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Best of the Week 2019-2020: Excellence in College Prep


Ms. Lydia Munnell's Digital Cinema 1/Animation class is underway with their final film projects for the semester. With most students choosing to create stop-motion films using Legos, one student decided to go outside the box and tackle 2D animation using a pro-grade program called Adobe Animate to produce and hand-draw his own film. Mitchell Tomsik '20 is in the process of creating an animation about a strange little character who wanders into the mouth of a monster. Inspired by a clip he saw of Charlie Chaplin, Mitch took to drawing a few concept sketches to begin his creation. "This is actually the first time I've ever worked with Adobe Animate," says Mitch. "I find the user interface to be very clean and easily understandable and I was able to pick up how to use it efficiently within two class periods. Animations are so much more fun to create compared to filming with a camera. Most people find it tedious, but I enjoy having total control over all aspects of the animation. I've learned that experimenting with the tools we're given can pay off and, with artistic classes like this, they really rely on the work you put into your creations."

"In each animation project, Mitch's work has stood out," says Ms. Munnell. "Not only is he incredibly patient, but his work also represents a unique artistic perspective. The latter is something artists frequently don't develop until they're older. It's cool to see his animation because it implements framing, angles and story arcs he's learned in class, but it's also cool because it's stylized in a way no class could ever really take credit for. It takes real patience and persistence to complete a short animated story as an individual high school student who is only just beginning to use these skills."

"It's so much fun to have a place to work on creative projects and be surrounded by other people who are working on their own creations," says Mitch. "I've learned that my artistic style of just doodling can be translated well into animations and I'm definitely excited to experiment with it more on my own time. Next year, I'll be attending college to study game design. Now knowing how to animate and create my own assets for games will be a huge help since I'll not only be able to cover the programming side of gaming, but the artistic side as well."

"Animation involves knowledge of storytelling, cinematic devices, physics, drawing and use of industry standard software. Animation allows our students to totally step outside of the physical and budgetary constraints of traditional filmmaking," says Ms. Munnell. "Though major animated films are expensive and made by hundreds of technical specialists, what Mitch and all our St. Edward animators have done is show how one person, given the software and patience, can tell a story." An early lesson Ms. Munnell's class touched on was how the best animated stories can only be animated. For example, Disney is testing this very philosophy by seeing how much money they can spend on CG to retell stories they already told effectively using 2D animation. "Pixar movies like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Wall-E work so well because they, to some degree, throw off the constraints of Hollywood and of the physical, human world. They magnify real emotion in a fantastical setting. For the most part, our students can tell stories that we can only share using the spaces we have, but in taking the lessons from our animation class to heart, Mitch exemplifies how to tell a story about a tiny humanoid traveling through the stomach of a monster through animation. Animation has the potential to really move our department in whatever directions our students' imaginations take." Click here to watch Mitch's animated short film, "Little Dude."

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