Mr. Block Demonstrates the Art of Animation


Photo courtesy of EDHS

John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar Walt Disney Animation, once stated, “If you’re sitting in your minivan, playing your computer animated films for your children in the back seat, is it the animation that’s entertaining you as you drive and listen? No, it’s the storytelling. That’s why we put so much importance into a story. No amount of great animation will save a bad story.”

Mr. Block is the teacher of Art of Animation at Golden Elementary School for the 2018 PYLUSD Summer Enrichment Program, which runs from June 25 to July 26. During the school year, he normally teaches at El Dorado High School in the Digital Media Arts Academy.

Block’s class is designed to teach children about animation, as stated in the name of the class. When asked what inspired him to create his class,  Block replied, “I have always enjoyed cartoons. Even when I was a kid, I tried to figure out how my favorite animated shows were made. Then, I started experimenting with stop motion animation and realized how easy and fun it was, and I could create any scene or characters I could imagine. This is the reason I was inspired to create this class. I wanted to share the fun experience I had when I started learning how to make animations.”

He also added, “The main goal I have for my students is for them to understand what goes into making different kinds of animations including hand-drawn, computer-generated, and stop motion animations. Secondarily, I want my students to uncover their passion for creating art, whether it is animated, a still image, or both.”

Lastly, when asked if there were any challenges in creating his class, Block replied, “One challenge I face is not knowing how much time will be needed to make sure all of my students understand the lessons and can demonstrate what they’ve learned.”

As we started to learn more about him, we went around interviewing students who are in his class. Student Shiven, age 11, expressed that he really enjoys the class. According to Shiven, “Mr. Block makes the class enjoyable by showing funny stop motion videos.” His favorite part of his class is “being able to make some stop motion videos.”

Another student, Sarah, also age 11, remarked, “I like making animations with an app called Piskels. I also enjoy the fun approach that Mr. Block has when he teaches, and my favorite part of the class is learning new things about animation.”

Additionally, Reghan, age 11, responded that she enjoys Mr. Block’s class and loves doing animation. Reghan loves how Mr. Block is funny, kind and enjoyable, and her favorite part of his class is the flip book animation.

Mr. Block is a very busy man, but when he has free time, he loves spending time with his family and friends. He loves going to the movies and playing games, and he runs a freelance graphic design business.

One quote Mr. Block finds particularly meaningful is by John Lasseter: Remember your audience and what’s important to them! Once you have a strong story, use the tools at your disposal to tell that story in an engaging way that enriches your narrative. Big flashy visuals may seem like the most important piece of the puzzle, but keep your audience’s entertainment at the forefront of your process.”