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Moving Pictures Lab: Using Stop Motion and Time Lapse to think about Documentation and Narrative (iii)

Written by Ben Worthington
August 27, 2013

By the end of the post-it flick lab, students can have two things.  One, they can post links on a shared document and see the whole season of postit movies made by classmates.  Two, they have rough tools to make all manner of video for documentary or narrative purposes.  As an example, I’ll look around and undoubtedly see an animation of trees growing up around a house, or a plant growing from seed, or something of the like.  The principle to illustrate here is that time can be sped up or drawn out relative to the subject—the cannon blast is short lived, whereas the tree animation captures decades of growth and change.
This ability to document change over time seems to be a perfect complement to a documentary approach.  In any process of making or doing, incremental change is taking place.  With a little planning and consistency, a series of carefully shot images could show a student’s spring garden breaking up from prepared ground or the brushwork involved in composing an image on canvas.  Coffee tables being built, cars or houses painted, high jumps increasing over a training period.  Here is a shoddy film of a roof being replaced.  Above is a short flick showing a plant being watered.  Here’s a better one.  As a text created alongside a research program, students making these sequential photoessays have the ability to think about change incrementally as it might be applied in process relationships like natural phenomena or goal attainment. This seems to be the most logical and effective application of this kind of filmmaking—presenting information in an effective order and context—either for narrative or rhetorical purposes.