Get Animated!

Using early home computers from the 1980s, our Pixel Graphics & Animation workshops will give an introduction to computer programming. By using these simple (by modern standards) machines, users feel more in direct control over what the computer is doing.

Our workshops are split into two parts and can be booked separately or as a complete package.

Workshop #1 – Pixel Graphics & Animation

Starting with a brief background of the BBC Micro and the part it played in British and world computing history, we explain its direct lineage to the modern smartphone.

Creating graphics for the programs requires the use of binary arithmetic (no prior knowledge of binary is required). Using graph paper to design and draw out the sprite characters, we then add up the bit patterns for entering into the programs. Participants then get hands-on as they try some simple commands to create, edit and debug a BASIC program to animate their design. This will include an introduction to variables, how to make choices, and how to repeat actions.

After gaining an appreciation of what is really going on under the flashy user interfaces of modern systems. They will be given links to online resources to continue exploring further with programming if they have been bitten by the bug!

Workshop #2 – Arcade game customisation

We enable participants to gain an even deeper understanding of coding concepts – such as the importance of procedural programming – by allowing them to customise existing arcade games with graphics that they design and program themselves.

The example below on the left shows a skeleton version of a classic “Blitz”-type game, with simple block graphics and no sound or colour; whilst the version opposite shows the same game but with user-defined sprites and featuring colour and sound effects.

Despite the simplistic nature of the games, participants will play their masterpieces over and over – which truly underlines the level of pride and satisfaction they take in seeing their sketches come to life in the form of a computer game they’ve themed themselves.