“The Shrink Ray”, by students Alex Nolan, Riley Miller, Grace Madland, Matt Coopersmith, and Nathan Hunter, is a four-minute odyssey about four students (played by Alex, Riley, Matt, and Grace) who are shrunk by an evil classmate (Nathan) and must navigate the perils presented by the Stage Room in an attempt to escape his evil plot. Over the course of the adventure, they outrun the villain’s stomping shoe, scale a shelf, and fly a remote control helicopter to find Kathy and ask for her help. Grace even has a fight scene, in which she fences with a rat intent on eating the minuscule friends.
The video became extremely popular, “going viral” on June 29th, 2011. That’s when a video accumulates a lot of views, very quickly, usually because viewers send the video to each other via email. As more and more viewers do so, the views increase exponentially before settling to a lower, but often still hefty, viewership.
How “The Shrink Ray” reached fame is unknown–it’s likely that “Youtubers” first found it after accessing another video with similar “tags”, or keywords. One student has suggested that it may have been reviewed by a well-known Youtube vlogger.
The students who worked on “The Shrink Ray” haven’t let fame affect them. Grace, who was a senior when she made the movie, is now a sophomore at Gettysburg college. Nathan, the story’s villain, is a freshman at Whitworth College. Alex and Riley will graduate from Hillside this year, both leaving a legacy of claymations like “The Shrink Ray”; Alex is particularly well known for “Dragonprince”, Riley for “Don’t Litter: It’s a Crime”. Matt is in his junior year at Hillside and is also continuing his claymation career. This year he is working on a retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood”.
Alex Nolan started the Hillside Animation Club Youtube Channel in April, 2011. The plan was to have a single place where some of Hillside’s best animations could be viewed, both for the benefit of students wishing to share their work with others and for that of prospective students and their families trying to learn more about the wonderful creative programs that Hillside offers. It currently holds sixteen of Hillside’s greatest hits, from personal projects such as “Winter” and “The Baby” (by student Flora Whiting and alumnus Noel Sherrard respectively) to group projects and “pixillations” such as “The Mad Scientist”. Since its creation, the site has garnered almost 12,518 views. It’s an astonishing feat, especially given that 11,857 of those views belong to one video.
To learn more about the history of animation at Hillside, click here.