Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The History of Animation and Film Unit Study: Part Two

This unit study is inspired by Walt Disney World's park Disney's Hollywood Studio. We have never been to Disney World but are playing with the idea of a 2015 vacation there. Our unit studies are our fun and educational way to build excitement for that adventure.

We just recently returned from a whirlwind trip to San Marcos, Ca, for a wedding, a week at the Disneyland and California Adventure Park, and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on Sunday. I am exhausted! Check back later for pictures of the trip and the race!

Before we left, Aidyn and I learned all about early film history from the 1820s to 1919. To see Part One where we watched early films and made a zoetrope, click here.

We watched some early silent films, including Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops and some very early Charlie Chaplin films while he worked with Mack Sennett.

Mack Sennett's An Interrupted Elopement (1912)

Mack Sennett's The Bangville Police (1914) First appearance of Keystone Kops

Mack Sennett's Making a Living (1914) First appearance by Charlie Chaplin

We read about Mack Sennett in his youth and how he dreamed of making movies with the book Mack Made Movies by Don Brown.

This is such a sweet book about his determination to realize his dream. It also echoed some terms we have been learning such as slapstick, Kinetoscope, nickelodeons, and other movie-related vocabulary.

Mack Made Movies inspired interest in Charlie Chaplin, so we watched snippets of the film Chaplin (1992 with Robert Downey Jr. as Chaplin). I would not recommend children watch this movie straight through as there are some scenes involving nudity that may be inappropriate to young viewers. I had seen the movie many times so I was careful which scene to choose.

Chaplin (1992) trailer

We watched scenes about his early childhood, vaudeville performances, unstable mother, and fascination with film. We also watched all scenes with Mack Sennett (played by Dan Aykroyd) and compared what we saw to the book.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Aidyn and I began reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a graphic-heavy dark novel about an orphaned clock keeper boy with secrets. Later in the book, we will meet Georges Melies, whom we have become familiar with in the last few weeks with his films The Vanishing Lady (1896), The Haunted Castle (1896) first horror film, our favorite A Trip to the Moon (1902), and Cinderella (1912).

While we were at Disneyland, we learned a bit more about animation and early film with a tour of the Disney Animation building inside Disney California Adventures.

Fun animator's desk at Off the Page

Inside the Animation building

We were fascinated by a Toy Story zoetrope inside and must have watched it for a solid ten minutes.

The zoetrope was a circular stand with Toy Story figurines in slightly different motions. As the zoetrope spins and the lights blink on and off, the figures appear to move.

Here is a video (not mine) of the Toy Story zoetrope:

After checking that out, we headed to the Animation Academy where we learned to draw Goofy from a real animator. At this point, we were so involved in the activity, I forgot to take pictures!

Here's a video (not mine) of the Animation Academy drawing Mickey Mouse.

Over on Main Street in Disneyland, completely by accident, we stumbled upon a few coin-operated mutoscopes.

Inside were flipbooks that turn as the viewer cranks the handle. We found one entitled "The Adventures of Charlie Chaplin." What luck!

"Forbidden Sweets" was aptly named for this mutoscope inside The Candy Palace.

We are still having a blast with this unit study, so check back soon for more. This week we're exploring cartoons and films from the 1920s including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Felix the Cat, Charlie Chaplin, and early Mickey Mouse shorts. 

1 comment: