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Trapped Bird in a cage

Ever wonder how cartoons are created? Basically what happens is the artist draws the cartoon characters in multiple sequential images and presents them to us in a manner that causes our minds to fill in the missing pieces. This experiment helps demonstrate the basic principle of animation.

  1. Draw a picture of a tiger on the index card.
  2. On another card the same size, draw a picture of a cage.
  3. Now tape the two cards, with the drawings facing outwards, on opposite sides of a pen.
  4. Spin the pen between your hands or fingers.

Does the tiger appear to be trapped in the cage? It appears to be caged because of how your eyes and brain work. When you see the image of the tiger, your brain holds onto the image for a short time–even though the image appears and disappears quickly. The same thing happens with the image of the cage. The two images actually overlap in your brain so the tiger appears to be in the cage.

Animation artists actually follow this same process to create cartoons. But, rather than use just two images (in our case, the tiger was one image and the cage another), animation is composed of many different images, all drawn in such a manner to suggest motion to our minds.

Click to get puzzle piece!

Parent/Teacher/Advanced Notes

Animation is a motion-picture technique in which filmmakers create the illusion of motion, rather than recording it with a camera as live action. In making an animated film, a filmmaker photographs a series of drawings or objects, one by one. Each drawing makes up one frame of the film. The position of a character or scene changes very slightly from frame to frame. When the film is shown through a projector, the subjects appear to move.

Experiment Supplies

Supplies: Pencil, Tape, Index card

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