Signals’ Plug In Creatives is an artist development programme supporting creative technologists in developing their skills as workshop leaders and community project workers.
Plug In Creatives artist Emily May-Gordon, recently completed her workshops as part of the scheme. Emily worked with animator Victoria Button and year six students at a primary school in Cressing to create an animated film to navigate the emotional changes when starting secondary school. Emily spoke to us about her experience being on the Plug In Creatives programme.
‘Working with Signals initially was so useful to get lots of information about all the different parts involved running a workshop and working with different ages and abilities.
Going into the projects, we had been set a brief of making a film about transitioning from primary to secondary school. I had been nervous about how engaged the kids might be and if we’d be able to have the whole class involved in one story. The kids really surprised me for how many great ideas they came up with in the storyboarding stage, it’s inspiring to see how engaged and excited they got about it and how successful they were working together in groups to come up with characters and a story that reflected on how they all felt about change. This resulted in our story focusing on some real fun characters and our setting being on a tree.
Some difficulties we found were getting the kids to understand the mechanics of stop frame animation and just how many frames are needed to create a smooth looking animation. This is especially difficult as our sessions with them were quite short to fit in with the school timetable and with week between each session they can easily forget what we covered last week.
The animator I am working on the project with, Vicci Button, is training to be a teacher and showed me templates she uses for lesson plans and so I’ve learnt to create lesson plans through this and the importance of including a refresher conversation with the kids. My training workshops with Signals also showed me how it’s good to have a quick task at the start to get them in the mindset for the lesson.
To get them used to animation we found it useful to do a session where they did practice animation using our story but with quickly drawn assets and a Stop Frame Animation app that is on the school iPads. This session was really important to get them understanding how to create the animation as they got to quickly see what happened if they moved the characters too fast and we got to have these discussions together.
I’m feeling much more confident now at managing the class, I begun quite shy to talk to the group and get them to listen to me but we’ve done seven sessions now so I feel I have more control on this, especially recently where I’ve taken groups out to record audio for the animation I can tell they are really listening.
Working with year sixes and another animator has been rewarding and lots of fun. I think the visual style and story we have for the animation is something I wouldn’t have created without the collaboration of us all, including Signals.
I’m excited to share the final animation once we’ve worked on it more outside of the sessions and hopefully in the future have a go and teach more of my specialisms such as digital 3D.