Cinema, Theatre and Animation


Mrs. Watson's K/1/2/3/4 class shared a wonderful post on some claymation they prepared. They were inspired by the Wallace and Gromit style of claymation ..

Watch Out Wallace and Gromit!

Hello K/1/2/3/4,

I was fascinated by your post about claymation animation. Cartooning and animation has been one of my hobbies for some time. I thought I would share some of the activities I have had with classes in the past. This first video clip was used to show how a simple object like a stapler can come to life through stop motion animation...

In 2003, my class had the chance to try their own stop motion. They used either objects or drawings to make their animations. They positioned the objects, took a photos, numbered the photos to make a sequence then used Quicktime's "Open Image Sequence" to animate them. Sound was added. Here are their results...

My favourite stop motion animation with a class was made back in 2000. All of the students in the sequence are now adults so I can share the result. We used the school playground. Each student positioned themselves as though sitting on a motorbike. I would take a photo, call out "next", they would move slightly then freeze, another photo would be taken and so on until the sequence was made. At the end, one unfortunate student forgot to check before crossing the road. We should always look carefully before crossing roads. Like the above stop motion, the photos were numbered to make the sequence and Quicktime was used to animate. Here is the result...

With such an interesting post, I can't wait to see the claymation animations you produce. 🙂


For the students who sent me a kind gift. Here is a link to their blog...

Battalion Hawk Bloggers

Hello Battalion Hawk Bloggers,

Well, it did take some time for the parcel to arrive but, as you already know, it finally appeared. Here is what I found inside...

A clapper board to help me align video clips.

A packet of chalk so I can write on the board.

Three rock samples bearing fossils.

Just by chance, later the same day your parcel arrived I had a phone call. I was asked if I was willing to video the opening performance of the Candelo Village Festival. I agreed and realised I had the chance to use the clapper board very soon after receiving it.

This also presented me with another idea, I had a blog where little had been posted as I didn't have a strong use for it. I cleared away some old posts, some of which ended up on this blog because they were my earliest extended comments. After reorganising the layout and content,  I renamed it...

Exploring Ideas: How to and why… A look at blogging, graphics and activities

The idea is to use this blog when I explain how or why I do things the way I do. I left two posts from March, 2012 because they looked at how to write a googol (special number where 1 is followed by 100 zeroes) and how I approach writing a story, particularly long ones.

Your gift gave me an idea for the first post made especially for the blog. It tells how I used the clapper board. I have included a video clip I made for you showing me use the clapper board to mark the film position. I also included 15 seconds of a performance so you can hear a little of my experience on the evening of Friday (April 12).

The people have been deliberately blurred for privacy reasons. You will not have heard the song before as the music festival opening included original works by local composer/musicians. Here is the link to the first real "How to and Why" post...

Aligning Video Clips

Now, let's look at the rocks you sent. There were the three stones and something sounding fossil-like. I'll explain shortly...

 Crinoid or Corallite Fossils?


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Both suggestions people made through Twitter seem reasonable and both types of creatures still exit in our oceans today. Of the two choices, I would favour crinoid-like fossils but, remember, I am not an expert so this is only my opinion. There is a third option I might add soon. Let's look at the two choices...


(Wikipedia reference: Scleractinia )

This is a Wikimedia Commons image of one type of hard coral taken by Nhobgood

Corallite, if I have my information correct, is the fossilised remains of stony corals. When you look at photos, you can see they are well formed, rock-like structures so I would expect fossils of them to include a more regular pattern than in the samples you sent (see the photo below). Of course, it is also possible what you see in the rocks are broken bits of coral cemented together in the way sedimentary rocks can form.


Below is a photo of a piece of coral I found washed up on the shore in Queensland. It came from the Great Barrier Reef. Can you see the pattern of openings where coral polyps once lived?


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(Wikipedia reference: Crinoid )

This is a Wikimedia Commons image of one type of crinoid taken by Alexander Vesanin

Crinoids tend to have small tube-like structures that could be what we see in the stones. There have been some beautiful, almost complete crinoid fossils found. What you see could also be the remains of small shellfish, i.e. their shells (see the photo below). I don't know what rocks are native to your area but, whatever, the stones you sent will now take their place in my rocks and minerals collection. They are my first from Canada. 🙂

Below is a rock I picked up on a beach. You can see, like the samples you sent, it has been rounded by water action. Can you see the shell fossils embedded in it? In these cases, you can see the shell was from spiral shell type similar to ones I sometimes find washed up on our beaches.

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Did I say "something sounding fossil-like" back there? I'll explain.

You know my mind tends to wander in many directions and this is what happened when I saw the packet of chalk. The question came to mind, "What is chalk?" I thought I would share my answer with you.

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Location: Dover, England

I took the above photo when I was in Dover in England. It shows the famous White Cliffs of Dover. The cliffs are chalk but what exactly is chalk?


Here is a quote from Wikipedia...

"Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates (coccoliths) shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores."

(Wikipedia Reference: Chalk )

What this means is chalk has formed under the ocean from the remains of algae so tiny you would need a microscope to examine them properly. Can you imagine the cliffs of chalk in the above photo would have involved many billions of these tiny organisms over a very long time?

Is this the same chalk you sent? While it could be, much of the blackboard chalk manufactured today is made from a stone called gypsum. Below is a photo of gypsum from my collection. This particular piece is known as rose gypsum because of its appearance. (It is shown glued onto a shell for display.)


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What was the third option for the stones you sent?

I can be a very curious person when seeing something interesting. This is what happened when I was looking at the rocks.

I suspected I might not be looking at fossils in rock at all so I broke open the smallest piece of stone so I could examine its centre. I found the stone was made of small crystals. Below is a graphic showing four photos I took of one of the pieces of the small stone. Can you see the shine of the small crystals?

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Now I was really curious because I suspected the stone wasn't fossil bearing sedimentary rock. I thought it might actually be igneous rock, i.e. volcanic rock. I spent more time searching my rocks and minerals books and the internet. I think I might have found what the stones could be. I think they might be diabase (aka dolerite).

Below is a reference for diabase. Visit the site and look at their photo of diabase. Tell me what you think.


Of course, I could be completely wrong but it is fun to try to find answers even if they're sometimes wrong. We can learn from both right and wrong answers if we keep our minds open.

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I just had an afterthought on rereading this post and thought I'd share. When I broke open the small rock and looked inside, I realised I was the first person to have ever seen what's inside that particular stone and now I'm able to share what I found. In your lives, you will have many first person experiences. Will you recognise them when you do? I wonder if that makes us all curiosity explorers a little like early explorers seeing somewhere for the first time?

Yunus left a comment on an earlier extended comment where he commented and asked for more information. Here is a link to the post. scroll down to find his comments...

Yunus on "What technology did I use when younger?"

Hello again Yunus,

"The Video Cameras were really small but very interesting."

Rather than the video (movie) cameras being small, it was the film used in them. The cameras really worked by taking many small photos. They were one after the other on plastic film. Each photo in the film was only 8mm wide. When they were run through a movie projector, they flashed on the screen one after the other quickly enough so we saw them as moving pictures (movies).

Look at this animation I made showing a drawing of a projector. On the left you can see a small movie playing. It was made with an 8mm movie camera. When using a movie projector, you would make in look larger  when the projector showed the movie on a screen. Until recently, cinemas used movie films and large projectors. The only difference is their film used a 35mm series of photos. There were some cinemas using even larger film.

Now I will show you some photos. I still have the movie projector I used in schools back in the 1970s. An uncle also gave me his old 8mm movie camera. I have put a ruler in the photos so you can see their size.

Super 8mm Movie Camera. This one also recorded sound. There was a tiny magnetic strip on the film for the recording of sound. It was like a tiny strip of cassette tape if you have seen them. You can see a reel of 8mm movie film beside the camera.

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The second photo is the 8mm movie projector I used in schools all those years back. You can see a blue film reel and a black one on the projector in the left. Many projectors had one reel at the front and one at the back like the cartoon drawing in the video clip above. The film would be loaded into the projector. Little cogs would catch into the holes on the side of the film and the film would be pulled through  the projector and out of the projector. The extra film reel would be winding the film up as it came out of the project after being seen.

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The next photo shows you a scan of some 8mm movie film and a ruler. You will see the film is 8mm wide. I have shown four sections of the film.

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Now let's look closer at four pieces of 8mm film I have magnified. You can see it is a series of pictures. To save on drawing of cartoons, cartoon films like this used two of each picture. You can see slight changes in the frames. When each picture is projected quickly in turn, we see them as a moving picture. Click on the film to see it larger so you can have a closer look at each frame (picture). The third strip of film shows a scene change after two frames. You can see a car on a road changes to a flying saucer.

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To show you how the brain is fooled by the pictures, here is a video clip looking at the eight frames of the first of the pieces of scanned film.

Let's look at another video clip made using 14 frames from an 8 mm showing a person. You will see the film at 2 fps (frames per second), 6 fps and 12 fps. When we had film taken on a camera and not a cartoon, each frame is different as a person or thing moves.

"How did you have to use the Hole Punchers?"

I think you must mean the holes punched in the film. If you look at the film scan above, you can see holes on the left hand side of each film strip. The projector cogs would grab these holes to pull the film through. Notice each hole is in the middle position to each frame. This makes certain  each picture appears correctly.

Why were the videos silent like Charlie Chaplin?

Film history reference:

Charlie Chaplin reference:

The first movie camera appeared in the 1880s. The camera operator would wind a handle. A shutter would open then close to expose a frame of film. The film would then move to the next frame. Frame after frame the films were made as the camera operator turned the handle. At this early stage, movie cameras were more like a novelty. The earliest known film comes from 1888...

The first films were just of everyday scenes but some realised films could be made to tell stories. Here is a film made in 1902. Again there is no sound. Cinemas would have musicians playing music and possibly people making sound effects as the movie played. This clip has no sound. The film is called "Le Voyage dans la Lune" (A Trip to the Moon).

There were attempts to record sound but it wasn't recorded by the camera. The early attempts had trouble keeping the sound in synch (in the right place) in the movie*. By 1923, they had worked our how to synch sound and in 1927 "The Jazz SInger" was released as the first movie with sound.

Charlie Chaplin first appeared in a film in 1914. When sound came along he, like many others, thought it wouldn't last. People, they thought, would always prefer silent films. He continued making silent films into the 1930s but in 1940 he produced what was probably his first talking movie, "The Great Dictator". He wanted to make a film condemning Adolf Hitler before America entered World War II. I have this film in my DVD library. It is my favourite of all of his films.

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* Synching sound means putting the sound to a film so the people's mouths move to the sound as they should and music plays in time with dancers or people playing musical instruments. From my first video camera I owned I was able to record sound but the quality wasn't always good. There could be, and still is, a problem with noises from the audience.

In 1985 I filmed my first school production. A high school known as Prairiewood High in Sydney knew of my filming and asked me to make a VHS tape for them. Wanting better sound, they gave me an audio cassette tape of the production. It contained the sound from the microphones so little could be heard of the audience. In order to synch the sound, I had to drill a hole through a cassette player and tighten or loosen a screw to slow (tighten) or speed up (loosen) the sound.

These days I use a digital audio recorder and can line up sound on the computer.

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This clip was created as an animation demonstration for a class looking at animation.

These simple images were originally drawn from cartoon images drawn in a old cartooning book entitled "How to Draw Cartoons". They were drawn using a graphics tablet into files on a computer then linked into an animation.

The hopping frog is a 6 frame animation whereas the rabbit uses 8 frames. Each repeats 16 times.

Hello Maha,

I thought you might be interested in some photos and information I have about the Harry Potter films. I gathered some of the photos and information while I was in the United Kingdom in 2010.


This is Kings Cross Station in London. It's the railway station used in the Harry Potter films when Harry had to catch the train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the first film you see Harry and Hagrid crossing a bridge over the platforms. When I was there I couldn't cross it as they were starting to pull it down.

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Do you recognise the next photo?

The Platform 9 3/4 sign from the movie was stored in the National Railway Museum in York. It had hung on the platform at Kings Cross Station.

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While in London, I looked for signs of dragons but the next photo was the closest I could find.

Maybe Harry could cast a spell and bring the dragon to life.

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Did you know the Australian High Commission building, known as Australia House, in London was the original Gringott's Bank?

Sites all around England and Scotland were used in the film.


Look at the next photo. Do you know this railway station?

This is Goathland station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Whenever Harry travelled by the Hogwarts Express, he ended up at this station, said to be the closest to Hogwarts. In the films, it was known as Hogsmeade.


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Now look at the next photo.

This is a photo of part of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. It wasn't used in the films but doesn't it remind you of Hogwarts? Like this castle, Hogwarts was high up on a mountain top. It's thought by some J. K. Rowling created Hogwarts using ideas from buildings around Edinburgh.

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To see all of the United Kingdom sites used in the films would take a long time but at least I was able to see some. 🙂