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Archive for June, 2011

Here are a few of the videos that students made in our recent stop motion class. These are great examples of what student can come up with when they are given the time and encouragement to work on a project of their choice.

 

 

 

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Here are several of the videos I used last week as examples of study for the students in the stop motion animation class. Giving examples can be tricky because, oftentimes, students want to emulate what they have seen, which isn’t a bad thing if making a copy is reasonable. I tried to pick videos that covered a broad range of techniques and technical skill. These seemed to give the students a good idea of what they were supposed to do and what could be possible with a little imagination and bunch of hard work.

1. Her Morning Elegance

This video has some great effects in it. The video was made using 2096 pictures, a fact that stretched the minds of the students. I think that this really shows what can be done with stop motion. Like I explained to the students, this is really something they could all do with enough patience. The creators didn’t use anything that each student doesn’t have in their own bedroom.

2. Dot.

This is just a fun example because it is so amazing. I like how the camera used is shown at the end. This puts the whole film into perspective. There were lots of “ooohs” and “awwwws” from the class at the end of this one.

3.  Human Skateboard

The boys in the class loved this one. Who wouldn’t? The facial expressions alone make this a cool video.

4. Living Clay

This video shows something that the students could actually do quite easily. A ball of clay and a few random objects from around the house. With this example, the students really started to see what they could accomplish in the class. It opened their minds.

5. Game Over

The students loved this video. I was surprised to find that many of the students have played these video games, so they could see how the creators (PES) took an idea and recreated it using stop motion animation. PES makes a bunch of really good stop motion videos. Make sure to check out more examples from them on their Youtube channel.

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There is one hint that will make a huge difference when making stop motion animations with students. When I first made a stop motion, I went in and altered the length of each picture individually. This took forever. I am guessing that several others have done the same thing.

There is a way to change the default length that pictures play before they are placed on the timeline. Here are the steps:

1. In Movie Maker, click on “Tools”.

2. Click on “Options” under “Tools”.

3. Click on the “Advanced” tab.

4. Next to “Picture duration,” use the arrows to move the duration to “0.25”.

5. Click “OK” at the bottom of the window.

Now, when pictures are dragged down to the timeline, they will be set to run at 4 pictures per second instead of the 5 seconds per picture, which is the normal default for Movie Maker. This will make the whole stop motion animation process much easier.

Remember: The next time you use Movie Maker, this will still be the setting for pictures, so if you want them to run longer, you will have to go in again and change the settings.

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Today was the first day of the stop motion video class that I am teaching for the next week. Students, ranging in ages from 9-12 will, by the end of the week, produce their own stop motion animation short film.

Class today consisted of trying to get students to understand the concept of stop motion animation. The funnest thing that we did today, and the most successful, was a short demonstration on how it all works.

I would suggest doing this with any class that needs to know how to make stop motion animation work.

Step 1: Get a package of cookies.

Step 2: Set up the camera.

Step 3: Have the students eat the cookies one at a time.

Step 4: Put the pictures into Movie Maker and show the students the result of their work.

After doing this, the students really understood how the process worked and were able to start making plans for their own movies.

 

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Here are a few questions that I have been thinking about this morning. Answer them honestly, especially the one about a bin full of cassette tapes.

Do you use a portable CD Player?

Do you buy CD’s at the store?

Do you get excited when you see a bargain bin full of cassette tapes?

Do you still own 8-Track tapes and better yet, an 8-Track player?

Is your main source of music the local radio station?

Is your main source of evening entertainment the television?

Do you wait all week for Thursday night so you can watch your favorite show?

Is the majority of the time spent on your mobile phone spent talking?

Cassettesphoto © 2010 Christopher Najewicz | more info (via: Wylio)I am guessing that most teachers will answer yes to many, if not most, of these questions.

The times have changed. Music is easily and readily available online, as are most television shows, and when it comes to phones for teens, they might as well not have the option for speaking with someone; texting the way to communicate.

What does this mean for teachers? What does this mean for education? What does it mean for you?

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When doing any project in the classroom, there is a tendency for most teachers to set up a system where they control the end product. This isn’t limited to movies or even tech projects. In general, teachers who teach all subjects and all grade levels are guilty. We want our students to be creative but then overload the assignment with rubrics and grading sheets that pretty much show the students exactly what is expected by the teacher.

I am not saying that rubrics or grading sheets are bad.

They certainly are needed, but it is important to make sure that they assess the standards being learned by the students. The grading criteria should not guide students in every point, especially those areas where students might have some license to be creative.

Here’s a few things to think of the next time you plan a project where students can be creative (which hopefully is happening on a regular basis in your classroom 🙂 :

1. What is the purpose of the activity? Make sure there is a way to assess the standards being learned, and leave the rest of the project up to the students.

2. Have a few examples. A few examples are great to give students an idea of what to do, but don’t give away too much. Students need to come up with some of their work on their own.

3. Make rubrics simple. Long complicated rubrics tend to show the students everything and leave nothing for the imagination. My rule is 4 or maybe 5 different assessment columns, and that is it.

4. Have  student help come up with assignments. This will allow the students to stretch their minds as they work with the teacher to create assignments that show what they have learned.

5. Have some fun! Learning needs to be serious, but it can also be fun. Too many times, students go through the motions of a project and do what they have to to get the grade. Craft projects that are highly engaging, and the students will always have a good time learning.

 

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Maybe being a Youtube sensation doesn’t have much appeal for you, but for most students, having a good Youtube video is as exciting as being on TV. This coming week, I am preparing for a week long summer class where I will be teaching students to make videos which will then be posted on Youtube.

One of the exciting things about this project is that all the videos are going to be stop motion animation. This is a great way to introduce students to video work because they have total control over what is happening in the movie. I have tried other video projects, and they have been successful to a point. However, it is hard to get a group to work together at times, and this isn’t a problem with stop animation. There isn’t going to be a person in the group who starts giggling and can’t get through the lines. The actors won’t start messing around because they will be inanimate objects. The director will have full control over the end product.

As I prepare for the class next week, I plan on sharing some of the resources that I am going to use as well as other ideas and plans that I come up with for the class.

I thought I would start today by sharing a good example of stop motion animation to get the creative juices flowing. If you like this video, check out the others these guys make. They are all pretty cool.

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