Edwards Middle School Students Enter Film Festival

This student from the Edwards Middle School is focused on finishing his part of the Video.

This student from the Edwards Middle School is focused on finishing his part of the Video.

A group of students from the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown have worked together to create a three-minute video that has been entered into the Youth Film Festival sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the National Properties Project (NPP). The goal of the festival is to make a short film that answers the question: What would you do with $1 trillion – for yourself, your family, and your community? Participants must consider the money spent yearly on the US military, wars abroad, and in tax cuts for the wealthy.

“The students are excited about this animation, and they should be! It’s an engaging piece,” says Pell Osborn, Founder and CEO of MotionArt Inc., an animation studio that opened in Boston in 1982.  Osborn directed and supervised 11 classes, which were sponsored by the Charlestown Working Theater, with help from Edwards Middle School teacher, Ms. Linda Yu.  The professional animator is one of the creative teaching partners with the Massachusetts Cultural Council, visiting schools around the commonwealth, and teaching them animation education through a course that he has developed.

Edwards Middle School students – Alejandra Bonilla, Jacob Boutilier, Dan Rui Chen, Kendrick Echeverri, Jairo Lazo, Jingsi Li, Qianyi Luo, Juan Rubio, Kevin Wall, Jia Wen, and Steven Williams – designed LineStorm animation, which combines hand-drawn and computerized animation, and is synchronized to music. It requires a lot of planning, pre-visualization, organization, arithmetic, and collaboration.

“We try to make the animations really smooth, and in order to do that, you have to create a lot of drawings,” explains Osborn about the time-consuming, arduous work. “Each student created 10 drawings for every second of time that the animation runs.”

Osborn explains the animation process in small steps with fun exercises that result in a finished series of sequential drawings. The Edwards students created “An Animated Trillion Dollar Alphabet,” which can be viewed on YouTube and lists the massive amount of items that one can purchase, while illustrating the enormous federal budget. There are drawings of children riding a school bus, which exhibits the 40,800,000 automobiles that could be bought with $1 trillion, 1,250,000,000 possible dishwashers, or potential 5,000,000,000 Nintendo DS games.

“I became more interested in teaching how the process of animation works. It’s much more fulfilling and fun,” says Osborn. “One of the things I’ve always loved doing is de-mystifying the animation process, so when my students watch an animation, they’ll appreciate how it’s done.”

Students were given the opportunity to expressively design how their names would be credited at the end of their colorful animation.

“The students felt comfortable enough with the animating process to really begin to think creatively about how they wanted their names to move,” Yu adds excitedly. “This gave students the feeling of ownership over the film, which up until that point I don’t think they realized how much animating they had done.”

Now the Edwards students find themselves critiquing commercials and TV programs, and pointing out blinking/walking cycles, methods of continuing the motion without needing to make thousands of sketches.

The “What Would You Do With $1 Trillion” festival culminates April 13-15, 2013 in Washington, DC, where AFSC and NPP will hold a youth leadership conference, film screening for members of Congress, and a free public screening.

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