Bringing Mr. Clay to Life

One different activity I am bringing to Claymation Summer Camp this coming week (ack! So soon!) is to give students a lump of clay and use stopmotion to bring it to life. (I used to use my sons’ toys and create a short movie with those, but I want to get them working with clay quicker). The idea is to use frames to watch a piece of clay “become” something.

As usual, I decided to do the activity myself and this is what I came up with:

Peace (in the frames),

The Making of Frog and Toad, explained

I’ve often heard of this little documentary around the making of Frog and Toad claymation/stopmotion movie but I often turn to a DVD extra with Wallace and Gromit to show students a look behind the scenes of stopmotion moviemaking. But I found this movie on Vimeo by John Matthews from the 1980s and it is pretty cool.

Next week, during my claymation summer camp, I may show this neat documentary and then show the WallaceGromit one to demonstrate just how far moviemaking has come in just a few years. (and now, kids can do it themselves for very little cost, on a smaller scale). It is pretty amazing how much some things have changed (the software and ease of filming) and how much some things have NOT changed (making the claymation characters act).

Frog and Toad – Behind the Scenes from John Clark Matthews on Vimeo.

Peace (with frog and toad),

Trying out Movie Animation App on iTouch

My son and I created this on my iTouch with an app called Flipbook. It’s very cool and pretty easy to use. You can then send the video from the mobile device to the Flipbook website, but I wanted to embed it so I moved it over to Flickr.

Peace (in love),

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),