The ABC Song in the Gutenberg Museum

ABC Song

♫ A - B - C - D ♫

We’re really happy to share that our “ABC Song” video is now a part of a new exhibition at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany.

From the organizers:

Moving Types” shows a retrospective from of the beginnings of the film to the 21st century, using filmlets, film excerpts, advertising films, video clips and a media facade in the Gutenberg Museum to illustrate historical and contemporary examples in which letters play the main role.The Centerpiece of the exhibition is an open media lounge in which a panorama of outstanding examples of “MovingTypeface” is shown. Works of international artists, filmmakers and designers like Marcel Duchamp, László Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Fischinger, George Lucas, Kyle Cooper and Alex Gopher as well as opening credits from films like Matrix and James Bond are going to be on display. Interviews with renowned and style-defining designers complete the examples.

Pretty cool for a little song and video that were recorded and filmed in one of the classrooms at the school we were teaching at!

Check it out for yourself:

Our version of the ABC Song was originally created to make sure that young students could hear each letter clearly. We had found that traditional versions of the song were often too fast, and young learners could not distinguish all the letters (for example, they hear elemenopee instead of L-M-N-O-P, or Y N Z instead of Y and Z). We also wanted an ABC Song that was slow enough for young learners to be able to point at the letters (in their ABC books, on a poster, etc.) as they sing along. It turned out to be a big hit with our students and found its way on to our first CD, Super Simple Songs.

When we started making videos for YouTube, it made sense to further develop the audio-visual connection between the song and the letters. The goal of the project was to present the English alphabet in the simplest way possible, so that each letter could be learned and recognized by young learners. As teachers, we often talk about ways to make the language come alive for our students… here was a way to do it (symbolically at least).

The conceptual idea as developed and put into practice by Jeremy Chapman was to have the letters of the alphabet appear on the screen, one by one, as the song introduced each letter. He wanted the letters to appear as if they were moving on their own, but did not want to just use computer animation; we wanted it to feel real. Our students were very familiar with the magnetic letters on the whiteboard so seeing them come to life was exciting and something that had relevance in their lives. Also, Jeremy wanted to give the letters some personality, as though they were a large family of siblings, or old friends.

After a few practice runs to develop the choreography, the video was created by carefully moving each letter just a little bit and taking a picture (with the iSight camera on a MacBook) after each move. All together, it took about 650 photos. Jeremy spent the day in one of the classrooms at school making the video, and you can actually see the light from the window change throughout the day, which gave the video a flickering effect that we think adds to it’s charm.

If you happen to be near Mainz, Germany anytime from now until next April, please pop into the Gutenberg Museum and check out the Moving Types exhibit. If you can’t make it to Germany, you can always catch the ABC Song on YouTube. What’s your favorite part?