Claymation Movies: On the theme of Tolerance

Most of my claymation groups rushed to complete their movie projects yesterday. I wish they didn’t feel so rushed but the school year ends in a few days and those days are jammed with activities. The task before the students: create a claymation movie around the theme of tolerance (related to our literature readings of Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry and Watsons Go to Birmingham).

A few of the groups really got it while some others … not so much. A few of the groups of boys got so into using clay that they lost track of their story idea, and so the movies were more slapstick comedy than development of story. Claymation can really engage students, but it can be difficult to keep some of them on track. Plus, claymation requires the art of patience, which is difficult at the end of the school year to maintain.

But here are a few of the movies to share out (maybe more next week):

Peace (in the little people),

The World of Longfellow 10

I was adding some of our digital science picture books to the Longfellow 10 site this morning when I realized what an accomplishment that site has achieved over the course of the year. The Longfellow 10 is (as George writes at the site) a: “… loose confederation of unknown students in undisclosed locations in cyberspace looking to promote awareness of important literary terms (and Science Concepts!) through absurd stop-motion films.” And more.

My students are now launching into a final project in literature class. We divided the class into two and one group read The Watsons Go to Birmingham and the other read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Both books are powerful examples of racial tension and the need for tolerance. SO, with just a few short weeks left, we are doing a claymation project around the theme of tolerance. Our aim is to publish the movies at Longfellow 10 before school gets out. I’m not sure we can make it, but we’re going to give it a try. They were storyboarding yesterday and will begin making clay characters today and maybe start filming tomorrow. We’re on a tight schedule!

I’ll reflect more as we go.

But check out the movies at Longfellow 10 and share them with your students. This is a list of subject categories from the site. And think about bringing stopmotion into your classroom:

Peace (in the frames).

The Writers going Undercover

This is the second in my series of using Writer figurines for stopmotion movies (see post about the first movie). In this one, they are about to head out on an adventure with the National Writing Project. The little writing dudes (and dudette) are being shipped to various NWP sites over the summer as a “spy mission” to learn more about the work of the NWP’s Summer Institutes and they will be reporting back via a blog.
President Obama is also in this one, and I am sure he is proud to be involved (hahaha)

Peace (in movies),

Home Movies: The Squop

I blogged a few weeks about the movie that my son was making. Well, I helped him finish it this weekend and it is a hoot. It is all about an imaginary creature called The Squop that first allegedly eats our cat and then our youngest son. He even wrote lyrics to a song based on We Three Kings for his cast of animated Pea Detectives that we all sang.

Meanwhile, we decided to set up a blog for him to showcase the movies he has been making. Check out Crazy Cartoonz.

Peace (on video),

(video) Slice of Life: in the movies

(This is part of the Slice of Life project)

My oldest son had grand ambitions this week to make a movie that combines live action with stop-motion animation. The concept involves a monster that has eaten our cat and then our youngest son and requires the help of a group of characters he has invented — the Pea Detectives. Somehow, he talked me into having a main role in it (OK, so I was happy to do it) and he is using one of my Flip video cameras to shoot the live footage and then using stopmotion software to shoot the Peas in action. Later, he will use Moviemaker to edit it all together.

He really wanted to know how you layer in animation on top of live action and I said, “With millions of dollars worth of equipment that we don’t have.” But if you know a way to do it on the cheap, let me know, please. So, his work-around (love work-arounds) was to take some photos of me and then print them, cut them out and use them in the stopmotion sequence. He’s also been composing some soundtrack music with SuperDuperMusicLooper and even wrote a song with lyrics (to the melody of We Three Kings of Orient Are) about the group of bumbling Pea detectives.

It’s fascinating to watch his mind working on it all and how excited he is about the project. I told him about a local Youth Film Festival that he should consider entering a film in this year. He seemed intrigued by that.

Here, then, is a glimpse of a stopmotion sequence in which I meet the Peas, with his Looper music. In the movie, this is where his original song will go, but it was more entertaining to have it as a sort of nusic video for now.

Peace (with the popcorn),

Slice of Life: The Writers!

(This is part of the Slice of Life project)

I finally found some time yesterday morning to begin creating a stop-motion movie series using some little Writer figures that I got in the mail a few weeks ago. It’s a collection of writers — Shakespeare, Woolf, Poe, etc — and they are the perfect size for stop-motion movies.

I spent about 90 minutes on it — I can get things started pretty fast these days — from start to finish, so it is a bit rough-edged. But I liked the concept of these writers finding the XO computer and watching it write for them.

So, here, I present: The Writers!

Peace (in movies),

A View from Above: Making a Movie

This holiday break, my sons and I did some stop-motion moviemaking of our own. My oldest made a movie called Shovel Trouble that we burned onto DVD and then he presented it as gift to all of our family members. It was very cute. He wants to set up his own movie website, so I will hold off on sharing it for now. But, what we did was set up a webcam above a workspace, and then he draw and cut out characters, moving them one frame at time. It was a little tricky getting it set up (I had to use an old music stand to hold the camera), but once we got it in place, it worked like a charm.

Here is what our setup looked like (and if you go to the Flickr site, you can see my notes as overlays on the photo itself — more details about what we were doing).

At one point, as my son was doing some drawing, I started to make the webcam take frames — like a time-lapse camera. It was very cool. And then my youngest decided that he wanted to do the same thing, so he made a snowman. Here is a very quick documentary.


Peace (in movies),

Making StopMotion, the easy way

Thanks to Matt, I found a great resource for Stop-Motion movie creation. Included in the site was a link to this video, which shows how you can use MovieMaker (part of the Windows operating system) to create stop-motion movies (with just a digital camera).

Why am I sharing this? Well, George Mayo and I have been developing the Longfellow 10 site for stop-motion movies for students and we really would love to have some other schools involved. Are you interested? Do you need a mentor? George and I can help (drop me an email at dogtrax(at)gmail(dot)com if you want). There are great learning opportunities for your students when they plan, film, edit and produce their own movies.

This short video walks you through the steps for a basic movie process:

And this link brings you to a more advanced tutorial that is well worth the watching. Finally, this is the original link that Matt sent me, which has 50 stop motion movies that will boggle yer mind.

Peace (in frames),

Happy Stopmotion Holidaze

In between some creative sessions in which my sons were creating stop-motion movies, I grabbed a moment to make my own holiday short. It’s called “All I Want is a Saxophone” and I grabbed an ornament off our Christmas tree for a prop.

Happy Holidays to all of my readers and may you find peace and love with your family and friends.

(if you are having trouble viewing this video, you most likely need to upgrade your Shockwave software. You can do that by going here.)
Peace (in the season),