Slice of Life (Day 30): Making Quidditch Animations

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write all through March, every day, about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

We do all sorts of celebrating for our school’s Quidditch season, which comes to a close TODAY with a day-long tournament for our sixth graders and then a students vs. teachers match this evening. I am tired just thinking about it. But it will be a lot of fun. Noisy fun. Exhausting fun. You get the idea.

Among the many classroom activities surrounding Quidditch, which includes various writing pieces such as diagramming plays and using expository writing to explain the plays, I show my students the basics of stopmotion animation using a site called ParaPara Animation (click the yellow wrench in the bottom right corner to get started). It’s simple to use, and a little quirky and a bit buggy, but the students love it. We had them making animations to celebrate Quidditch, and their teams.

Here are a few:













Peace (catch it),
Kevin

Claymation and the Autistic Filmmaker

TIE claymation session

I attended an interesting presentation a few weeks ago by a colleague in my school district, John Heffernan, who shared out work he had done with one of his elementary students with Autism. Using Claymation Moviemaking and storytelling as the doorway, John helped this student make significant gains with social and emotional awareness of others, as well as becoming more connected to the larger school community.

As John told it, he and the special education teacher noticed that this student showed imagination and creativity one day when John shared some stopmotion software with the class. In fact, the teachers were so intrigued that they designed a year-long project in which John, the technology integration teacher, worked with the student regularly on claymation and stopmotion movies.

While the first films were rather sparse, as time went on, the short films, and then the scripts, began to show more emotional range for the characters in a claymation-filled imaginary world that this student began to create and construct, complete with back-stories and theme music. Audio narration added depth to characters. For a child with Autism, this emotional range represented significant progress, particularly using social cues (such as friendship or sadness) in the development of characters.

Claymation Box

Later, the student presented his collection of stopmotion movies to his peers, calling on other students with questions and listening with some focus to the interactions of his audience. We watched videos of some of the claymation work, as well as observations of the presentation of movies in the classroom.

As John observed, the characteristic of Autistic children with hyper-intensive attention-to-detail helped with making stopmotion movies — the frame-by-frame shooting of footage is difficult, believe me — as did the malleability of clay characters. Plus, this student invented this entire imaginary world in his mind, which he then worked to bring to life, and to an audience, through movie-making.

I was impressed — with the filmmaking by the student and with the way that John and his teaching colleagues took time to notice the high level interest and then built an entire project for this student around claymation, with the higher goals of fostering more social and emotional growth over time. (John also brought stopmotion into the classroom for the peers, too, who were inspired by the work of this student and wanted to do their own.)

My only disappointment? We didn’t make our own claymation movies in the workshop session.

Peace (mold it, film it),
Kevin

App Review: StickNodes

A few weeks ago, for the #CLMOOC DigiWriMo Pop Up Make Cycle, the focus was on animation. There are all sorts of apps that allow you to animate now, and StickNodes is one of my favorites (I paid the $1.99 for the Pro version). It’s an update on an old freeware that I used to use with students called Pivot Animator. When we shifted to Macs, I had to move away from Pivot (it is a PC-only freeware) and tried Stykz for a bit.

StickNodes Pro is pretty easy to use, and has a lot of powerful features for animating stick figures. It’s also pretty darn fun to use. You can create and then export your animation as video or gif files, which can be hosted elsewhere.

Here is one of my early experiments: Stickman Walking. (I had uploaded it into Vine, which you can no longer do)

 

No surprise that there are tutorial videos on YouTube for using the app. Here is the first in a series done by this person.

Give it a try. Or try some other app, and let us know. We’re animating this week!

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

Stopmotion: A Little Nomad’s Christmas Tree

My friend, Sarah Honeychurch, send me a lovely holiday postcard for the CLMOOC Postcard Project, and she included a little traveling knitted “Nomad” with the card (see her online moniker for why that is a perfect name for the little knitted traveler). It was so cute!

My first reaction was how cool it was to get this little gift like this from across the world. My second reaction was that this Nomad is the perfect size for stopmotion animation. My third reaction was, I can finally use this USB Christmas Tree that sits in my closet all year long.

I got to work … eh, play.

Thank you, Sarah, and thank you to everyone else who is part of my various networks. That hug that the Nomad gives the tree at the end is symbolic.

Peace (let it it light the world),
Kevin

 

When #CLMOOC Met #DigiWriMo

(A collage of “grounds” from the Look Down to the Ground Collaboration)

We’re wrapping up two weeks of Pop-Up Make Cycles that the CLMOOC Crowd (past participants who have stepped up to facilitate the Connected Learning MOOC this past year) organized for what used to be Digital Writing Month (but may be no more). We invited people to share photos, annotate and curate on the Web, make and share animations, discuss Digital Writing in a variety of formats, produce inspirational images and messages, and more.

It’s probably not the ideal time of year to hope that many, many people will take the CLMOOC up on the invitation to make, create, share. Still, that’s the beauty of the Pop-Up Make Cycle idea (first launched by Joe Dillon and Terry Elliott, I believe). It comes. It goes. It’s an open invitation.

Two of the pieces I am proud of making:

and

Do I wish more folks participated? Yes. But then I remember something we said early this past summer at all due to a different focus for the National Writing Project, when it seemed that CLMOOC might not happen in 2016.

A few us (participants and past facilitators) chatted and decided: Yes, CLMOOC will indeed happen, and those few soon grew to more than a dozen people who volunteered to become the CLMOOC Crowd (my name for it). We agreed that “small” is perfectly fine. The “M”  in this mooc does not have to be “massive” anymore. It just has to be “meaningful.” So, “minimal” works, too.

And you know .. this is the Open Web. Anyone at anytime can access any of the ideas. You’re invited. You’re always invited.

Peace (and connect),
Kevin

 

#DigiWriMo #CLMOOC: Making Simple Animation with Para Para

 

Here are steps to making and sharing a simple stopmotion animation with Para Para Animation (part of Mozilla’s Webmaker family … I think …) Warning: The site is kind of funky at times and not always completely stable. And I am not sure how well it works on mobile devices. Just warning you. But I have used it with students and they LOVE it for the simplicity and easy entry point. You will, too.

Here is the Para Para Animation Site

Using ParaPara Animation1
Using ParaPara Animation2
Using ParaPara Animation3
Using ParaPara Animation4
Using ParaPara Animation5
Using ParaPara Animation6
Using ParaPara Animation7

Well .. good luck. Share your art out at #clmooc or #digiwrimo or wherever you find yourself.

Peace (framing it one at a time),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life: Making Stopmotion Minecraft Movies

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

Minecraft movies

My son recently got an interesting gift: a Minecraft Stopmotion Movie package. Actually, the box contained the props and then you download the app, and use a mobile device to shoot the stopmotion. He and a friend were working on a short flick this long weekend.

While you could do all this without the package, the backgrounds and plastic bricks and characters make for an easier experience. (Although oddly, the intro and outros are preset to be pretty long … sometimes longer than the movie itself, and I wonder if this is a nod to kids’ fascination with those elements of moviemaking).

They are still working on how to tell a story in stopmotion as opposed to moving characters around just to move characters around … the teacher in me can’t stand the randomness. But I know I need to just let them do what they do, and play and explore.

I’ve shown him how to move the video into iMovie, where he can do more editing and add music, etc, so that is the next real step. He already knows the basics there, so it is a rather seamless transition from filmmaker to editor.

Peace (in the film),
Kevin

A Little Stopmotiony Wagging of the Tail

Dog wag animation

 

(Click on image — or here — to get see animation — I decided to host in Flickr this time)

I was inspired by a very cool video put into the CLMOOC by Jill Dawson, and then even more inspired by her explanation of how she did what she did for the CLMOOC Make Bank, to give some animation a try again. Although Jill used different apps for hers, I decided to get back into Animation Desk, an app I have had for some time. It has been upgraded and has some different parts, so I am still figuring it all out again. There is a free and paid version, and I think I have the paid version from some free trial time period when it came out.

Jill’s Piece: Dog Days of Summer

Jill’s “How To Do This” Piece:

But it was fun … wanna try stopmotion? You can tinker even with any apps with a site called ParaPara Animation.

An example that I made in a few minutes:

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

 

Playing with Animation

My students have had some fun this week (in the time after standardized testing) to make some neat stopmotion animation with  a Mozilla-hosted site called Para Para Animation. It’s simple to use, with none of the bells and whistles of more advanced animation programs. (so, that is both good and limiting).

Check out a few of their creations:

Seasons


Our Quidditch Team Name


Tiger, Jumping


Soccer Goal

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

Playing with the ParaPara Animation Tool

Check this out:

I stumbled into an open source, online animation tool that is simple to use and pretty nifty way to teach animation to kids. ParaPara is a Japanese animation tool that allows for simple animation (and apparently, there is a way to collaborate with others … looking into that feature …) Mozilla’s Webmaker hosts a tutorial on how to use it, with links to the ParaPara site.

Once you make your animation, it kicks out a link and then an embed code, so that you can embed like I did with my Happy Friend animation that I created in just a few minutes.

What are you waiting for? Get making!

Making Animation with ParaPara

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

PS –