In their most recent Visual Arts unit, BIFS Grade 10 students attempted something previously done only by animation students at Carnegie Mellon University and the Seattle Creative Academy: rotoscope Eadweard Muybridge’s famous series of photographs of a running horse into their own personalized creations.
Eadweard Muybridge was a well-known nineteenth-century photographer who, in 1872, was asked by the governor of California, Leland Stanford, to help prove his contention that a trotting horse has, at some point, all hooves off the ground, something the human eye cannot detect. Muybridge set up a series of still cameras and trip wires. The resulting series of photographs, finally completed in 1878, proved Leland correct. Muybridge used the photos to invent an early motion picture process. He went on to photograph all manner of creatures in motion: elephants, birds, bison and people. His work changed the way illustrators and painters depicted horses and other animals and paved the way for art movements like Cubism, Futurism, and film, the most influential art form of our time.
Rotoscoping, invented by Max Fleischer in 1915, is a method of tracing individual frames of live-action footage to create animated movement. A century later Carnegie Mellon University professor Paolo Perdicini asked his students to to take Muybridge’s original series of fifteen running horse images, trace them, then, in Adobe Photoshop, add their own individual content. I showed the footage to my daughter, Wynn Barnard, a student at Seattle Creative Academy. She passed it on to her professor. He assigned his students the same project. Wynn showed me the process, and, with the help of BIFS teacher Simon Furmstron, I passed it on to BIFS’s Grade 10 students. I added some MYP additions: students wrote research essays about Muybridge and other animators, used the elements and principles of design to analyze animated art, and documented and reflected on the entire process in their online blogs. In the end, the Grade 10s produced some fascinating running horses: trotting slices of pizza; fried chicken pieces; muffins and candy canes; a flying saucer; X-Rayed bones; a camel; and constellations of abstract shapes.
The baton has now been passed on to BIFS music teacher Mark Turner, whose eighth-grade students are writing soundtracks for the running horse film compilation. You’d be hard pressed to find another school in Korea with this level of interdisciplinary creative collaboration.