Potomac Almanac

This story was published on February 26, 2014.

Fifth Graders Create Animated Movie

Thousands of drawings made “The Extraordinary Fifth-Grade Field Trip.”

by Colleen Healy

Fifth-grade students from Beverly Farms Elementary School wait to watch the world premiere of their film "The Extraordinary Fifth-Grade Field Trip."

While many movie lovers will be watching to see who wins the Oscars in Hollywood this weekend; a world premiere movie debuted here in Potomac.

Ninety-eight Beverly Farms Elementary School fifth graders and their parents sat down to watch an animated film on Monday, Feb. 24. Their eyes were glued to the screen with good reason: they created the film themselves. The film is titled “The Extraordinary Fifth-Grade Field Trip,” a 14-minute film composed of 6,438 drawings. Each second of the movie equals 10 drawings.

Leila CabibArtist-in-residence Leila Cabib introduces the film "The Extraordinary Fifth-Grade Field Trip." She had the students read adventure stories and tall tales to find inspiration for their film.

Inspired by their reading of adventure stories and tall tales, the students gave free rein to their imagination as each came up with his or her own animated field trip adventure. Working with artist-in-residence Leila Cabib, each student designed a storyboard illustrating the key scenes of their animated segment and then created and filmed numerous sequential drawings to bring the story to life.

Each of the students also created a series of drawings morphing their last image into the following student’s first image, so that one scene flows into the next. The students also collaborated on the creation of the video’s animated title.

During Cabib’s residency, students learned about the history and principles of animation through the use of early optical toys. They learned how to create thaumatropes and flip-books, drew animated cycles for the zoetrope and employed the tools, techniques and vocabulary of the professional animator as they created their storyboards and sequential drawings and filmed their work.

Storyboards for "The Extraordinary Fifth-Grade Field Trip.

She enjoyed working with the students and found the students "incredibly creative and imaginative. They worked so hard and I enjoyed seeing their ideas and what they came up with. The film gave them the opportunity to come up with their own story and that got them very excited about the project. We stressed individual freedom with their own ideas and encouraged them to create their own adventure. Their level of enthusiasm rekindled my original interest in animation. I think we may have a lot of future filmmakers or artists in class. There is a lot of artistic talent here.”

A drawing from the video created by one of the students: Vicente Farias Gutierrez.

The proof that this movie gets four stars and two thumbs up is not only from the cheering audience but also from the filmmakers themselves.

Fifth grader Brooke feels “making a movie is fun to be able to create something that is going to entertain people.”

In Isabella’s sequence, her character turned into a fish and
morphed underwater. She said "it took a long time to draw something morphing into something else."

Parker thought the project was “really fun but my hand was sore after drawing so many pictures.”

Quinn thought the movie would be short “but it turned out to be much bigger. I did 70 drawings.”

Some of the fifth-grade filmmakers pose after the world premiere of their film at Beverly Farms Elementary School.

Sasha thought the best part of the project was coloring. “I love color coding so that the color pops out at my eyes. I love color and do not like black and white.”

Claire “loved the drawing part. It took one month to make this movie.”

Jennifer enjoyed the premiere “because there is so much creativity in the film.”

Taejoo “loved using my imagination and creating something out of the ordinary. At the premiere it is exciting to see mine and other classmates' drawings and how they created them.”

The residency was funded by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council and by the Beverly Farms Elementary School PTA. View the movie at http://www.youtube.com/user/LeilaCabib.