Group Stop Motion Music Interpretation.
Grade Level: Grade 7-8
Time Needed: Six 50 minute class periods
Focus: The purpose of this project is to give the students a chance to combine stop motion animation with critical interpretation of music.
a. 126.96.36.199.1 - Analyze the elements in media arts such as image, sound, space, time, motion and sequence.
b. 188.8.131.52.3 - Develop an artistic statement, including how audience and occasion influence creative choices.
c. Work as a group to create a visual response to an auditory expression.
Motivational Resources: The students can be influenced by any number of videos found online that are made using figures and the stop motion technique. They will view at least one video on storyboarding as well as one video having to do with stop motion animation.
Art Materials: Clear Tape, Digital Camera(s), Tripod(s), Materials for creating an environment for the characters (paper, objects found around the classroom, other ideas), Pipe Cleaners, Clay, Pencils, 3X5 note cards, Scissors, Colored paper, music to be determined by the instructor.
Introduction to Lesson: Animation as we know it is a way of creating moving images using slides played in a fast enough speed to display "movement." Many animations begin with a plan called a storyboard, which gives an outline and visual layout of the animation through individual panels usually drawn on paper. (Paries) Stop motion in particular is using elements existing in reality and usually using a still camera to take each frame, manipulating the subject by hand between capturing frames. Stop motion often utilizes human like figures to give the illusion of bringing life to lifeless objects. Barry Purves talks of how to bring life to these "puppets" in a way that evokes life in these otherwise inanimate objects. By using subtle movements over a longer period of time, animation creates a trick to our eyes.
The intent of this project is to challenge the students to both analyze a piece of music and proceed to represent it in a visual way. The purpose is not to make a music video, but instead to create a visual interpretation of what they hear. Art is an interactive experience that also acts as a language. Music is also a universal language, one that is open for all to understand. (Brun). This assignment is made up of two main parts, the first being a critical understanding of a piece of music as selected by the instructor. The second part of the assignment is to translate what is heard and create a visual response to it first through storyboards, and then a stop motion film of around a minute in length. The entire class will use the same piece of music. Suggestions would be instrumental pieces in nature, with the inclusion of many musical changes to give the students more to work with. Through the course of the project, students will work in groups to create a film that visualizes a response to the music, without the necessity to be played along with it.
Class 1: Introduce the class to stop motion animation as well as basic storyboarding. Use an example like one that could be found on Youtube to show both storyboarding and stop motion animation. Instruct the class on the idea that animation is made up of many images to create the illusion of movement. After the class is familiarized with the ideas of stop motion and storyboarding, introduce them to the second aspect of the project by having them listen to the selected piece of music. After they have listened to it, ask for thoughts that come to their mind when they hear this music and put them on the chalk or white board. These can be colors, feelings, textures, etc. These can be physical or emotional aspects. Inform the students that they will be split into groups of 4-5 and they will ultimately be creating stop motion films that respond to the music they've just listened to. Then break them into groups of 4-5 students a group and provide them with note cards and pencils to begin storyboarding. Push the idea of abstract rather than conceptual subjects, this means rather than realistic forms, they should use forms that best convey the ideas they have for their short films. Play the piece of music one more time at the end of class and collect the finished storyboards.
Class 2: For this class the students will be given access to sections of the classroom to film their movies. Once the students are in their groups, give them the art materials listed as supplies and play the piece of music once they are situated. Rather than playing the music on loop, consider playing the music every ten minutes so the students have more mental freedom to express their interpretations rather than being hit over the head with repetition. They are then to utilize any supplies given to create an environment for their films. They should be instructed to use low picture quality on a 4x3 picture ratio (640X480 pixels), as that will make the editing process much smoother. Also touch on the importance of keeping the camera still and also creating many frames using small changes because each frame will only make up about a tenth of a second. The students should designate and rotate around alternating who will be manipulating the scene and who will be taking the photos. Enforce ideas of creating a theme using color to convey emotion. This is also the time to remind them of some animation techniques such as using their hands as long as their hands are of the frame (this can be done by using clever camera focus). Today is devoted to gathering images and at the end of class or whenever the groups fill their memory cards, they will transfer their images to the computers they will be editing on.
Class 3: This class will again be devoted to capturing images just as the previous session. Groups will need to generate a large amount of images to create a fluidic film, and so this class and the next will be dedicated to this purpose. As a way of presenting the pieces, play the music for the class less and less frequently. While this is up to the individual instructor, it is important to allow the piece to retain what it is, rather than become background noise to the groups. Students will once again back up their images so as to begin where left off for the next class.
Class 4: As stated, this class will be devoted to the generation of frames for the film just like the last. If groups begin to finish, they may begin editing their films. To do so, they should bring their films into iMovie or whatever video editing software they can find. Only play the music once or twice today. The students can drag their images directly into iMovie and change the time of each frame to about one tenth of a second or less. The less time each clip is, the cleaner the animation will be but also the shorter the film will be. Students must balance this so that they create a film that reflects their interpretation about the piece.
Class 5: The entire class should be editing their films this class period. When students finish, have a productive activity for them to work with. Go around helping with any technical needs.
Class 6: The groups should be given the first part of class to finish their films. Then they will be asked to present their films. As the instructor, this is a chance to open up a discussion. Running different kinds of music to the films the students have created can create contrasts. Ask them if this creates different feelings for the pieces or if their feelings can change. What should be displayed is a wide variety of interpretations that work like the telephone game in which the beginning message is the same, but as it progresses, changes can take place. Being that the case, the less the original piece of music is played throughout the project, the wider the interpretations to it will be.
The evaluation for the project will be based on the objectives stated earlier in the lesson plan as well as what is included in the introduction to the assignment.
Art Production - Students will develop environments, storyboards, and stop motion animations.
Aesthetics - Students will design each scene based on a vision they can collectively envision.
Art History - Students will experience stop motion animation similar to how professional animators make films today and in the past.
Art Criticism - Students will be asked to provide ideas and criticism to each other as well as point out what works well with each project. They will also be challenged to translate musical art into visual art.
Brun, Herbert, "The Listener's Interpretation of Music, An Experience Between Cause and Effect," 1970, http://www.herbertbrun.org/listener.html
Paries, Jeff, "Foundation Silverlight 2 Animation," Apress, 2009
Purves, Barry, "Stop Motion: Passion, Process and Performance," p. 25, Elsevier Ltd. 2008