Fans of the Disney classics like Cinderella, The Lady and The Tramp, and more are already familiar with traditional animation. In it, the subject and scene are hand-drawn for each frame. It’s also known as 2D animation, classic animation, cel-animation, or hand-drawn animation.
There are tons of exciting aspects of traditional animation that may inspire kids. Coming up with the story and then writing a rough first draft will engage kids who love to write. Then, creating a storyboard will be a fun visual challenge. After that, there’s all of the work that goes into character design and the animation itself — not to mention putting it all together in post-production to bring the still images to life.
For kids and adults looking for more of a technical challenge, there are many ways to animate using only computers. Rotoscoping animation, where artists trace over ever frame of live footage to create lifelike animation, is a great way to learn drawing and animation techniques at the same time. Though it can be quite time consuming, rotoscoping might appeal to children interested in bridging the gap between modern and traditional mediums.
Remember the familiar bouncing ball that hops from word to word in a sing-along song? Well, those are motion graphics. Specifically, they’re infographics composed of animated text, shapes, and figures that offer a great way to add emphasis to a point (or a song, message, or even end credits) within a film.
While this process can be complex, with curiosity and the right creative tools, it’s definitely do-able. Kids who are interested in animation and film production but aren’t as interested in creating characters or developing narrative stories may want to learn more about motion graphics and how it can stand alone or add to other film projects.
Adults who remember the movie Toy Story are already familiar with computer-generated animation. Also known as 3D animation, computer-generated animation is used in many animated films and in live-action movies today. In fact, it’s often done so expertly that the viewer doesn’t even know they’re seeing something computer-generated. The process of 3D animation consists of three main steps:
- Modeling: This is the storyboard phase of the process where you establish the scenes, layout, and animation. Giving children the autonomy to determine these elements allows them to embrace their ideas and foster their inspiration.
- Layout: During this phase, creators decide on the look of each character and object. The technical applications encourage kids to appreciate the significance of each detail in the animation process.
- Rendering: The final phase, rendering, is where everything is compiled and put together into a final graphic. Now, kids get to see their vision brought to life after all the hard work — and the fun of creating, too.
Using relatively new technology, motion capture is taking the animation industry by storm. Motion capture is the method of capturing a live actor’s performance so that it can translate into a 3D character on screen.
Motion capture suits collect the real-life action. These hi-tech suits are tight-fitting and intricate, and according to nofilmschool.com, can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000.
This technique was particularly notable in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where Andy Serkis’s Gollum character was filmed using motion-capture.
If the young person in your life is interested in experimenting with this animation style, it could help to research film production programs in your area — particularly ones that allow children to dabble in motion capture without you having to shoulder the costs of the equipment.
Live-action production activities.
Not every child will be drawn to animation, and that’s okay. Capturing real people in real settings uses just as much creativity as animation. And, if kids can’t decide between animation and live-action, that’s okay too — you can always combine the two.
With any video or film project, screenplays are a creator’s first step to a completed masterpiece. During the screenwriting stage, kids face the exciting challenge of writing dialogue and telling their story through locations, setting, and mood. Inspiration for the construction of these elements can come from watching other films, school, friendships, or even just taking a walk around the neighborhood.
For children who find themselves struggling a bit with the screenwriting process, here are some screenwriting tips to help encourage them:
- Set achievable writing goals.
- Read screenplays of other favorite shows and movies.
- Write an outline but only use it for guidance, not as a concrete structure.
- Learn about screenwriting through books, classes, programs, and articles.
- Connect with friends who have an interest in or experience with screenwriting.
- Hold yourself accountable.
- Don’t be afraid to write what you want.
- Allow the audience to put things together for themselves.
- Don’t give up.