vistamix.net is documentation of my one day workshop on stop motion animation. It is my work product for my graduate project at North Carolina State University’s College of Design.
Working in Information Technology has taught me a basic fact; that it is often not about the technology at all. It is about harnessing that capability in ways that are useful, illuminating, engaging, thought provoking or just entertaining. Being fortunate enough to work on several instructional technology projects led me to my own path; which was to Design.
I am the product of an engineer and an artist. I believe in beautiful things that can change the world. I believe in making. I believe in form. This course reflects that. There is a resurgence of making in the “real world” and I believe that education has to be part of that – making stuff, looking at stuff, talking about stuff (to paraphrase a good friend).
The Internet is a huge sponge for stories. There is unlimited room out there for people to tell their stories, factual or not. It is more important than ever before that education be a part of this – in the sense that students have to be the one telling the stories. Journalism is in question; who is the reporter any more? Can we help prepare ourselves for this world where we are the reporters, we are the film makers?
vistamix.net is an expression of these ideas of making, visualizing, telling and problem solving. There is no specific outcome beyond an animation with sound. It is driven by the basics of conceptualization, analysis, prototyping, making and assessing. Every animation a student produces will be nothing like another’s . This is a crucial aspect of this course.
The workshop is a one-day course for 18 – 20 high school students, rising Juniors and Seniors primarily. The entire time is 8 hours, from the start to a finished stop motion animation, complete with sound.
The underlying rationale for this project is based on several assumptions:
- Transliteracy. This is a term coined by Howard Reingold, but has it’s roots in classical education. It is an inherently multidiscplinary approach, where the belief that proficiency in multiple forms of expression, exploration and conceptualization can build new connectedness between these forms of communication, leading to richer understanding and facility. Specifically for this workshop is an introduction of visual storytelling, scaffolding on student’s understanding of written narratives and exposure to motion based media (Television, Movies, Internet).
- Learning the basics of narrative structure through story boarding. This is related to point #1, in that story boarding is a kind of visual outline for an animation, akin to a textual outline for an essay.
- Practice being media producers. It is clear that students already do this, but this workshop can help them become more proficient.
- Working with a combination of physical objects and software to solve problems related to telling a visual story. This comes from a fusion of two disciplines; fine art’s tradition of making, and an understanding of how a visual story can be told through study of animation and film – how is it similar/different to textual narratives?
- Learn fundamentals of design process through conceptualization, rapid implementation and assessment.
- Raise the bar of excellence when utilizing media production as part of teaching and learning.
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