A Fun Way to Learn About Animation

When I was little, I found this how-to that showed how to create your own flip book. I tried to create one of a person eating a popsicle, like the how-to suggested. A lack of artistic talent kept it from being useful.

In middle school, I fought boredom in class by drawing stick figure flip books in the corner of my textbooks. They weren’t too bad, actually.

If nothing else, I learned a lot about why my cartoons worked.

For kids today, they can go for the low-tech option of the flip book, or they can try their hand at a slightly more sophisticated form of animation: stop-motion animation.

(For the record, I’ve done this twice, both times in museums.)

At its core, animation (all moving pictures, in fact) is just a series of still pictures moving at a rapid rate to make make your eye believe there is a sense of motion between the images. It’s all about something called “persistence of vision”, the fact that your mind will try to fill in gaps between what your eyes see.

Don’t believe me? Check out this animated GIF I made a couple of years ago. It’s just two images being alternated, but because of the speed and persistence of vision, it appears to move smoothly between the two. (Both images belong to Miniclip.com. I’ve made no money off having fun making this avatar.) For something a bit more high-end, try to get a hold of the early seasons of the anime Patlabor and watch the ending. For the majority of the end theme, you’re seeing three images- a scrolling background, and the two frames being alternated to let Noa run. It’s really fun to watch because it’s fairly clear what’s going on in the animation.

All right, this ended up being more thorough than I ever meant to be. Make a flip book. Try your hand at stop-motion animation.


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