Monday, 29 June 2009

Want to animate? Animate!

It all started about 4 years ago with a Digital Blue camera, I loaded the software included with the camera and looked quickly through it. The interface was simple, reasonably versatile and well laid out. I took it home and gave it to my children to play with, the resultant short stop frame animation got me thinking about ways that this medium might fit into my primary class.
I looked at the curriculum and realised that my Art unit - 'People in Action' leant itself to utilising ICT - I introduced the concept of animation using Pivot Stick figure animator A great piece of freeware that highlighted the need for multiple frames and was simple and fun to use. I then gave a very brief demonstration of how to use the Digital Blue to create a stop-frame animation. It was all the children needed and they ran from there. The creativity of backdrops and subject matter were great. Did it meet the Art objectives? Probably not but it opened the door for me on the potential of this to engage and excite children.

The following year I had more time to think about how the animation tool could enhance children's learning. I used literacy as a starting point and got the class to take a well known nursery Rhyme and write a playscript for it. This process in itself was a wonderful exercise in creative literacy as the children made a story from the Rhyme.
The quality of the digital images from the camera were workable and the stop-frame process was simple enough but unfortunately the audio quality appeared to be lacking. The intention therefore was to create a seperate sound track and then marry the two together. To give the animation the depth they needed I had to provide the children with the ability to produce multi-track audio files, this would allow them to include dialogue, music and sound effects - another piece of freeware came to the rescue: Audacity - simple to use and effective it proved to be extremely versatile and allowed multi-layered audio to be created. Once complete the audio and video were put together in Windows Moviemaker.
The whole experience was stimulating and challenging for the children and the end results were pleasing to the children and myself. Problems occured with synchronisation of the two parts when titles and credits were added to the film, a problem that I would address in a later project.

The following year I used our extended narrative, a quest story, as the starting point for our animation. Each pair or group took a chapter from the story and scripted it. Our hero - Alvin (straight out of the £1 shop and one of six that were purchased to ensured continuity of the character throughout our animation) then took his place in the animations and we created a number of scenes. Rather than record audio tracks as seperate entities we then put all the clips together in Moviemaker, added appropriate titles and credits before starting on the sound track. By cascading the Moviemaker window above the Audacity window we were able to synchronise the two with accuracy using their respective timelines. The result is a seven minute Animation, with depth of sound, continuity, a story and humour all created by a class of enthuased and proud 10/11 year old children. Could it be improved? Of course it could, sound levels are erratic, some animation is poor, dialogue lacks expression in places...But nevertheless, an amaazing piece of work that truly animated a class.

Click for a Prezi on the process

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the great review of our software! It's great to see how people use the product on their own. ~ Nikki with Digital Blue @digiblue