Children learn about stop-motion animation at summer camp

Friday, August 3, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

CHESTERFIELD — It's not easy making a superhero fly or a skating star jump up off the ice, but some kids were doing that and more at a stop-motion animation summer camp last week at Chesterfield Arts.

Seven youngsters in sixth through eighth grades learned about creating storyboards, making flat or 3D figures with moveable parts and different facial expressions, and animating those characters while they recorded using a stop-motion animation video camera. Music and backgrounds were added, and each student got a copy of the video to take home.

Luba Brignets, who works full time as an art teacher at Lafayette High School in Wildwood, taught the camp each morning, with some assistance from her husband, Sergey.

"We go step-by-step with the children," said Brignets, adding this was the first time the class was offered. "Animation has been a passion for me since I was a child. I've been self-taught, using software like Toon Boom. So doing this class is like a dream come true, especially since these kids have the same dream."

While most students were local, Jordan Sparr, 14, of Houston, was taking the class while on vacation.

"My grandma, Nancy Sparr, works at Chesterfield Arts, and this was something new I never tried before," said Jordan, who was creating a paper superhero character.

Matt Ramirez, 14, of Chesterfield, "likes art and creating things, and the class seemed interesting." He was working on a multi-colored sea serpent for his video.

His pal, Nick DeFrancesco, 13, of Wildwood, admitted his mother prompted him to take the class, "but it's been pretty good, though some of it's hard, like sewing pieces of paper together to make this character."

He also was using wires and foil, as well as clay for the head, to make his own snake, resplendent in multiple shades of blue.

Next to him, Jake Tessler, 11, of Town & Country, was crafting a multi-limbed green monster.

"I like making characters come to life in a movie," Jake said. He praised both Briginets as "very nice, teaching us in a way so it's not too hard."

Sergey Briginets showed Jake's video from the day before, when he'd made a figure dance frantically.

Nathan Urbin, 12, of Chesterfield, was working on a tiny version of an alien character. He also has a larger alien.

"I'm just creating some extras for him, like grenades and flamethrowers," Nathan said. "For my video, the alien steals a bobsled and rides off. I just love animation. I've done it before with Legos, but this camp is way better, because of your character's moveable parts."

Jamie May, 11, of Wildwood, crafted a bird for her video, though she wasn't yet certain of what it would do.

"It doesn't take long to make these figures, which was kind of surprising," Jamie said.

Emily Howard, 11, of Wildwood, stepped up with Sergey Briginets to make her skater take to the ice, the figure looking smart in a glittery pink construction paper dress.

Afterward, Jordan got some tips from Sergey Briginets on how to make her superhero fly through the clouds.

"You don't want shaky animation, so the figure can't be moved too much at a time," he told her, adjusting the camera focus.

Jordan wanted to make the figure's arm go up.

"We'll move it little by little, not zero to 180 degrees in one move," he advised, as Jordan moved the arm a tad and took a recording. He showed her how to put a movement on a loop, to be repeated over and over.

"Show the movement of each cloud as your figure goes past," he said, as Jordan adjusted the clouds.

"OK, I'm putting a different face and hair on the figure now, to show his face turning as he moves," Jordan said.

"That looks good," he said.

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