A Scanimation Picture Book
by Rufus Butler Seder
Workman Publishing Company 2008
One of the most inventive ideas to come along in quite some time, SWING! is a cross between animation and picture books. With a simple turn of the page, we see a batter really swing, a soccer player actually kicking a ball and an ice skater truly spinning. Rufus Butler Seder's scanimation technique creates movement on a static page. He combines this magical technique with spare text and lots of onomatopoeia - quite appropriate for a book about movement: whom! whoosh! whack! can you swing a baseball bat?
The scanimation illustrations are in black and white, but the large text is bold and colorful. To add more eye-appeal, the edges of each spread are bound by blocks of jewel tone colors.
Curious to know the secret of Seder's ingenious scanimation, I dissected a page. Every spread is constructed of several layers, similar to a pop-up book might be. The movement is created by a single drawing that incorporates each segment of the action superimposed on top of one another. The drawing is broken up by vertical lines. A sheet of acetate with thick, black vertical lines is laid over the drawing and attached across the top and bottom on a different layer. When the page is turned, the drawing stays stationary as the acetate "scans" across the drawing. The small spaces between the black vertical lines of the acetate reveal one part of the drawing at a time. The eye blends the images and creates movement, in much the same way as a flip book. But each page of SWING! self-contains the entire "flip."
Seder's previous scanimation book, GALLOP!, is a number one New York Times bestseller. GALLOP! shows various animals in motion, including a horse galloping and an eagle flying.
I give Seder's books two thumbs up for inventiveness, enjoyment and just pure fun! – J.W.