Digital animators and sound artists create dynamicanimated movies at CCHS

By on March 20, 2017
Artist Dayton Crawford created a park-style environment that progressed into a cityscape of winding tunnels. Provided photo

Artist Dayton Crawford created a park-style environment that progressed into a cityscape of winding tunnels. Provided photo

There was no red carpet, but the premier of nine digitally animated movies in the Churchville-Chili Performing Arts Center on February 17 had all the excitement of a Hollywood opening night. The Churchville-Chili High School animators had never seen their work on anything larger than their computer screens, and the composers who had created the original soundtracks nervously anticipated their very first look at the final movies.

As the students watched, the big screen was filled with their creative visions: a series of dynamic 30-second car chases through imaginary three-dimensional cities, forests or mountains, punctuated by exciting sound effects and music.

Artist Kyle O’Connor built a sand dune landscape full of light and shadows for his cars to race through. Provided photo

Artist Kyle O’Connor built a sand dune landscape full of light and shadows for his cars to race through. Provided photo

This was the culmination of part one of an innovative student film project. Music teacher Terry Bacon’s Digital Music class and art teacher Jonathan Woodard’s Advanced Computer Graphics and Design students collaborated – each supplying an integral part of the final experience. Movies had to be short, as each second of film time required 24 frames of artwork.

The musicians began the process, with the creation of 18 unique sound tracks. The nine visual artists, mostly seniors, each chose one favorite track as the basis for creating their animated movie. The sound and visual artists only had an initial discussion in the preliminary design stage of the sound tracks.

“It is an interesting collaborative method, very similar to the way artists work in real studios,” said Woodard. “Different experts contribute their talents to the project with minimal personal interaction with each other. They have to be creative, but then cede control to other artists.”

“For this first project, we limited students to the subject of a car chase,” said Bacon. “It helped them focus. They still had to explore many online resource libraries to find existing sound and art assets, and had liberty to create their own digital environments for the action.”

Artist Emma Clark used rain, light effects and reflections to create a sense of cinematic atmosphere. Provided photo

Artist Emma Clark used rain, light effects and reflections to create a sense of cinematic atmosphere. Provided photo

The next project for the two groups will be more open, starting with the visual artists who will create two-dimensional animations using styles and subjects of their own choice. They will pass their final graphics on to the musicians for soundtrack and voiceovers. Like the composers before them, they will have no say in the final interpretation of their work. They seem genuinely excited about the creative possibilities, as are their teachers.

The school’s dedicated labs for digital art and music are becoming popular electives for students interested in digital design and musical compositions. “We’re exploring many fun projects, like creating custom ringtones, and this chance to work with visual artists on a project of this magnitude is awesome,” said Bacon. “We’re so lucky to be able to offer our artists opportunities like this,” said Woodard. “This is an incredible way for them to stretch their talents and learn collaborative skills that will serve them in the arts or whatever field they choose to enter after graduation.”

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