QUEENS, New York -- Visitors to the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens can go behind the screen to learn how movies are made, and the fact the exhibit is interactive makes it more meaningful.
What makes this so special is the way it engages the hearts, minds and hands of kids.
"LAIKA: Life in Stop Motion" is devoted to the movies of the LAIKA studio which specializes in stop motion animation.
The company's "Coraline" is the third most popular such movie in history. The magic of this movie depends on movement and the manipulation of small figures called puppets which are photographed over time.
"You have an object that you're bringing to life," explained the exhibit's curator Barbara Miller. "And you're photographing it, and in between the photographs, you're changing the position ever so slightly and photographing it again and on and on and on."
Miller pointed out this technique is as old as the movies. It was already quite refined by the time it was used to make King Kong climb The Empire State Building in 1933.
The exhibit is thoroughly up to date and meant to inspire the great-grandchildren of the folks who saw that original classic.
There are eight stations set top at the museum to allow visitors to try this for themselves.
"You move the puppet ever so slightly, then, you press the button to record one frame," said college student Sterre Rutten as she demonstrated how to make a short clip. "It's basically 24 frames per second so you would have to cut every movement up into like 24 frames."
She observed that, "practice makes perfect," and the finished result is available instantly and available to email to yourself or anyone else you wish.
"When all of those images are strung together, it has the illusion of movement," summed up the exhibit's curator.
This is a back-to-the-future journey with a starting point as close as Queens.
Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon said he knows firsthand how The Museum of The Moving Image can inspire a young person. He said when his godson Ethan Lazar was a young lad, he and his wife took him there. Today, he's a successful movie producer in Hollywood with credits on 18 features.
To unlock the magic for your family, start here.
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