The project is now complete having recorded many people's memories of The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway which closed in 26th July 1952. An edited piece of the sound recordings was used to provide a voice-over for the animated film with artwork and animation provided by local schools at Laxfield, Wetheringsett and Hartismere School in Eye.
The children are introduced to finding a subject for their story and how to put this together. Remembering, a story always begins, has a middle and an end. Sometimes, it's a good idea to start with an ending, a good result, a clever play on words, pun or a strong moral to build the story around.
Other thoughtful tools are used to create the story and help the children to write. For script writing the children might also need to think about directions and effects with added information describing the scene for the purpose of film-making or illustrating for publishing picture stories. They need to think laterally and use associations of ideas.
Having chosen to do a cartoon strip, storyboard for a film or graphic novel the children would have a simple story line to begin and think about close-ups, long shots, the master shot, unusual angles and to think beyond the obvious. They would then draw layouts or storyboard frames. For a graphic novel, they might have to consider the size and shape of the page and then decide how to arrange the pictures. What effects may be introduced to create drama? Draw in black and white, and then add colour? Bold and dramatic images?
Depending how ambitious this project might be the children might wish to have an initial workshop to create the storyline and prepare a storyboard for an animated film. They would then be shown how to create characters, animated drawings and backgrounds. Some children might be more interested to produce animation drawings while others might prefer to create the backgrounds for the animation. For those who are not confident with drawing may choose to make simple paper puppets with card and paper fasteners/needle and thread for manipulating under the camera as cut-out animation. This project will depend very heavily on what software is available and advice can be given on what to buy and what is freely available.
Whilst explaining a little about my books on accident prevention I would draw a cartoon character on a flip chart, a stage at a time, so that children could then follow making their own drawings to discover how easy it is to draw. I remind the children by asking them the mood of the character, how is he dressed? what is he doing? to make them think beyond the obvious.
As well as bringing children's attention to dangers within the home this project also offers to teach children about the importance of facial expressions and body language used in cartoon illustration as well as appreciating the methods used to create animation from a series of still pictures.
Photoshop Elements is a very cheap and useful software package to make animated gifs. As simple pieces of animation these can be added to the school's website and would make an interesting addition to exhibit some of the children's skills. The children would make simple drawings for an animation cycle, running, jumping, walking, flying, etc. These would then be scanned into Photoshop Elements and made into a piece of animation, to be used on the website or sent as emails. Further tuition can be provided using Dreamweaver for website construction and the use of CSS and XHTML.
The main software tool for creative application is Photoshop. This is also very necessary for constructing websites, picture formatting, cleaning images, creating effects, file format changing and resizing, doctoring images by cutting and pasting fresh material within a picture, distorting, cloning, blurring and building of different images, one on top the other to create a new picture. Dreamweaver is also very useful software for website construction and I can advise on how to use this as well. Photoshop Elements is used to create animated gifs for websites.
ToonBoom is the animation software that I use and recomend.
For publishing my children's books I use CorelDraw, particularly useful for publishing to PDF format. All the above depends on good artwork, the ability to draw or take good photographs.
Inset workshops for teachers are also available on request.
“Having spent about 12 years working for BBC and Channel 4 Schools Television I now work with different projects producing animation in primary schools and local communities as well as self-publishing my own series of children's books dealing with child safety, DangerSpot Books Ltd. I moved away from the advertising world in London a long time ago because that industry believes the product is the only thing that matters, whereas I believe it is people that matter. Materialism will have no place in our future world because, like a toy we discard when we are young, mankind will grow up and leave it behind.
I am very concerned about the future of our world and therefore I am very concerned about the future citizens, our children. The world is badly out of balance at this time, because mankind is out of balance. It is our responsibility to ensure our future generations have the best opportunities in life to fulfil their potential and live in a balanced society. Children need to be taught the basic values in life and absolute truth at all times is pivotal to keeping this world at peace and in a healthy state. If there is no truth, there is mistrust. With mistrust wars start. ('From Truth Peace is born.' Gordon Cole 2013-2005). Children also need to be taught how to know themselves, to know their individual strengths and weaknesses, so that, in turn, they may come to discover their potential.
Vital Communities in Cambridgeshire was a government pilot scheme, now closed, to introduce a whole range of different artists into schools around Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Over a fifteen year period results were to show that given a wide variety of creative opportunities in this way children would benefit from gaining a wider knowledge of potential prospects for their future. Not only was it expected to reduce criminality this project would have also helped to encourage greater communication between diverse groups of people. The whole project was of benefit to the community and artists as well as the children involved.
Everyone got the opportunity to meet and work with people who they may not have met any other way.
I am always amazed at the quality of the artwork that very young children can produce. It is through creativity that children will discover more about themselves and other people. The government and educational authorities are slowly beginning to recognise this.”
To view previously made films in schools click on the pictures below
Vital Communities in Cambridgeshire.
Several workshops during Big Arts Week and World Book Day at several schools in the local area as well as the BBC Big Read at Ipswich Town Football Club and Framlingham Arts Festival.
Dennington Primary School. Headteacher, Karl Walker.
Laxfield Primary School. Headteacher, Mrs. Elaine Elliott.
Bramfield primary School. Headteacher, Mrs. Cathryn Benefer.
Wilby Primary School. Headteacher, Gary Deeks.
Sutton Primary School, Ely. Headteacher, Gill Gilbert.
Spring Meadow Infant School, Ely. Headteacher, Sheila Sands.
St.Mary's Junior School, Ely. Headteacher, James Hickish.
City of Ely Community College. Head of Art, Lisa Cox.
Abbey College, Ramsey. Head of Art. Gill Bainbridge.
Ramsey Spinning Infant School. Headteacher, Di Cooling.
Ramsey Junior School. Headteacher, Deborah Hanaford.
Felixstowe Library cartoon drawing event for "The Reading Mission" commissioned by Suffolk CC.
The Priory Centre in Great Yarmouth drawing cartoons for children and parents.
Arts Framlingham. Cartoon drawing workshops.
Media Factory. Animation workshops at Hoxne Primary School.
Bellbird Primary School, Sawston. Headteacher, Linda Corrall.
Icknield Primary School, Sawston. Headteacher, Sarah Robins.
Sawston Village College. Head of Art, Karen Tite.
Norwich School of Art and Design. Animation lecture and workshop.
Cambridgeshire Film Consortium animation workshop.
Fulbourn Primary School. Headteacher, Fiona Thorpe.
Ida Darwin Centre, Fulbourn.
Gamlingay First School. Headteacher, Jonathan Newman.
Rothwell St. Mary's Primary School, Leeds.
Cartoon Drawing at Hadleigh Fun Day. Jill Barton, Arts and Community Development Officer, Babergh District Council.
Haslingfield Village Hall cartoon drawing workshop.
Sunnymeade Junior School, Billericay. Cartoon drawing workshops.
Newton Q, Cambridge. Animation and cartoon drawing workshops.
Trumpington Pavilion cartoon drawing workshop.
Smiths Row, Bury St. Edmunds. Cartoon drawing workshop.
Saffron Walden high School. Animation workshops.
Hartismere High School, Eye. Animated film for Laxfield Museum.
Wetheringsett Primary School, Suffolk. Animated film for Laxfield Museum.
Charville Primary School, Hillingdon.
Burwell College Primary School.
A new project is planned with charitable funding and three schools to make an animated film about bee conservation.
Jeremy Bee lives in a field without flowers. As he was very hungry and lonely he told the Wren about the absence of flowers. The Wren told the Cat, the Cat told the Dog and finally, the Dog told the Farmer. The Farmer then planted new plants and shrubs in his hedges and fields which encouraged more life into the land and helped him produce healthier and better crops, and Jeremy Bee lived happily ever after.