right’ when getting a chance helps.

    This isn’t meant as an affront towards you, or anyone in person – it is something that I hear and see everyday and that makes me at least very sad, that most of the time frustrates me and sometimes makes me really mad.

    Another thought: does ‘society’ really became so much more violent during the past years or do we just become more sensitive ?!

  5. Shelley, I guess that violence is part of our humanity somehow. I’d be proud if I could teach the kids that art is like a valve for things we can’t handle otherwise… But I also want them to know that violence is not fun at all… And that’s what they experience…

    Dan, welcome!
    I’m pretty sure that you aren’t hypocrite… You now could talk from experiences and that’s always better than being just theoretical… Why did you stop playing these games?

    Michael, your comment is longer than my post… ;)
    I absolutely agree that media aren’t the only educational source for kids. But they are, as people around them, very important. Most of the kids have mobile phones, and with them or the internet violent or pornographic content is much easier available… I always try to be an example of dealing with these topics in a creative way…

  6. Jessica, what you are doing with the kids here sounds fantastic. Those kids are very lucky to have a chance to experience hand drawn animation with you. I am amazaed with the quality of animation they did.

    Violence… yeah that is a big issue. They are growing up totally different than us. My daughter is 3,5 years old only and we already notice this violence thing… TV is the biggest problem. We let her watch some channels for kids one or 2 hours a day, if she is at home. We always control what she watches. There are some TV channels for older kids and I cant believe how much violence is involved in those films. Eveything on those channels are all about violence. Blood, death, guns, anger everywhere… Even if we do not let her watch those films, she learns about those “super” powered characters from her friends at the kintergarden. Couple months ago she wanted us to buy her a Ben10 watch. We did not have any idea about Ben10. Later we found out that he was a super powered character with a super watch. He pushes his watch and then he becomes an ugly super powered monster, etc… Eventually, we ended up buying her that watch toy. There are some casettes filled with really ugly monster pictures and that watch projects those monster pictures onto the wall, etc.. We had to buy that watch because many kids at the kindergarten had that thing. And if we did not let her play with such a thing than it was going to be a very special thing for her.. You know, when you prohibit something it later becomes her favorite thing.. It is really realy hard to have kid in these days. There is almost no way to let her stay away from those crazy violence advertisement. If we do not let her go to kindergarden than she would be all alone with no friends.

    Oh.. I am so sad about this problem. Before I had a baby I used to say that I would never let my babygirl play with Barby toys. You know that big industry for some companies to make money.. BUT now I have a daughter and we try to encourage her to play with barbies instead of those freaking violent movie characters.. There is no way out…

  7. I’m surprised how important this topic seems to be to all of you…

    Yaz, I’m pretty sure that you can’t keep violence away from kids. But you can offer them a way to deal with it. You can be an example of non-violence behaviour and of peaceful solutions. Aggression is normal and can be healthy, but violent destruction has to be catalized somehow, and I find making films as a part of the media bundle combined with reflection very helpful.

  8. My Experience:

    I have been surrounded by bullies during my entire childhood. I have seen violence frequently, and I have seen that on video games and TV. Was I involved indirectly? Yes. I watched my friends fighting, I watched videos being violent, and I even DREW violent drawings. Most of them suffering, and I still do. I have a tendency towards brutality in most of my art anyway. Now it has down a bit, and I am doing lots of character concepts that “fade” my artistic theme -the one I keep from the past. But I definitely have a big sense of suffering in my art. And that will always remain with me…

    Now involved directly. I want to put that clear because what it really means is that I have never been violent to anybody. Playing the video games was not really an obsession. I found it quite interactive how you could combine different “finals” doing different movements with your characters. My mind was not really focused on how much violence was there to deal with but how much variation and possibilities were available to keep me entertained. Why did I stop? Everything I once liked it ends up not calling much my attention. Not that I leave everything I once liked, but I reach a point in so many things where I think is time to move on, and I just do it. With music is very common, and with video games the reaction is slightly different. With video games I came to the point to think that I was no longer wanting to be entertained, and I was rather admiring the beautiful backgrounds or humor, or the characters, their personalities. THAT is what took me OUT, so to speak, to let me say to myself : it is indeed time for me to create my own characters, my own ways…. because truly, I was more an observer, and my brother would be playing..and all I could do was watching and admire the fascinating oddness that could come out from a flat screen. I still keep being fascinated by certain video games, but very frustrated the new ones are nothing like the old 80’s (late 80’s) and 90’s (early 90’s)