Making a TED-Ed Lesson: Bringing a pop-up book to life

In this short video,
we’re going to show you how we constructed and animated a pop-up book
to explain Earth’s tectonic plates. The supercontinent Pangaea
broke apart 200,000,000 years ago, but the pieces haven’t stopped shifting. Although with animation we can show
this movement easily with drawings, we thought it’d be more interesting
to depict gigantic sliding slabs of rock using a tangible object
that also moves and shifts. and the pop-up book idea was born. (music) To make your own pop-up book,
you’ll need some basic paper tools, such as scissors, an X-Acto knife, glue,
double-sided Scotch tape, a ruler, a bone folder or other creasing tool,
and, of course, some paper. For this lesson,
we first determined the visual style by making illustrations and
deciding on the overall design, colors, shapes and elements
we wanted on each page, or spread. You can have more detailed illustrations,
but we wanted to illustrate this lesson simply by playing with shapes and colors. When you visualize your pop-up
and choose a visual style, you will want to make a bunch of
good old pencil sketches on paper and plan each movement for each spread. Plan as much as you can: all the basic shapes and how they connect
and how you want them to move, which parts you want to pop-up first. Challenge yourself, and explore multiple possibilities of how your
main element on the spread can pop up. For the next step,
make a mock-up spread and see if your masterful
paper engineering ideas translate from a sketch
to the actual prototype. Instead of using fancy paper,
start with the cheap stuff and allow yourself to make
mistakes and adjustments. This prototype lets you see
how your preliminary sketches will come to life. You will want to first draw
all individual parts on a single sheet, including all your main pieces,
all the supporting pieces and the folds. You may be surprised
that there are only two types of folds that can make your elements pop up
the way you want: a step fold and a V-fold. Here, you can see how we
used a step fold to make each layer
of the Earth step out. Then, cut all your individual elements
and assemble using glue or double-sided Scotch tape. (Music) Through trial and error,
make sure that all the elements, shapes and placements
are moving the way you imagined, and that they fold properly
when closed and opened. (Music) Once your prototype is tested
and complete, you can proceed to making the final
product in color. Draw or paint on your main pop-up
elements as you see fit. For this lesson, we decided to just play with simple shapes
in different colors to create the world of shifting
continents we imagined. (Music) When we were planning each spread,
we knew we wanted some elements to move independently
of the typical pop-up book using slight manipulations and animations. We had to plan well,
but also use a few tricks. As always, when you’re making
stop-motion, you may have to be creative and
use all sorts of unusual tools and props to achieve the effect that you want. In this shot, the birds had to fly
across and off the edge of the book, so we used Fun-Tak to move
the clouds across the page. Once they left the page,
they had to be trimmed to get the illusion they flew off. When the pages of the book
close at the end, we had to flip each page,
supporting it in each position long enough to be photographed
as an individual frame. We used binder clips,
wedges, Fun-Tak, and almost every handy
little thing you can think of. Once all the individual frames
were photographed, we put them all together
and composited to make our pop-up book
look like it’s moving on its own. So now, think of a special occasion where you can surprise someone
with your own unique pop-up card, or an entire story that you want to tell, and start plotting the ins and outs
of your pop-up book.

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