Movie frames move at 24 frames per second. How many frames are in an hour-long movie? Estimate how many hours it would take to make an animated film if an artist drew each frame. How could you organize an animation studio to make this more efficient? How might computers help?
Making a Scene
Write a script for the scene you created in your Shoebox Studio. First write a paragraph telling what the scene looks like. Then, on the left side of the page, describe the action that takes place while the characters are talking. On the right side, write what you and the monster say (or roar).
Pick a favorite dinosaur. Go to the library and read books about it. Visit a natural history museum and study the dinosaur skeletons. What modern-day animal seems most like your dinosaur? Why? Write about the process you would use to make your dinosaur into a movie dinosaur. How could you use modern-day animals to help?
The Biographer Strikes Back
Want to know what it's like to be a real director? Check out Meet Steven Spielberg by Thomas Conklin. Bullseye Biography series (N.Y.: Random House, 1994).
The Play's the Thing
Ask a librarian to help you find a play or screenplay you could read. How is it different from reading a book? In this script, where do you think special effects might be needed? What makeup and props would you need? What role would you like to play yourself?
Back to the Past
Watch a TV show, video, or movie that is supposed to take place a long time ago. How do they use costumes, makeup, and props to make you think you've traveled back in time? Find a library book about that period of history. How does the movie compare to what you read?
Find out how a computer can make a picture come to life. Use software that you can draw with. (Or if you don't have a computer, draw on a pad of yellow self-stick notes.) Make a 2-inch object, copy it, alter it very slightly so part of it changes position, and copy it again. Repeat this until you have 10 to 15 pictures or pages. How is this different from drawing by hand? Print out your images, cut them into squares so that the pictures line up exactly and staple them into a book. (The self-stick notes are already a book.) Flip the pages rapidly with your thumb. Watch what happens.
Ralph: The Movie
Find out how a book becomes a movie. Start by reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary (N.Y.: William Morrow and Company, 1989. Reprint). Then read Look Alive: Behind the Scenes of an Animated Film by Elaine Scott (N.Y.: Morrow Junior Books, 1992) to see how Ralph S. Mouse, a movie based on Beverly Cleary's book, was produced by J.C. Matthews and G. McQuilkin (Churchill Entertainment, 1991).