Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making animation films in Anima Mundi's workshops!

Anima Mundi’s Festival is an event that takes over the city of Rio de Janeiro, bringing lots of colors, joy and fun, as if it has life of its own. And the festival has a heart: the set of locations composed by Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil, Centro Cultural dos Correios and Casa França-Brasil, all located in the city centre. Between this last two, there is a small square, usually empty in normal days. During Anima Mundi, thought, the square comes to life and transforms into Praça Animada. They built a very big tent there and everything looks magical as the first time we go to the circus. Inside this tent there is a huge cinema screen. This is the place where the films that win the competition are exhibit in the end of Rio’s festival.

In Casa França-Brasil’s and CCBB’s halls there were the animation workshops. The most famous one is called Pixilation, where you can self transform in a character of a stop motion short film! The participants put on costumes and do some sketches. Instead of filming the scene, the monitors take several pictures and then join everything together, creating a small movie. The magic relies on the in between: you can make hats disappear, transform guys into frogs, and a whole lot more interventions that will look like specials effects in the screen.

The others workshops taught us how to make our own animations with several different techniques. The most well-know is draw in paper. You need approximately twelve pages with different draws of a sequence of events. They are all photographed and put together in sequence to create the illusion of movement. The clay workshop used the same logic. The kids built up clay toys and animated then using a photo camera to create the stop motion. The interaction between the kids and their characters is very important because they are free to think their own stories and create a mise-en-scene, in which they can easily move and interfere. You can do animation even with sand! All it takes is to find a bunch of it and spread it all over a smooth surface. With a paint brush, you slowly draw something or write your name, taking pictures of every single transformation in the sand. In the end, you will see the words appearing like magic.

You must be asking yourselves how the kids put together all this photographs to create a film. Easy! With MUAN (Animations Universal Manipulator), a free software created by Anima Mundi’s team of animators, developed by INPA (Applied Mathematics Institute) and sponsored by the company IBM. MUAN is specially designed to children, so his computer interface is very simple and intuitive to make the job easier. Small kids can easily find out how to work on the program by themselves. The software organizes the photos in sequence allowing a little film to be formed. The biggest conquer of developing this program is that it can put more people in contact with animation, once there is no need of spending lots of money to buy advanced programs and to pay lessons of how to use then. You can download MUAN for free! Just check here!

Last but not least, we have the “analogical workshops”, the ones that did not require the use of digital equipment. Animation is a very old art, since 1833 exists, for example, the zootrope, the first equipment which was able to produce the illusion of movement. Everyone was able to check and use this amazing object. Another analogical workshop is the one that uses the Moviola, an old school film editing machine created in 1917 before the dawn of non-linear editing suites. The participant receives a 35mm film and draw direct into it, using a special pen. After that, the film can be seen in the Moviola.

Anima Mundi is not only a world famous animation festival. It is also an event that cares to inspire the kids in Brazil not only to like to watch animation movies, but also to want to make it.

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