The argument for creating stop motion animation WITH me

A couple of years ago I got a bee in my bonnet about making a stop motion animation (see August 2, 2017 post from this blog), and ever since then I’ve had an idea brewing. I’ve long believed that the very act of creating a scientific illustration or animation is an exercise in challenging one’s assumptions about their model and generally thinking about their science in a way they may not have had to before. I feel so strongly about the utility of this that I want to work with scientists to help them create their own animations to describe their work. Stop motion animation is perfect for this because it doesn’t require any artistic talent or mastery of any software. With a phone, a free app called Stop Motion Studio, and some clay, colored paper, or random detritus you have lying around, anyone can do this.

So the book trailer below was largely a professional development project for me, and one thing that I learned is that while stop motion can be a little painstaking and tedious, it is exactly the sort of activity that leads to the “flow” state that you keep hearing about. I imagined that as you animate your science, you spend time thinking about each step just that much longer while giving your brain a chance to wander a little. It’s the getting-ideas-in-the-shower effect.

Don’t worry, I still happily make journal covers, publication figures, business as usual, etc. But I want to add this to my list of services and I hope I will begin to mount evidence to support my hypothesis that creating animation can advance science in unexpected ways. Also, it’s fun, would make a great team-building activity for a lab, and at the end of the day you have an animation you can use in your talks, put on your website, and even include in your supplemental information.