It’s a gray, drizzly Saturday morning, but the children of the Danbury Connecticut Ward aren’t in their pajamas watching cartoons or playing video games. They’re busy making videos of their own. And their videos will help thousands of people learn about the Book of Mormon!
It all started when their bishop had a great idea. Bishop Summerhays is a media expert who teaches children from many countries how to use technology to create positive messages. Why not teach the children in his ward the same thing?
Now the children, joined by children from the Newtown Ward, are sitting at five long tables in the Primary room. Stacks of construction paper and poster board, pens, and scissors are on the tables. Each group will be making an animated video of a different Book of Mormon story:
The Journey to the Promised Land
Jesus Visits the Nephites
Moroni Buries the Gold Plates
Step 1: First the children think about how they will tell their story. They draw scenes on special paper called “storyboards.” Close-up scenes show people’s emotions. Long-distance scenes show background and setting. In-between ones show action.
Step 2: Now everyone draws figures on construction paper. They draw arms and legs separately so the figures will be able to move. They also draw eyes open and shut and mouths in different shapes. Then they cut out the figures, which are called “puppets.”
Step 3: Finally the animation begins. A digital camera on a tripod is focused on a piece of poster board—the background for a scene. The camera is attached to a computer.
One group is shooting a battle scene between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Each child is in charge of two or three puppets. The children arrange their puppets on the poster board. Then someone hits the space bar on the computer. Flash! The first frame of the video is shot.
Now everyone moves their puppets a fraction of an inch. Flash! “This is fun!” says Brooke B.
It takes 900 shots to make one minute of animated video. After 30 shots, the children have made two seconds of film. They stop to watch their work on the computer screen. “That was awesome!” says Noah C. as they watch their paper warriors come to life.
Later at another activity, the children will tell the stories, and their voices will be recorded. Then Bishop Summerhays will put the video pictures and the recorded voices together to make a movie.
Last year, these children made videos of Old Testament stories like Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, Jonah and the whale, and Daniel in the lions’ den. They had a premiere in a local movie theater, where their families, friends, and neighbors got to see their videos on a big screen. Since then, about 10,000 people have watched their Old Testament videos online. Cierra D., age 11, brought a friend to last year’s premiere. She thinks it’s great to make stories “about what you believe.”
Now the children can’t wait for this year’s premiere. They hope even more people will learn about the Book of Mormon by watching their new videos online.
And they are more enthusiastic about the scriptures because they brought them to life through their own creations.
You Can Do It Too!
Here’s a cartoon to show you how you can do your own animation project.
Pick some friends and make a group (3–4)
Read your story from the Book of Mormon
Think about the best way to tell your story
Draw the story on paper
Make the paper puppets
Animate the story on video
Record the voices
Prepare for the premiere!
Illustrations by Val Bagley
See More Online
You can watch a how-to video at friend.lds.org.
Photographs by Greg Lewis and Andy Phillips