Friday, 16 July 2010

Romeo & Juliet

A new job (head of ICT at a special school for children aged 6 - 16) and a multitude of things to do managed to slow down the use of animation in my classes. I did achieve some pivot with the year 4's and 5's but the creation of a stop frame was thwarted by hardware issues. With the server allowing the software to be fully operational I started looking for a focus. Year 9 were covering Romeo and Juliet in English and it seemed like an ideal project for a collaborative animation. Having already extolled the virtues of Zu3D in a previous post 'Cube Life' it was time to use the software. As in previous animations the planning stage allowed us to break the play into manageable lumps for the students to work on.
  • Storyboards - The storyboarding process was completed using a Publisher template, their choice of backdrops in each frame and screen beans to indicate character requirements and add speech bubbles. All the students used a range of IT skills to manipulate and scale the characters in their storyboards at the same time reinforcing their English skills in the analysis of the scenes and how they could translate to an animation.
  • Characters - We decided to use lego characters for the animation, Whilst the range of movement is limiting, it allowed continuity of characters within the various scenes being shot. The main characters were give an 'R' and a 'J' to distinguish them.
  • Backdrops - Students chose their backdrops, downloaded them and printed onto A4 card. Care was taken to try and maintain scale in background selection.
  • Animation - The animation process was made easy by the functionality and simplicity of the Zu3D software. This is not an advert for the software so will not repeat my opinions from my previous post. Zu3D works, and works well. The interface is user friendly and has all the features you would expect in animation software.
  • Editing - The inital problem I met was when we came to tie the whole project together. The students had animated in pairs and we had 10 seperate animations, my version of the software did not allow me to export then import the seperate pieces. I contacted David Henley at Zulogic with my problem, he immediately sent me a link for the latest Beta version of the software that solved this problem. Adding titles, sound effects and music were completed as a class group with discussion and collaboration about the suitability of the choices made. Finally dialogue was added to the project.
The finished animation can be viewed on the Zu3D websit gallery - Romeo & Juliet , take a minute to check it out, leave a comment for the students if you can. I know they would appreciate it.

On reflection the animation itself could be smoother, there could be more dialogue and I wonder if lego characters allowed the scope of movement and looks for the story. This being said, the project gave a number of positives:
  • The collaboration between the children was amazing, considering the range of needs within the class. They worked in pairs to animate, discussed and assisted their peers throughout and worked with animation yet acceptance during whole class discussion.
  • The pride the class have in the finished product has definitely raised their self esteem.
  • There knowledge and grasp of Romeo & Juliet is definitely secure.
  • A range of IT skills were utilised throughout the creation of the animation.
I am sure that William Shakespeare would be impressed in this adaptation of his famous work!!!

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