Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Revenge of the Wind Ups

Once my kids discovered the magic behind stop motion video, they could not be stopped. They borrowed my camera and took thousands of pictures of Hotwheels inching their way down the hall in epic races, battles and adventures. We'd download the pictures and they'd watch as I manipulated a Picasa slideshow to simulate the "motion". Inspired, they'd rush off to film some more action. Mortified by the amount to dirt and trash on the floor, I'd try to use Picasa's limited editing tools to hide the filth in the pictures. Yes, I could have gotten up and cleaned the floors, but I'm an artist.

Eventually, they grew frustrated with the process because the Windows Movie Maker loaded on my laptop wouldn't render finished videos into any shareable format and I grew frustrated because they had all thousands of photos stored on my computer but their storylines had no beginning, middle or end, not to mention climax or denouement. And their frequent use of deus ex machina grew tiresome and predictable. I love my kids, but everyone needs some tough literary love once and a while.

Eventually we worked together to tell a story through stop motion video. We set up the scene on a table and cleaned up the background and marked the spot of the camera. We also tried to move the characters in the same distance in each shot, although we weren't too precise about that.

It didn't take much to convince the boys to use Blondie's brilliant "Attack of the Giant Ants" as the soundtrack. I migrated the project to my desktop where Movie Maker works as it should and the published work is now viewable by all. The kids have moved on to other projects but they learned a little about storytelling, preparation and minding the details of the process through this little exercise. I have learned to clean the floors more often. Or to embrace the dirt as a metaphor for my dislike of housekeeping. I am, after all, an artist.