FilmScene introduces opportunity for adults to learn animation techniques

After four years of FilmScene giving kids the opportunity to learn animation techniques, adults in the Iowa City community took their turn with Adult Animation Camp.


Hayden Froehlich

Atkins family members work works on their green screen film during the Adult Animation Camp at Film Scene in the Ped Mall on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. The family traveled to Iowa City for a reunion at the animation camp.

Jenna Post, Arts Reporter

At FilmScene’s Ped Mall location, groups of adults huddled around tables full of art supplies and video equipment to take their first step in learning the tricks of animation.

FilmScene’s Adult Animation camp took place Feb. 22-23 to teach participants beginner’s animation tricks. The children’s version of the camp started in the summer of 2016 and goes on for a week, but the adult version was conducted over a weekend since adults generally can’t spare the time that children can. However, a lack of time didn’t stop adults from coming to learn how to do stop-motion animation and animation effects.

FilmScene Programming Director Rebecca Fons said the idea to create a condensed version of the camp for adult participants came to her when parents expressed interest in their children’s animations.

“So many of their parents would be like, ‘I wish I knew how to do this, this is so cool,’ and so we decided even if not all those parents would come, there was an interest from adults to take the class that we offer to students,” Fons said.

Fons said Mark Jones, the class’ instructor, was on board with the idea, which was advertised to the public in December. The event sold out almost immediately, and eight people were placed on a waitlist.

The children’s camp has eight back-to-back sessions, so campers have plenty of chances to attend, but the Adult Animation Camp was only planned for one weekend. Fons said FilmScene will host more camps for adults in the future because of the level of community interest.

Emily Martin, a self-proclaimed FilmScene fan and camp attendee, said she was excited for the opportunity to participate, because similar events are usually only offered to kids. Martin also said she had a little animation experience, but wanted to learn more.

Jones described day one of camp as an introduction to animation and day two as a day for spending time on a project.

“Really, we’re doing similar things to what we do with the kids. It’s meant to be a beginner-level thing,” Jones said.

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Adding to the camp for grown-ups were the materials participants used for their animations. Clay, crayons, and markers were commonly used supplies. Neon-green cardstock was also in the mix, but it functioned as a greenscreen.

Aside from the arts and crafts supplies, iPad Minis mounted on mic stands and the Stop Motion Studio app were used to animate their projects.

“I settled on this app because, for one, it’s a free one that kids can get for free and use on their phone at home,” Jones said. “This thing is just like, ‘Click the red button, boom, we’ve got it.’ I’d say within 30 seconds of the first class, everyone was animating.”

Jones said on day two, after everyone learned the basics, creative freedom for their projects was in the animators’ hands.

“I was an art teacher before this and I never had a lesson where I was like, ‘We’re making cats today,’ ” Jones said. “It’s more like, we’re learning about shading, and the kid who likes cats can make a cat. The kid who hates cats isn’t forced to make a cat.”

Jones aims to create an enjoyable experience that’s simple enough for participants to do on their own after completing the class.

“I don’t want this to be a thing where I have all the ideas and the know-how and at the end of this couldn’t happen without me,” Jones said. “Demystifying the process is a big part of it.”

Pons said encouraging life-long learning is one of the most important aspects of Adult Animation Camp.

“I think as adults, when we get out of higher education, and once we start our jobs it’s hard to remind ourselves to learn new skills,” Pons said. “I think it’s nice to take an opportunity for yourself as an adult.”

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