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Cultivating the Next Generation of Animators

Cultivating the Next Generation of Animators

What does it take to raise the next generation of animators? A little encouragement and creativity is all it takes really. Here's some simple things you can do at home to help get them started.

My daughter’s birthday is coming up. We’ve entered that period where just buying more toys to be buying more toys doesn’t make sense any more. Our home is bursting with the toys of three children, yet only the neighbor kids play with them. Instead of wasting money on toys she’ll never play with, I’d much rather support her creative endeavors, spark a fire in her mind and teach her just how far her imagination might really be able to take her.

She’s a great writer, an amazing artist and most recently, a zealous filmmaker. I don’t ever want her to stop! So I will encourage her every way I know how and try to create as many opportunities for her as I can along the way.

It’s insane how much animation has evolved over the past two decades! Really, with the help of some pretty high-tech and some very low tech tools, we can easily encourage our kids to develop an interest in animation. Heck, I know you have some of them in your home right now! At the very least, we help our kids learn more about the animation and/or stop-motion process while getting their creative juices flowing along the way. Who knows? Maybe our little ones will become the next talented animators of a big motion picture! The sky is the limit when we give them the freedom to create and a few tools to expand their skills.

This super cool, behind the scenes video gives us a sneak-peek into the work of the incredibly talented animators of Hotel Transylvania 2 and shows us how they developed certain scenes of the movie and brought the characters to life! It’s truly magic in the making when watching these artists create. Hopefully as you watch this you will feel inspired to cultivate an interest in your little ones to not just watch the magic that happens on the big screen, but to also understand a bit about how it’s made and maybe make some movies of their own too!

To get your little ones excited about animation, here are a are a few things you can do.

1. Encourage Drawing:

Make sketch sessions at the house a part of your normal daily routine. You only need some pencils and a sketch pad handy to encourage regular drawing sessions. Having the materials available and accessible makes all the difference in the world. Repetition is key when learning to draw so remember that practice is all you need to improve your illustration skills at any age.

We keep a pack of paper in the dining room with a collection of pencils, markers and crayons so the kids can get creative whenever the mood strikes them.

Some other ways we encourage drawing in our home:

– we draw together
– we take turns drawing portraits of each other
– we make up stories and take turns illustrating the pages
– we draw everything:
– what we want for breakfast or dinner
– what we want our rooms to look like
– what birthday parties will be like
– what we’re going to do today

My daughter also loves to draw characters from stories she loves, by emulating each illustrators style and technique she is teaching herself how to add these talents to her creative toolbox. She usually does it freehand, but this light up tracing pad makes doing this pretty cool too.

2. Watch movies together

One of our favorite family pastimes is watching movies together. At home or in the theater, if your child is truly interested in animation. You ned to immerse them in it. See as many movies as you can, talk about the different animation styles and what you liked and didn’t like about each one.

3. Make movies together

Whether it’s stop animation films or just your gets acting things out, getting them comfortable behind and in front of the camera goes along way in developing their confidence. We’ve been working on a skit piece called the Funny Face show I hope to reveal to you at some point this year.

4. Invest in some animation toys

The only limit is your imagination when it comes to these cool kits, toys and figures. Building, creating and morphing them into different poses teaches our creative brain how to view and remember motion. Understanding motion and how the body moves is a key skill for artists and future animators. Not to mention, these toys are crazy fun to play with!

Stik Bots are an amazingly simple way to teach animation skills. Using a simple smart phone as a video camera and the Stik Bots toys you can create endless poses and animate an entire short movie.

– Animation Studios: we got the Minecraft set for Christmas and it’s great since my kids are so into Minecraft already. I like that they can still play, create and build without being on a tablet for hours. We haven’t tried the Crayola animation set, and while I like the idea of being able to draw and then see our creations rendered in 3D and moving I have a feeling like many other of the Crayola sets the appeal won’t last long and the kids might get bored easily. I think this would be a starters only kind of tool or a great project for the classroom.

Legos, Building Sets and Tiny Toys: My kids have been making stop motion videos with apps on our phone for years. Legos, angry birds, minecraft toys and littlest pet shop are their personal favorites! They set up small world scenes and take photos before every teeny tiny move, then we put them together to create mini motion pictures. Try it! It’s so fun and addicting and can keep the kids busy for hours.

And don’t forget the classics! Play Doh, Magnatiles and Spirograph are the ultimate early illustrator toys! Bring them back out now that your kids are getting older for a whole new experience. From aspiring artists to future architects and engineers the learning never stops.

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5. Play Video Games

No really, play a few of them with your child. Doesn’t matter which ones, they have come a LONG way since we were kids and the graphics, techniques and skills that go into them are really mind-blowing. Also the things you can do inside of a game are so much different today than when we were younger. You can build entire worlds, create your own characters, you can even design your own outside of many of the games and import them in for a truly custom one of a kind experience. Ask you kid to show you just a bit of what they’ve been doing while “playing” and I bet you’ll be highly impressed.

6. Let them go high-tech

Every animator needs an animation tablet. This can just as easily be an iPad or take a look at an affordable Wacom tablet. They are the industry standard tools used in the animation of big motion pictures, you can see the animators in the clip using theirs. Having one of these hi-fi tools available for your kids, along with encouraging the low-fi skills (like basic drawing) will plant creative seeds that are sure to sprout with something amazing.

If your not ready to invest in a wacom tablet just yet, download a few apps and let the kids create on their tablets. We love Paper by 53 (bonus points, it’s FREE) and I have heard good things about Procreate (not free).

Giving kids room for creative freedom is just the backbone of what you will need to do to encourage your kids to love animation. Providing them with some specific tools like the ones I’ve mentioned here, will help bring their creativity to life and further expand their potential! It’s all about building on what we know and then making tools accessible that will help take the creative potential of our little ones to the next level!

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We’re still learning ourselves so if you know of a product we’ve left off or you think should be included, please let us know in the comments below! We’d love to make this a growing and useful resource for parents everywhere.

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post, thought it does include affiliate links. Our friends at Sony Animation Pictures were kind enough to share this video with us, and we thought it was very relevant and worth sharing with you here. If you like this kind of stuff and would like to see more, please let us know! We want to keep creating the best content possible for everyone who stops by.

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