Animated films for the First World War Galleries part four

Summer School attendee Catherine is our fourth guest blogger. Here she describes how she and other students used an item from our collections as inspiration to create silent animated films that may feature in our new First World War galleries, opening in 2014…

Catherine gets down to research about the psychological imapct of the First World War

When my history teacher first told me that IWM was hosting two Summer Schools on the First World War, my first thought was ‘I have to go on this’. It certainly wasn’t ‘I think we could make an animation using light’.I attended the Summer School that focused on the psychological impact of the First World War. After a few activities, including the chance to see the scale model of the new First World War galleries, we were tasked with making a short silent animation that linked in with a key item going into the new galleries next year. The item we based our story on was a trench sign from a trench in Gaza, called Piccadilly Circus. My team and I were particularly interested in this item as it highlighted the different coping mechanisms used by soldiers.  The item we based our story on was a trench sign from a trench in Gaza, called Piccadilly Circus. My team and I were particularly interested in this item, as it highlighted the different coping mechanisms used by soldiers.

Catherine and her group present their initial ideas to curators from the First World War galleries team

We now had our item, all we had to do was work out how to animate a story. Each team worked with a member of Chocolate Films, who helped us and provided us with the equipment needed to animate. After a good hour working out a storyboard, Mark from Chocolate Films suggested something we had never heard of before. He proposed that we film our animation in a style called ‘Light Painting’.

After a few mishaps working out how to get a room dark enough, we got to work creating our animation. Light Painting requires a lot of teamwork as each frame is quite complicated and needs a lot of choreography to get it to work. I feel that my team and I managed to work together to produce a rather unique animation, highlighting the way that soldiers in the trenches used small things to remind themselves of home as a coping mechanism.

Catherine and her group use a style known as Light Painting to create their animation

I have definitely come out of the Summer School with a better understanding of the soldiers in the trenches and a lot of new animating skills that I can use to further my interest in film-making.

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