My two older sons (ages 8 and 6) were so enthralled with my StopMotion experiments with Thelonius and the short movies that I made that they pressured me to let them produced their own movies, too. And who am I to resist that kind of pressure?
First, they made a short film about a mouse who gets chased by some creatures (including an owl who slowly emerges from a hole in a paper tree — first the beak, then the eyes, and then the head). Then, they decided to create a second movie in which the stars of the first movie get interviewed by reporters, only to find that a thief has stolen all of their money right from under their noses.
My only roles in these projects were to run the computer and help with the voices. The boys did everything else, and the older one is now (with no push from me) creating his own style of storyboard for the next few chapters of the story and he was hard at work on the writing right up until bedtime last night. (One interesting aside: one of the characters fell over during a sequence but only for a frame or two, and it led us to a discussion about “subliminal” images in movies because the three of us can see the flicker where the fall happened but it zooms by so fast that no one else would likely catch it).
Should I mention how exciting it is for me, as a dad and a teacher and a writer, to see my kids so involved in something so creative?
Here, then, is the premiere of Mouse Chase and Movie Star Friends:
Peace (one frame at a time),
Winter break is almost over and so I made one last StopMotion movie experiment with my character, Thelonius, in which he is transformed from strange-looking puppet into bizarre-looking clay figure (go figure).
Along the way, I thought about some things to think about for using StopMotion in the classroom:
- Lighting is key. I need to find a way to have consistent lighting for my students because it really effects the entire piece when lighting goes astray. I had shadows all over the place and I never really found a good set-up for the movies.
- Plan out the project. I had a pretty good conceptual idea for what I was doing but I can see that we will need pretty extensive planning. Storyboarding will be even more important with stopmotion animation.
- Be careful with your fingers. I lost an entire movie because I accidentally saved it some wrong way. Students would lose all of their patience if they lost an hour’s worth of work. I just started over again (cursing all the time).
- I think clay figures will need some internal support — wooden armetures (is that the phrase) to provide support, so that when kids move their characters around, they won’t crumble. I am using a mannequin body but the weight of the clay is tipping Thelonius over and so I need to revisit my clay structure.
- The question of how to sync narration with the video is vexing and one I will have to think about. That will take some practice. I used a mix of audio, music and text — just to see which one might work, and I am not sure of the results.
- Movement of character is slow but cool to watch when done. You really have to take it one step/one motion at a time. If you rush the movement, it shows in the movie. When I was slow and deliberate, it made all the difference in the world.
- A good site for insights into this process was put together by a friend, Glen, out in Oregon. Here is his site.
And now, for Thelonius Tranformed:
Peace (in slo-mo),
This another entry into my stopmotion animation adventure — I bought this little stick figure with intentions to turn my Thelonius puppet into a clay figure (still working that out) and decided to get the little guy movin’ to an old song of mine called “Dance Hall Fool.”
Peace (through dance),
I am once again on the road of experimentation — this time with StopMotion Animation. Every year, I do a claymation movie project with my sixth graders but to call it “claymation” is not quite accurate. They take single digital photos, add narration, and use MovieMaker to edit and produce short movies (in collaboration with second graders). Here is a link to last year’s collection of movies.
But this year, I want to try real stop-motion animation with them and my friend, Tonya, showed me some free software this summer at the National Writing Project’s Tech Matters seminar that I only now got around to downloading and checking out. (Here is a link to the wonderful site that has the software and a load of other resources for animation projects)
If I want my students to do something, I guess I better try it myself and figure it all out from the ground level (a mantra of mine — do it yourself! do it yourself! do it yourself!) So here is a character I created called Thelonius — he’s a puppet because I didn’t have any clay around the house and Thelonius is trying out a saxophone.
I hope to make a Thelonius clay figure and set him off on some small adventures with stopmotion animation.
Peace (with animation),
PS — the music is by my old band, Big Daddy Kiljoy, and that’s me on the saxophone!
The other day, I suddenly realized that I had broken the surface on my 200th post for this Weblog endeavor.
I began this Blog back in the summer as an experiment to enter the world of writing from another doorway, as I had been writing poetry, songs and fiction on my own and getting some of it published in little corners of the world periodically.
I named this site Kevin’s Meandering Mind because I didn’t want to just focus on the art of writing, nor the art of teaching, but I wanted it to be a place where I could exist in words, sounds and images (and now video, too) and I think it has been quite a lot of fun and quite a lot of learning going on here.
I want to give great thanks to Jim Farmer and this Edublogs network. It has had its hiccups since I joined the community, but overall, the work here to provide free and creative blog structure to teachers has been wonderful.
So, if you are reading this, thanks for your time and help me celebrate by blowing out the candles on the cake. (ready? one, two three … whoooosh).
Peace (with posts),
This is another in my installment of poems, with the aim of writing and publishing at least one original poem every month for a year. It turns out I am on track to do two poems every month for the year but I refuse to change my moniker now!
The Mind, Alive (December 2006)
Listen to the poem
when all should be in darkness,
I am bathed in light;
words in my mind turning corners
and wondering all the time whether this, too, shall lead me
further beyond myself.
It’s the small things;
The words not spoken, the look not given,
the missing embers lost among the light of these anxious moments
into which I offer nothing more than some token passive resistance
to the inevitable.
And yet, who is to say …
Nothing is certain at 2 a.m. with the lights turned off —
when dim silence is comforted only by thoughtful interrogation
precariously balanced between madness and meaning.
Outside, the rain falls
and thunder calls from a far-off distance
Not something wicked this way coming
Not something I cannot see
But, rather, the anticipated movement of time itself
into which I draw comfort
Kevin (the poet)
I made it a bit of a mission this year to investigate the possibilities of integrating audio and video into my web presence, both for personal use and for educational use, and it has been quite a learning-curve journey with many more miles to go, I suppose.
This morning, however, I came upon Wired News feature The Year in Online Video and I assume this is probably the first time that this category has been created and used for such a feature (I may be wrong, but I don’t think so). In the article, which has embedded video right in it, there were some cool clips, such as:
- Real Life introduction to The Simpsons
- The Mentos versus Diet Coke experiment
- OK Go and their funny sync-dance music video (on treadmills)
But what is most fascinating to me, I think, are the two videos where people took photographs of themselves every day for a period of time (in one case, a year, and in the other case, six years) and then pulled them all together into a video. The effect is quite fascinating.
Video has many possibilities, some of which we can’t quite yet see.
Peace (and good year ahead),
Thanks to Paul O. for recommending this very cool graphic book called Radio: An Illustrated Guide by Jessica Abel and Ira Glass. The book chronicles the experience of creating a radio show for This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass. The graphic novel is perfect for this venture, I think, because it shows you different nuances of how a radio story comes together over the course of many weeks, from one idea to an emerging theme.
For anyone interested in getting a look behind the scenes of a thoughtful and frenetic radio program, this book is for you.
I stumbled upon the Teaching Hacks Weblog this morning (via the so-called Top 100 Education Blogs list from something called Online Education Database) and there is a free resource at Teaching Hacks for teachers wanting to integrate such Web 2.0 tools as RSS feeds, tagging, social networking, etc, into their toolbox. The booklet seems like a nice companion to Will Richardson’s book (Weblogs, Wikis, Podcasts, etc).
Check out the PDF file called Web 2.0 for Educators by Quentin D’Souza
The winners of the 2006 Edublogs Awards were announced this week and although TeachingTeachingTeachers (one of my favorite group sites) didn’t win, the range of sites across the board. And the organizers did post the voting breakdown, if you are interested in seeing that information.
Meanwhile, if you are just starting up an RSS aggregator, this is a good place to begin to create your own Blog community. Click through the various links and add the sites to your aggregator. You will be inspired, entertained and educated.
Head to Edublog Awards 2006
Peace (with RSS),