As we prepare for Living Lines: An Animated Big Draw we wanted to talk to artists, animators and creators who have devoted their lives to the craft of animation. The thought of creating an animation themed event may seem daunting but we hope that this series of interviews will inspire show just how simple (and fun it can be).
Animation is a enormously diverse art form which is constantly evolving and redefining itself. From the simplest cartoon strips and flip books to the biggest budget CGI features there is something for everybody to explore within animation.
In our fourth and final chat with Jim we asked him to give you some advice on how to organise a Big Draw event with animation at it's heart.
To some extent the hight tech equipment and technical training are true however the first step is to understand that there is both a huge difference and a wonderful similarity between beginning to make your own moving images (animation) and the things that you see in the world made by professionals such as films or cartoons.
The huge difference is that the things you see made by professionals have been made by people that have learnt many things, from the world of Visual Literacy through to the incredibly deep ocean of animation techniques, and most probably have those high tech technical resources to hand that make making such work far easier and crucially they have learnt how to use them.
However, the most wonderful similarity is that they all boil down to the difference between one drawing and the next. If you strip away the difference in technical hurdles, with something like a simple and cheap paper flip book, a zoetrope or a turntable zoetrope such as a Phonotrope™ disc, exploring and understanding what happens when you make a sequence of marks is something that both you and the professional can get the same amount of satisfaction in.
And that is at the heart of animation – satisfaction – and the thing that puts people off is frustration which comes from spending some time doing something, testing it, and it not working first time. In a lot of ways the most important thing is to make things as simple as possible to begin with – a simple dot of a pen, a single line from a pencil, from page to page of a flipbook, using the page underneath as a guide and changing it gradually as you go.
Having said that there are so many wonderful technical things available for you today including tablet base apps as well as lots of stop-motion apps too. Again, even with stop motion, keep your first tests simple and work up from there.
In terms of drawing, the NFB (National Film Board of Canada)'s McLaren Workshop App with the Etching On Film add on (69p) is a must.
Before anything I would spend some time hunting out some animated films. Depending on the age group there are so many wonderful short films out there that are miles away from the big budget high-end blockbusters that will inspire and educate you all in what can be done with animation. A wonderful range of films using different techniques from across the decades can show both you as well as your audience that you can do almost anything with animation if you have the imagination.
Because the Big Draw is about Drawing (!) the most pertinent animation methods would be flipbooks, zoetropes, praxinoscopes and even record player zoetropes such as my Phonotrope™ (although there are certain technical hurdles which certainly can be surmounted). Go online and research them all and almost more importantly have a go yourself and try and chase down those moments of satisfaction that make making animation so addictive.
Although the stop-motion technique is primarily about models and physical forms that doesn't mean it can't be used for a Big Draw event either. One of the more useful sides to stop-motion is that it is relatively simple to set up if you have a tablet or smart phone with a lot of stop-motion apps about. From there the most important thing is a tripod or stand which allows you to lock the camera off so it doesn't get moved and what one can then do is film a chalk board or a white board, taking pictures of the drawings then rubbing them out, re-drawing, taking photo, re-drawing etc… There are many examples of how well this work, the most recent of which is recent UCA graduate Stewart Powers' films, “Sky High” and “Dinosaurs in the Playground” but equally some deeper work by the fine artist William Kentridge
You can find out more about Jim and his amazing work at https://www.jimlefevre.com/ or follow him on twitter @jimlefevre and on vimeo https://vimeo.com/jimlefevre.
If you have been inspired by Jim's ramblings why not organise and event of your own for The Big Draw Festival 2017. You can register right here
About our blog writer: Oscar Moore
Oscar has been working at The Big Draw since August 2016. He graduated from the University of Bristol in 2015 with a degree in History of Art. He has a particular interest in Modern South American Art especially the Arpillera movement in Chile as well as the work of Oscar Munoz. As a lapsed drawer himself he has loved working towards getting as many people involved with drawing in all its’ forms, as well as rediscovering drawing himself. Outside of the The Big Draw Oscar loves playing basketball (badly) and writing about it (quite well), cooking and traveling whenever time and funds allow!