Gilgamesh Animation Project 2003


Jim and Becca's Third Graders

Enkidu, the wild man of the forest, is created by the Gods and given life.

Enkidu in the forest

Enkidu in the forest

After completing two curricula on the Epic of Gilgamesh and the History of the Moving Image we decided to combine the two. The result was an animated retelling of some of the more action-packed elements of the long Epic.

Students split into groups of two and three and started collaborating over a period of weeks to create storyboards for their various scenes and then paint backgrounds and create all the moving parts necessary for the animation.

The backgrounds and moving parts were done with black felt pen and watercolor on thick durable paper to allow for manipulation. In the photo lab, each group of two or three would place their large background sheet on an enlargement table with a digital camera aiming down onto it. Under the background sheet we placed a thin piece of sheet metal and on the back of each moving part the students cut and stuck small magnetic strips. In this way, all the now magnetized moving parts along with the thin sheet of metal sandwiched the watercolor background. This provided stability for things like arms and legs as they were moved little by little between shots from the overhead digital camera. Under the tutelage of Joseph Sondow, an animator and programmer, the students were walked through the painstaking procedures involved in creating lifelike movement of legs, swords, and flying heads.

Once the shooting was complete Mr. Sondow then collated the thousands of digital images and strung them together in a format that could be projected for viewing.

The final presentation was embedded in a student written play reenacting the Epic of Gilgamesh. The animated shorts were projected behind and above the actors during the performance. This avoided the children having to act out the more violent scenes from the legendary Epic.

The play was a great success and much enjoyed by the other lower school classes as well as the parents. Due to the colossal efforts made by the children we are glad to be able to present the fruits of their labor to a wider audience. Enjoy!

Scene One:

In this scene, Enkidu, the wild man of the forest, is created by the Gods and given life.
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