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Making a TED-Ed Lesson: Two ways to animate slam poetry


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TEDEd Animation

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Slam poetry packs an emotional punch by using powerful verbal metaphors; animation can do the same using visual tools. TED-Ed animators show how two separate techniques -- rotoscoping and more traditional hand-drawn animation -- bring to life the multilayered process of becoming a slam poet.

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Max Fleischer, creator of the Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons, was the first to patent the process of rotoscoping in 1917: His brother Dave dressed up in a clown suit and was rotoscoped to create the character of Koko the Clown, one of the earliest cartoon stars of the Fleischers’ Out of the Inkwell series: Rotoscoping was used by Walt Disney’s animators in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), and was extensively employed in later productions, primarily as a means of motion analysis. Other notable rotoscoped works from animation history: Princess Iron Fan (Tien Shan Gong Zhu - 1941) was China’s first animated feature film: The Tale of the Fisherman and the Goldfish (Skazka o rybake i rybke - 1950) is one of many Russian animated films from this time period to extensively use rotoscoping; the technique was considered in keeping with the documentary ethos of state-decreed Socialist Realism during the Soviet American animation director Ralph Bakshi used rotoscoping in several animated feature films produced in the 1970’s and 1980’s, including Lord of the Rings (1978) and (American Pop (1981): In 1997, animator and software developer Bob Sabiston created Rotoshop, the digital rotoscoping software later used in the Richard Linklater films Waking Life (2001) & A Scanner Darkly (2006). Snack and Drink (1999) was his first short film created with the software: Contemporary filmmaker/animator/painter Jeff Scher creates rotoscoped films using a variety of mixed media and source footage. See his 1992 film Milk of Amnesia here:
To learn more about the composer for this TED-Ed Lesson, visit the Facebook page here: Bronzelephant.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Composer Bronzelephant
  • Producer TED-Ed

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