Thursday, November 5, 2009

Behind the scenes on Subitize Me: Amazing Math (Article)

Subitize Me: Amazing Math is a DVD recourse and teaching aid for educators released by MovieMakers just last month. I was the Artistic Director for the project. The main film on the DVD is a 20min adventure film that teaches a fundamental math skill called "Subitizing". I am not going to get in to that much in this article, as I want to talk about the technical and artistic side of things.

Subitize Me was shot entirely on a green-screen stage, and takes place in fully CG sets made from scratch and contains over 250 visual effects shots. In the end, every shot seen in the film is a visual effects shot in one way or another.

Now, for all the geeks who just need to know, we used Blender for all our 3D work, and Apple's Shake for the compositing. I did a little work in Apple's Motion as well, and a few of the titles were done in Final cut pro itself.

Wile that is impressive for a film of this kind, effects and cool eye candy do not make a movie, what is really special about

this film is how he handled the meet of the film. The script.

This is a math film, a sit down and learn something film. I wanted the film to be more than numbers, it had to connect with kids. As a child I was not a math lover, so I knew I wanted to make sure we had the kids attention. The math concepts in Subitize Me are powerful, as we made the film I found that my math skills were even improving in little ways. Story engages people, and that includes children. Stories are a powerful teaching tool, a vehicle that communicates ideas and principles strongly. The kids want to watch films like this, they get engaged by the story and learn all kinds of important lessons along the way.

I always try to use everything I have at my disposal to make sure our films are accessible and engaging to kids, little things like making sure the camera is positioned at a child's hight rather than adult hight can make big differences. In Subitize Me I created worlds that were full of color, and fit in to a child's point of view as much as plausible. We even endeavored to write dialog that, wile being grammatically correct, was also what you would except to hear from child. There is a lot of little details to think about that can easily be missed.

Subitze Me was a lesson in time management for us, we created a project that was much larger and more extravagant than it should have been from a business perspective. That is really good thing for people who will be using this product, they get a lot of bang for their buck.

Written by Dallas Lammiman - Project Artistic Director.

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