Time Lapse Art (Prep)

The objective for this project was quite simple. Draw a picture and film it. More specifically, it was for the students to draw a picture of their favourite season and have a partner film it using the Time Lapse feature from the iPad camera app. This tied in perfectly with their unit on seasons.

The skills, in terms of video, that the students were learned were based on constantly checking and critiquing the film as it was being shot. That’s a complicated way of saying that the students doing the filming are watching and adjusting as needed.

So, the way I had it set up was that the students who were drawing were sitting at a single desk. Next to them was an iPad attached to a tripod. The tripod was angled down to the desk so that the whole (A3) paper was in the frame. Students who were drawing had a bunch of coloured pencils each, had to decide what season to draw, and then got to it. Students doing the filming would watch the drawing on the iPad and carefully adjust the sheet if the illustrator accidentally moved it out of frame. They also kept an eye out for heads being in shot and gently indicating to the illustrator to move back.

When the picture was finished, the two students swapped roles, and we began again.

The results were actually extremely good for something that conceptually was extremely simple. The students, when sharing their videos, were amazed at how their drawings came to life so quickly.

Here are a couple of my favourites as examples:

This was the last of the projects I did with the Preps. I will reflect on the Prep curriculum during the summer break.

iMovie Trailers (Gr 1-2)

I have a love/hate relationship with the Apple iMovie app that you can get for the iPad. I love it because it is an awesome easy to use, super fun app. It can make video projects look beautiful and professional with hardly any effort.

And I hate it for exactly the same reason – it can make video projects look beautiful and professional with hardly any effort. In other words, it doesn’t really teach you anything. It does all the hard work for you.

So when the Gr 4s asked me this term if they were going to use iMovie for their projects I said no. And why? Because I want them to learn real-world video editing. I want them to learn different cutting techniques, and styles of titles, and audio editing.

Now, in my mind, letting the Gr 1-2s use iMovie – that’s fine. They’re not ready to jump on a computer and learn about layers and transitions. They just want something fun that looks good that engages them. And iMovie fits the bill perfectly.

So the project was to use one of the iMovie templates (in our case, we used “Family”) to create a fun looking trailer. Of course, this started with a discussion of what a trailer is and why we have them. One particularly bright student said a trailer was a persuasive text. I wanted to hug her. But I didn’t. I like my job too much. 😉

This project took 2 sessions to explain the app and give enough time for them to film little silly clips to put together as a trailer.

Here’s a video where I explain the lesson:

And here is an example.



Colour Movies (Prep)

The idea for this actually came out of a course I did over at the Adobe Education Exchange. if you don’t know about the Adobe Education Exchange, hop on over after you finish reading this – it’s an amazing repository of lesson plans, resources and free courses you can take for all matter of Adobe tools and topics. This course was on Digital Creativity, and the idea is very simple. Choose a colour and go around filming short clips of places in your environment that are predominately that colour.

I thought this was ideal for the little guys who are learning how to make movies for the first time. I assigned every student a colour in their group and sent them out with an iPad to film short 4 second clips of objects with that colour. I made a note of which group had which iPad. This is where it helps to have numbered iPads!

Between that session and the next, I created a project for them using the fantastic Adobe Premiere Clip app. Since I knew which videos were which, this was the easiest way to do it. I bundled their videos into a project and named it with one of the student’s name and their class.

In the second session, the students learned how to find their project, open it up and group the clips in order. So, in one group, all the yellow clips were together, all the blues, all the reds, etc. We then looked at how to remove the audio from their videos and finally how to choose music that is supplied with the app that they could put on the movie.

In the final session, we looked at how to put titles in their movies. I wanted cards that had written the colour before the clips came on. I then showed them how to put credits at the end.

The movies came out beautifully. Yes, the students could be quite shakey when filming, but that will improve with time. The important thing is that they learned how movies are made up of clips, and about the role of music and titles in a movie project.

Here’s a video where I explain what we did.

And here are a couple of examples.


Silent Movies (Prep-Gr2)

There is a wonderful app called Silent Film Studio which lets you shoot video clips on the iPad, add title cards (in that wonderful art deco style) and converts it all into a shakey, scratchy silent movie with an era-approriate piano jingle to go with it. It’s easy and a lot of fun to use.

I showed the students a couple of examples of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, so they got the idea of slapstick. You can appreciate how the 6-8 year olds really loved seeing movies of people fake slapping each other and falling about everywhere. The only thing they loved more than watching the movies was making them.

This short video I’ve done explains how you can quickly make a silent movie using the app.

I spent two sessions on this. The first was the introduction to the genre and the app, with some time for the kids to play around with it. The second session was for them to start from scratch and make their movies.

I didn’t worry much about title cards for the Prep-Gr 1s, but I did insist the Gr 2s put some thought into what should go on them. We discussed how they were used for dialoague, in place of sound, and occassionally for setting the scene.

Here is a student example.

A fun activity that taught the kids about movie making from yesteryear, but one that the kids were highly engaged in making.

Shooting and Editing Music Videos (Gr 5-6)

Wow, this was a tough one. This project ended up ok, but didn’t happen as I originally intended. Let me explain.

The whole point of getting students to shoot and edit their own music videos, was to teach them the technique of “multicam editing”. This is the technique where multiple cameras are used to shoot a scene (let’s say, a close up, medium shot and wide shot) and the editors in Premiere Pro would sync each clip together (usually with a clapperboard sound or hand clapping) and then simply choose which clip to place in their video one at a time.

Here is a good video that explains the process.

I thought – and this shows my lack of education in this area – that i could adapt this by having the students in groups to have 3-4 different versions of them performing a song. Let’s say . . .

  • Version 1: Kids singing the song
  • Version 2: Other kids singing the song
  • Version 3: Kids dancing to the song
  • Version 4: Kids “acting” parts of the song.

They would need to play their song from an iPad off camera on a count of 1,2,3 – Go. That word GO is what would sync all the clips in Premiere.

Make sense? Well, sort of. What I came to realise is that’s not really what multicam editing is meant to be for. It only really works if mutliple cameras are shooting the same scene, as the name implies. Also, the kids would need to record each version for the entire length of the song. Most groups did not do that.

So, I had to backtrack a bit, after seeing what the kids filmed. We had to look at editing it in a more traditional way.

So, to set up this project, I got each group to nominate which song they wanted to do. I said that it had to be a song that the singers in the group knew very well. I assured them that we would take out the sound in editing, and sync the real song in it’s place – so, no need to feel self conscious. I also made it clear that they couldn’t lipsync the song. Lip syncing always looks incredibly fake. Obviously I had to vett the songs to make sure they were appropriate. Although the kids knew that meant no swearing or inappropriate content like sex, drugs and violence, they often would miss some of the more subtle innuendos in the song, in which case I told them they had to choose again.


I then put all the songs on iPads 1-6. These were the “audio” iPads. iPads 7-12 were my “video” iPads – the ones that the kids would use for filming. Again, the idea is that the audio iPad would be close to the video iPad, but off camera, with a countdown.

In explaining all of this, I showed them a cut down version of what I did. I always say to the kids that I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I would not do myself. So, on my own, I did do a (deliberately embarrassing) version of Pharell Williams “Happy”. I filmed the song four times, in this way.

  • Version 1: Singing standing up in one location
  • Version 2: Singing sitting down in another location
  • Version 3: Dancing to the song in yet another location
  • Version 4: Snapping my fingers to the song in yet another location

When I filmed, edited and explained this, it was still my intention to go the multicam route. If I had known that we would be editing this traditionally, I wouldn’t have bothered to film the entire song for Version 3 and 4. It wouldn’t be necessary. These two I call wild tracks, because it doesn’t matter where in the video you put them, it still works. Obviously the singing has to be in the right point in the song.

To my chagrin, here is my (cutdown) version of Happy.

So, after laughing hard for about 10 minutes, each class went out to do the filming. One group even went to the effort of bringing costumes for the shoot, which I loved!

It was once I reviewed what they had done that I realised that the multicam workflow was not going to work. Especially since most students had not recorded full song videos for each clip.

So, for the next session, once all their videos were transferred to our school server, we could begin looking at how to edit this music video traditionally.

The first step was to sync the song to the video. This required students to listen out for that 1,2,3,go intro and put the song right at that point, muting the video audio at the same time. Then they had to look at other clips they had, and choose subclips at different points.

Here’s a video I made to explain the proceess. Please note, because I used the Pharell Williams song “Happy” I didn’t play the sound in the video below for copyright reasons

The whole project took 3 sessions, with the first being the shoot, and the last two being the edit. Although the students did save the projects and export them as movies, we could not upload them to YouTube for their portfolios because of copyright issues with the songs themselves. This was the perfect opportunity to explain why copyright exists and the permissions needed to include other people’s songs on projects. We did save them and share them, though.

All in all, a challenging project that did need to be reworked, but the students had a lot of fun doing it.

Term 4 – Introduction to Movies

Sorry I haven’t updated all term. It’s been a mad last term, as any teacher can sympathise with.

Because of the madness of this term, instead of going week by week, each post will concentrate on a project I did with the kids. With special days, camps, transition days, my term planner got adjusted so many times to keep up, going week by week doesn’t seem feasible anymore.

So, let’s recap. The Prep-Gr 4s last term did animation. This term they are doing Video Production. One of the projects I did this term, the Instructional Videos and the Trailers that I did with the Gr 5-6s, this term I did with the Gr 3-4s. If you would like to read about that, you can find my post on Instructional Videos here and my post on Trailers here.

The Gr5-6s upgraded to doing “Post Production”. This refers to motion graphics, audio mixing, green screen work and video effects. The only one we didn’t get into was audio mixing, but that might work well next year when the Gr 5s become Gr 6s and I’m on the look out for new projects.

Anyway, going way back to the start of the term, it was time to start my video production unit to the younger grades. The Preps-Gr 4s spent this session looking at a more basic version of the PowerPoint I used last term with the older kids.

Instead of looking at the different stages of production when shooting a movie, though, we looked at the different genres that make up the world of movies.

movie genres

I went through a list of genres, explaining what kind of movies fit into them. We made the connection that movies and genres are like books and text types. We also discussed how many movies can have several different genres.

I then asked them to nominate some of their favourite movies according to the genre I put up on the screen. Finally, I made a game where I had several movie clips that I played and asked them what genre they thought the movie belonged to. Again, I stressed, there were more than one answer for most of them.

The kids had fun sharing their favourite movies and why. Before the lesson finished, I said to them that I want to get them to start thinking of movies more analytically. Previously, they had just been consumers. Now I want them to watch and to wonder how movies are made – how they’re shot, how they’re edited and how effects, stunts and music go toward the final product. Even at this young age, even to have an inkling that a lot of work goes into these movies, and it doesn’t just happen by magic, will help students think about and plan their video projects better.


Week 9 – Animate Me, Scratch Jr Pressure Test, Adobe Animate CC & Shots On Film Pt3

This week the Preps had more fun with Animate Me, the Gr 1-2s did a Scratch Pressure Test, I introduced Adobe Animate CC to the Gr 3-4s and the Gr 5-6s finished their Shots on Film project.

Animate Me #2

Well since the Preps were denied doing Stop Motion and doing Scratch Jr, for this last lesson of the term we went back on to Animate Me. In the interim between classes, I had coughed up the few bucks or whatever it cost to release the other characters and let the students play around with them. Each character is different as far as how they move.

Again, I don’t have any examples, but I would recommend this as an easy to use animation tool that young people can get to grips with quite easily. They seem to have a lot of fun doing it.

Scratch Jr Pressure Test

Like the Gr 3-4s did previously, I set up the younger Gr 1-2s with a pressure test. They had 20 minutes to recreate the “recipe” I have them. Most of them did quite well and finished within the time, although I had put in a little obstactle they had to figure out.

As you see from the first page, there is a red block that tells the script to jump to the next scene. Problem is, you won’t see a block like that until you actually create the new scene. So it’s something you have to do in retrospect. It was about 50-50 between the kids who figured it out on their own, to the kids who got sent back after making their mistake and worked out what to do from there.

But the kids certainly had a lot of fun, and learned about some of the other blocks they hadn’t used before.

Adobe Animate CC

Previously called Adobe Flash Professional, Adobe Animate CC is the newly rebranded version of essentially the same program. There are of course some new tweaks (mainly in how it can be published) but most of the tutorials for Adobe Flash you see online could be adapted for Animate CC, and vice versa.

As part of my ethos to expose the students to real, industry standard programs, I wanted to give at least one session to exploring how the “adults” do it. I found this simple tutorial on youTube over at https://youtu.be/8eHfIIeoi0E (which, bizarrely, is silent) and adapted it for my own class. As I said to the students, the bouncing ball animation is one of those classics you learn when you first start studying animation, so it made sense to do it here.

The concept of frame by frame animation was, of course, not new to them, so they just had to adapt to this new environment, which wasn’t hard. What was hard was drawing and then manipulating the oval “ball” so it looked as close to the sketch as possible. As I explained to the students as I went around helping them, its like anything – it takes practise.

Here is my tutorial of how I introduced Adobe Animate CC to the Gr 3-4s.


Shots On Film – Part 3

For the final part of this project, we added titles (including a credit roll) and music and also got them to nest a sequence inside another sequence, which personally I always find useful in my workflow when the movie is all cut together, and you just need to add the titles and music. Initially, this was a bit confusing for them to understand, but when I explained they were “packaging” all their clips, lower thirds and effects into a “box” – the box being the new sequence, they got it just fine.

Here is my final tutorial on this part of the project.

And here are some examples of it all done! Very proud of my students getting it all finished like this!

That’s it for this term!

Next term, the Prep – Grade 4s will start their unit on Video Production (much of it will be similar to what the senior students did, I’m sure) and the Grade 5-6s will do some post production work with Premiere Pro, Audition and After Effects. Oh, and having fun with a green screen as well.

Until then . . .