12th March, 2019
That day, we gathered at Mr Nieć’s house for promised Erasmus Project afterparty.
We were occupying his living room, where we enjoyed our time together. He greeted us with a delicious cake, which he baked himself and biscuits made by his children and wife. We watched our animations again and came to the conclusion that they do actually look better to our eyes than they did right after we had finished working on them. Perhaps we developed some emotional distance to our creation?
We were informed that there are still a few things connected with the project that need to be taken care of. But we will manage, as we have already managed to complete many tasks. Before the end of March, we need to meet up with the elementary school students to help them finish their animation. The second task is to edit the making off films. Each and every one of us will also have to design a poster advertising their animation. From those, best two will be chosen (one for each legend) and compared to best two works of finnish students, to choose the very best ones.
In general, the meeting passed in a friendly atmosphere. Possibly, there will be another one in June – outdoors, by the fire.
“Huomenta” means “hello”.
Did you ever dream of watching animated films during the class time? Well, sounds like a strange idea, especially if you are in high school, doesn’t it?
On 16th April 2018 we said “huomenta” to eight students and three teachers from Finland. They came to participate in an Erasmus project, which included not only watching animated films, but also learning how to make one and actually doing it. That two weeks had been a very lively time in our school. Everyday was full of work and joy. As the time passed by, we got to know each other more. We also had an opportunity to participate in various workshops led by animation experts, who happened to be our schools graduates – Wioletta Sowa, an animated films director and Karolina Borgiasz, a student of animation at Łodź Art Academy. After receiving some practical tips, we got down to work. We had to do everything from the beginning. Storyboards, character and background designs, the puppets… a lot of work. During project time some of us organised a workshop for kids in the primary school in Nowy Wiśnicz.
The Erasmus project definitely is an activity worth joining. Meeting new people, facing new challenges…
The classroom was filled with sounds of chattering, you could hear many conversations going on. It was not a lesson. Or not an official lesson, let us say. Everyone around was busy with all kinds of tasks. Writing, drawing, using some complicated installations, which consisted of a few electronic appliances each, somehow connected with cables. The room was barely lit. The only sources of light were lamps, located at three tables. This arrangement was made to provide the best possible conditions for… For what ?
All this movement was caused by the Erasmus+AnimPolFin project, which was a student exchange between Poland and Finland. Last April, Finnish students visited Wiśnicki Plastyk. This time, it was Polish students’ turn to travel to Lybecker Institute in Raahe. That part of the exchange took place from 15th to 26th October 2018. Sixteen members of two international groups and their teachers got together again to work on two animated films, based on local legends from both countries.
That part of the project started with a professional preparation. We were given a chance to participate in lectures led by experienced animators. First of them was Metsämarja Aittokoski, the director of famous Finnish children animation called Pikkuli. Later on, we would consult our scripts with her and draw more detailed storyboards, taking the tips she gave us into consideration.
The second specialist who honoured us with a visit was Heta Jokinen, an animator and also background designer of Pikkuli. She performed making a short film in front of the group, to show how does this technique work in practise and explained the principles of animation, according to Disney. She stayed with us for one day and helped to start the realisation of the project.
Using puppets props and backgrounds they had prepared in Wiśnicki Plastyk artistic workshops, students started shooting their movies.
Despite some technical perturbations and many challenges to face, working on an animated production turned out to be great fun! The joy and excitement of learning new skills, experimenting, trying… together.
Working in groups was another valuable experience the project offered. Not only did we practise our language skills, but also had a possibility of further development of our social qualities. Getting on well with a group seems to be quite a useful feature in life, as well as it can be a source of happiness and satisfaction for a human beings, which are, in fact, social creatures.
During the project we had observed some characteristic of the famous Finnish education system. For example, a specific structure of breaks. First coffee break begins at 9.00 am. The lunch break is set at 11.00 am and can last even up to an hour! Then, there is another coffee break at 1.00 pm. The lessons end at 3 o’clock. The classes are implemented in a form of multiple projects, which each student has to complete during a year. Students are encouraged to do this tasks on their own, however, are free to ask their supervising teacher for help, when needed.
Besides working, we also had lots and lots of fun. At the evenings, we would gather at the teachers’ apartament to eat dinner and watch films. Our Finnish friends organised gaming afternoons and at the weekend, took us on a wonderful excursion. The first stop was Ranua ZOO, where many northern species live , such as snowy owl, arctic fox, volves and manul, a wild cat species famous for its “grumpy” facial expression. Second part of the trip was a visit to Rovaniemi, the Santa Claus village. On the way back, there was a possibility to go candy shopping, right next to the Swedish border.
Eventually, a survey has been conducted among participants. According to the answers, the most valuable aspect of this project was our meeting. The second most important thing was a possibility to obtain or improve skills not only in animation, but also language and social qualities.
One of the students wrote: Projects like this one can show how much we all have in common. It let me meet people that normally I would have never met, I am grateful for that. This project gave me an opportunity to practice my English and work as a member of a team. I have obtained a lot of new experiences and skills.
Another answer was I think there should be more projects like this. To learn about the habits of other countries and broaden the knowledge of the subject of the project.
Personally, I hope in the future each and every student will have an opportunity to take part in an exchange during their school time or studies. Both because of its educational qualities presented in a fun way, as well as an important cultural experience, which teaches us to appreciate and respect one another.
29th January, 2019
That evening, the project presentation was held. Students living at the boarding school gathered at the dining hall to watch photos and listen to memories from the project time.
A slide show had been prepared to give viewers a brief impression of the whole process, from the beginning, till the end. Well, almost, because the premiere of the animations themselves was planned to take place in spring. Most of our project activities were described, either by the teachers or the students, who took part in certain tasks. Of course, the fun part was also there. For example, documentation of our excursion to Lapland, places we ate at, free time activities or beautiful views of Raahe. Some of the pictures taken by our group photographers turned out to be hilarious. Also, present students were encouraged to take advantage of such projects in the future…
It seems the project has brought benefits not only for people who have taken part in it, but also the whole school’s community, as more of those are planned and some of the patterns observed during our stay in Finland were proposed to be adopted by our school.
Like setting card games table at every floor for students to play during breaks. Why not? That might be a perfect way to relax a little between classes, as the Finns do!
26th October, 2018
Our last day in Raahe.
It was the time of packing, cleaning, summarising and hugging for goodbye.
We have had a really wonderful time there, spent with wonderful friends 🙂
In the morning, we helped with dish washing, cleaning the classroom and also collecting Lybecker’s bed sheets and towels from our apartments. We filled the survey prepared by Marleena, asking for participants opinion about the project. Later, the answers will be used in an article promoting the project.
Then, we watched the animation made by German students., who were preparing their animation next to us. It was great, so they received a huge applause. We promised to show them ours, as soon as it is edited. We received some souvenirs – buttons with beautiful designs printed by Lybecker students.
Eventually, it was time to say goodbye. It was a very emotional moment. We lacked words to express our feelings, so we just hugged. Well, mostly. Those, who wanted. Hopefully, we will keep some valuable connections with Finland…
25th October, 2018
We woke up to a stunning view – the snow was falling! On the way to school, we admired the white, pure blanket and its sparkling reflections in Raahe’s buildings.
Group Better, who had already finished their shooting, were cleaning, collecting files and arranging them.
Group One got to continue work almost immediately, as everything had already been organised the day before. With two animation sets and a good share of duties, the progress was quick.
For lunch we ate the rest of the food from the day before, and then ordered some pizza 🙂
Last scene, the death of the King, was animated by Ms Kate with Pekka’s assistance, as we considered it to be a great honour to have them involved in shooting that specific scene.
The last scene we shot was definitely the most exciting to work on. Some group members, two photographers, Pekka and Ms Kate gathered to take part in the performance. In this scene, the King’s Beskid death is shown by crushing the ceramic puppet.
With this accent, Group One finished shooting.
Again we had a film evening This time we watched a film based on Shakespeare’s drama – “Much ado about nothing “
24th October, 2018
In the morning, Group One was still struggling with getting the laptop and the program to work. While Group Better was shooting, group One did things that did not require use of the program.The narration was recorded. It was decided to use Marleena’s voice, as we assumed she had the best accent. Then, the sound editor, Teemu, has taken care of the recordings. We also cleaned the classroom a bit.
Today, we had lunch at vocational school in Raahe. It was a chance for us to try Finnish food in a different place.
Happily, Group One received another laptop with the program installed. The program was working 🙂 Finally, we could work freerly. Soon, the Group Better finished, so group One overtook their animation set and doubled their work speed. As the work progressed fast, they decided to stay a bit longer in the afternoon in order to shoot just a few more scenes.
23rd October, 2018
In Group Better things went rather smooth. Although some scenes might need to be taken again later, the work progressed fast.
However, Group One had to face multiple challenges. The computer failed again in the morning and we needed to install our animation program called Dragon Frame on another device. While the program was loading, we were playing video games with Omar, then Mika – one of the Finnish teachers entered the classroom and took pictures of us in this situation.
Today, we had a very international lunch. Everything started from Omar, who enjoys cooking very much,, suggested preparing something extraordinary and delicious. We decided to join him and finally we ate traditional Finnish, Iraqi and Polish food.
Marleena brought lingonberry (some kind of mountain cranberry) pudding, rich in vitamin C, served with sugar and milk. Omar was preparing his specials for 14 hours! It was baklawa and a kind of Iraqi “gołąbki”, with meat as well as vegetarian.
Mr Nieć and Zuza spent the morning grating potatoes for potato pancakes, baking beetroots and roasting meat.
Project participants from Germany also joined us at the common table.
After the delicious meal, with help of all five teachers, we finally managed to fix the technical problems, and we were able to continue shooting.
22nd October, 2018
In the morning, we were first at the school’s door, as Finnish students and teachers had holiday. Luckily, we were allowed to work in there. We were worried, that our Finnish project participants would lose their week off school, but happily, they can take it at different time. Since morning, we had continued shooting the next scenes of our films, while all the project teachers disappeared in another classroom in order to hold a meeting. After they finished the teacher to teacher talk, they were there to give us a hand. As it was decided before, we switched our tasks, to try as much new things as possible, which turned out to be incredibly exciting and at times, just hilarious. Trying, failing, learning, doing… etc.
We started to design the production’s posters. Also Ms Kate translated the Group’s One script from English to beautiful English. We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, located at the top of the highest building in Raahe, right next to the Bay. The food was delicious and the view was breathtaking. After the lunch break, we continued working until 4 pm, when most of us started to nod off or laugh hysterically in the classroom. Perhaps it was our limit for that day.
21st October, 2018
Sunday was a time of chillout. As we did not have any assignments for today, we could enjoy a long, quiet and pleasant morning. We were welcome to eat breakfast and dinner at the teachers apartament and we had lunch together at a local pizza restaurant. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t good for a walk, but we spent the Sunday afternoon resting and recharging our batteries for another week of project work 🙂