The Temple

The Temple.
Film still from “The Temple”, a short film made by two boys in one of my workshops

Teaching art, and especially teaching animation is one of my most favorite activities. Usually I work on different projects with kids or adults at the same time. This time I’d like to show you a video which isn’t animated in a narrow sense of the word. But I take animation literally: it means something like bringing someone or something to life, and this what we did.

The two boys (10 and 11 years old) brought shadows to life with their hands, like old fashioned or Indonesian shadow theatre. Invisible Shadows was the title of an exhibition at the Museum MARTa in Herford in 2010. I teach there regularly, and during this special course we mainly worked on shadowy subjects in all kind of artistic media.

The Temple

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If your not familiar with the German language, the story told is this:

Once upon a time there was a lonesome temple. The sound of a gong could be heard everyday. (Gong stroke) One day, an archaeologist wanted to know who may strike the gong. "I'm going to investigate who has hit the gong!" said the scientist, and that's why he went into the temple. After he has entered the building, he heard the gong again. (Gong stroke) Later he found the room where the gong was: he discovered a light shadow – He definitely wanted to reveal who that was. (Gong stroke) Closer and closer he came – and found an old anchoret. Thenceforth they became friends and met regularly. "Bye, see you next week!" – "Yes, see you then!“

When I work with kids, I give them a simple script writing worksheet so that they’d get an idea of how to write an animatable script. It’s pretty simple, but amazingly helpful to guide them through the story. With these sheets you could develop a simply story outline within minutes (which is especially helpful when you only have a short period of time to work on a project).

(If you like, download either the German version of my Script (light) worksheet or the English one as a pdf file to use it for your own projects, and feel free to share it.)

All the props and puppets were cut out of thin black cardboard. The puppets have wooden sticks glued to their back so that they can be played without the hands being seen. The buildings also have triangular stands so that they stand upright. Everything is pretty simple and low-tec, but I like the aesthetics very much. We had a 250W spotlight lighting from behind and a screen of semi-translucent paper in front of our set ahead the camera. It took us about six hours to complete the film including set building, recording and editing.

So. Wanna too?

There are more animating workshops at the Museum MARTa in Herford (DE): I’m going to teach an one-day animation workshop for adults on Saturday, 22 January 2011. It runs from 11 to 5 o’clock, and we’re going to explore abstract and ornamental animation playfully.

This course is for people who always wanted to animate themselves but didn’t really know how to start. There’s no previous experience required. The fee is 20 €, and it would be great if you join us. Please call the lovely folks at the museum under +49 (0) 5221 99443015 for further information. Hope to see you there!

14. January 2011 by Jessica
Categories: Stuff | Tags: , , | 9 comments

Comments (9)

  1. Hm … I think, to create a dramatic story in less than 10 minutes (hehe) the 36 dramatic situations by Georges Polti may be pretty helpful as a starting point. Based on the chosen situation one can see how many characters (s)he needs and then may create the story following your cheet. Although it’s nice to have a movie in 6 hours – it’s better to make it not boring.

  2. Of course you’re right, but in my workshops it’s the most important thing to get the kids started. They learn so much new stuff like handling the technical setup and developing a story and making the sets and like in such a short time – I’d rather show them an easy way. If they want to get deeper into the things, they always can.

    Another good startig point for animation or short films with kids are jokes because if they’re good, they already have some kind of dramatic structure.

  3. Love the lighting especially. What a great start you’ve given these young people!

  4. The lighting is great, isn’t it? And it’s so simple! I like simple things!

    I try to make art and especially animation attractive to the kids… I meet so many grown-ups who are afraid of art – I try to keep the kids motivated so that they hopefully remember this when they’re older…

  5. > Another good startig point for animation or short films with kids are jokes because if they’re good, they already have some kind of dramatic structure.

    I agree. But I think, if you would add some dramatic situations to your sheet, this may help to create simple, structured stories. Your sheet may mislead to a story without tension. To have a climax predefined is often a good idea.

    P.S. Do your captchas have short expiration times?

  6. What do you mean with “some dramatic situations”? Is it like a starting point, or like something in the middle? I don’t really get it so far I guess…

    Perhaps we need a longer talk? I’d love to!

    And yes, the captcha expires quickly… My sys admin hasn’t fixed it yet… ;)

  7. With the “dramatic situations” I really meant the famous basic situations by [Georges Polti]( They merely indicate starting points, climax and characters – so it’s pretty easy to create a script based on these situations.

    P.S. You should fire your sys admin! Immediately! ;)
    P.P.S. And I thought your block would use markdown …

  8. the script worksheet is a great tool, a rope among one can take a step into the water and then another step and maybe considering a third step; just found the phrase ‘to make one’s way hand over hand along a rope’… which matches what I wanted to say. Thanks for the help.

    And the sound of the gong is really something.

    I sit here and read this articles and watch this videos and it will take me some time to let this images pass again and again through my mind. What you do and the way you teach is so… unique. It really touches a string here. Again and again.

  9. Michael, thank you (again!)! Your comments are very encouraging to keep on moving with the things I do.
    And you always offer a lot of interesting information as well which is great. Stay connected!