Sunday, February 28, 2010

BAMkids Film Fest 2010

The Brooklyn Academy of Music has a great offering of live performances of theatre, dance and music... and they also have a cinema. This year I was excited to be asked to teach animation workshops in conjunction with the 12th annual BAMkids Film Fest.

The idea was that BAM, who had invited students from surrounding public schools to screen these films on a school-day, would provide an accompanying education on how animation works. So I was deployed to teach the idea of Persistence of Vision, the visual phenomenon of how we are able to retain an image long enough to overlap it with a subsequent image.

I employed the Thaumatrope, which was a perfect tool for the young kids to grasp this phenomenon, and we followed that lesson with making flip books. The students ranged from 1st to 3rd grades-- some of them I taught solo, and some I taught collaboratively with my pal, animator Tom Eaton. Tom's appealing and satisfying animation "Don't Smash" was part of the 11th annual BAMkids Film Festival, and we "screened" it at the workshops we did together, with Tom showing some of his accompanying drawings. The kids were really smart and fun to teach this stuff to, which made it very festive to meet them again at the screening at BAM. Tom and I were there as a small "panel" to talk about the films we just screened (which included one of each of ours), animation as a practice, and to answer questions. We enjoyed the intelligent questions which came from a theatre-audience-filled room of 6- to 8-year-olds.

On the Sunday of the BAMkids Film Fest, I was there at BAM with a small army of teenage artist/helpers, supervising two tables of Hands-on Thaumatrope-making for visitors. We had kids, parents, grandparents, and everyone in between coming by to make their own thaumatropes. It was rewarding to see people of all ages experience the surprise and excitement of making their images come together when then flipped their thaumatropes. I also enjoyed the fact that the thaumatrope was so quiet and lo-tech, in comparison to the green-screen music video station across BAM's lobby.