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Austin Kids Making Claymation Movies Teach Us How to Make One Too

Laura Rice/KUT
Gabriella Meshako and Chiara Morel take pictures of their clay characters.

With school out of session, lots of kids are filling their time with summer camps. But they’re not just playing with water balloons and eating s’mores. At the Austin Film Festival summer camp, some kids are learning how to make claymation movies.

KUT showed up on day four of the five-day camp … so we asked some kids if we could borrow their notes:

1. Come Up With a Story (Preferably About Monsters)

Here's some story pitches from the film camp students:

  • "So this boy has trouble falling asleep and he sees a whole bunch of things and he thinks they’re monsters…" nine-year-old Tate Philpott says.
  • "So then we have this monster here, Max’s monster over there, and soshe defeats them all. And at the last point one of them touches her and she’s like, whoah..." 12-year-old Xander Redheendran says.

2. Get Some Clay, Make Some Characters

Credit Laura Rice/KUT
An AFF camp volunteer helps Tate Philpott, 9, with some clay.

"I think making the characters. So you usually shape them out of clay," nine-year-old Chiara Morel says.

3. Design Your Set (or at Least Make Some Paper Grass)

"We had to design it," Morel and Meshako say. "Well, we didn’t design it, our other teammates designed it. – We made the grass though. We made the grass."

4. Take Lots of Pictures

"We just have to move it centimeter by centimeter," Morel said. "Then each centimeter, we take our hands off and take a picture and then we put it all together and it looks like it’s moving all by itself."

Credit Laura Rice/KUT
Gabriella Meshako and Chiara Morel take pictures of their clay characters.

  5. Put it All Together on the Computer

"Yeah, you could use like iMovie, you could use FinalCut Pro or you could just use iStopMotion – which works really well," 12-year-old Lucas Cahoon says.

6. Be Super Patient...

"It takes like 10 or 20 pictures per second or minute or something so it actually takes a lot of work," Meshako says.

7. ... And Don't Try to Make the Next "Frankenweenie" Right Away (87 minutes!!)

"Those are people who’ve devoted their lives to such things and they’re really good at it," Redheendran says. "So it’s mostly just practice. You get practice and you get better at it."

A screen shot of one of the Claymation films made by AFF Summer Campers.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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