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 . . .

Week 8 – Scratch Jr, Scratch and Shots On Film Pt2

Again no Preps this week. The Gr 1-2s were introduced to Scratch in the form of Scratch Jr, the Gr 3-4s finished their Scratch projects and the Gr 5-6s continued editing their Shots on Film projects.

SCRATCH JR

Scratch Jr is the simpler iPad version of Scratch that I have been working on with the Gr3-4s. This was definiately more appropriate for the Gr 1-2s. Again, like with the Stop Motion, I decided to hold off on this with the Preps. I feel that the majority of them are not developmentally ready to do anything on Scratch with much complexity. Nvermind, they’ll get their chance next year.

The interface is a lot simpler, but most of the functionality is still there. Again, like with the older kids using Scratch, I gave them a quick overview with a fun little presentation I did. You can find a recording of that down below.

Kids got a kick out of being given free range to play with the program and discovering what the blocks could do. I had a lot more questions from th 6-7 year olds than I did with the 8-10 year olds (naturally) but the kids learned very quickly and came up with all sorts of quirky animations.

Unfortunately one downside to the app is there is no way to publish the projects and share them online. I suppose this is a consequence of it being for younger kids, but it’s a shame that there is no way I can save these and put them on portfolios like I can with proper Scratch.

Next week, we will be doing a Scratch pressure test, just like I did with the older kids last week.

SCRATCH – THE FINAL PROJECT

So this week the students in Gr 3-4s finished their Scratch projects and sent me the link. One of the problems of the students working in pairs – as the number of devices dictates – is that when they share a joint project, you can never be really sure how much was done by one (if any). Certainly, there are a few students who are more than happy to sit back and let their partner do all the work, and I have made notes of those students and might mention something in their report comments about needing to be more actively involved, but for most students, this isn’t an issue. Sharing the devices equally can be a bit of a challenge for the younger kids who are still learning their social skills, but most do it quite amicably.

In any case, here are a couple of stand out examples that I thought I would share.

//scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/118995185/?autostart=false
//scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/118812067/?autostart=false

Shots On Film – Editing Part 2

In part two on this unit of editing their Shots on Film project, students were asked to import their Photoshop file as individual layers and match them up in the sequence with their corresponding clip. Once that was done, they had to add transition effects. The second part of the tutorial is here below:

Next week, the students will finish it off and add titles (including rolling credits) and music. They will also learn how to nest a composition inside another composition. Sounds complicated? We’ll see . . .

Week 7 – Stop Motion, Scratch and Shots on Film Pt1

Due to a whole day School Concert rehearsal, I didn’t see the Preps this week. The Gr 1-2s had a second go at doing the stop motion photography, the Gr 3-4s started work on their final Scratch project and the Gr 5-6s learned how to create Lower Thirds in Photoshop to bring into their Premiere Pro project.

Stop Motion #2

After having the discussion with the students last week about how to safeguard against having hands (or other extraneous body parts), we reviewed it this week and I modeled how you can work carefully and how you can edit out photos that accidentally have something in it.

The students really took it to heart, and we shared some really fun stop motion animations. We all agreed that if you had a movie that had nothing in it that spoiled it, the illusion works very well. Most movies the kids made didn’t have any particular story to it or anything, but some did and I was very impressed with the imagination and how – with just a couple of small unrelated toys, kids could dream up a universe!

Here are a couple of examples:

Scratch – Final Project

Originally, this was going to be a one lesson thing, done and dusted. But by the end of the first class, the kids begged for another session to finish it off. With such passion and excitement, who was I say no?

There was very little instruction needed. They could build a Scratch project on whatever topic they wanted, with whatever characters. They had (now) two lessons to complete the whole thing, publish it and send me a link.

Like the digital portfolios we did at the end of last term, I had set up a basic Google Form that the students would fill out when they were done, that included fields for their names, class and a space for them to paste the link for their project. This gets imported into a nice Google Sheet that I could then have to refer to when we get to adding to their digital portfolios at the end of the school year.

Next week I will share a couple of examples of what the kids made up.

Shots On Film – Editing Part 1

In this lesson, the Gr 5-6 students learned how to create lower thirds in Photoshop (in one file) and then import their clips and the Photoshop file into a new Premiere project. This is following on from the video they shot last week with the examples of shot compositions. The task was for the students to create lower third “labels” that will match the different shots they took and marry them together in Premiere Pro.

Here is the first of three videos where I talk about this project and what I got the students to do.

Next week. the Gr 5-6s will continue their project and add transitions, titles and music to their project.

 

 

Week 6 – Animate Me, Stop Motion, Scratch and Shot Compositions

This week, the Preps looked at a new app called Animate Me, the Gr 1-2s started work on Stop Motion photography, the Gr 3-4s did more work with Scratch, and the Gr 5-6s learned about shot composition and went out in the “field” (ie: outside the classroom) to film examples.

Animate Me

I had planned for the Stop Motion lessons to include the Preps, but I ultimately decided against it thinking that it would be more appropriate to the older classes. So I found another app I gave them called Animate Me. Animate Me is like a cross between Easy Animator and Sticknodes. It has the kind of fun 3D characters that Easy Animator has, but has the pivot points that Sticknodes have.

animate-me

For this lesson, I let them play with the one character that comes in the free version – a fun worm like creature. They needed to create frame-by-frame animation, experimenting with the different movements and perceptions (the eyes can follow around). Unfortunately as of writing, there is no way for the app to export their projects as movie files, so we weren’t able to save them for later. The kids enjoyed the app though.

Stop Motion

Stop Motion is one of those classic techniques you look at when you study animation. When explaining it to the students, I explained that it was pretty much the same kind of animation they were used to making, but instead of drawing pictures, they needed to take photos.

I set up iPads on tripods all around the room, and room on couches and tables for them to play with some toys I sourced from the early years classrooms. Again, they were encouraged to make small movements as they took their photos. If you don’t know, Stop Motion is the process of taking many, many photos and having the computer (or in this case, the iPad) stitch it together to make a movie.

Now, you can use an ordinary camera to do these, or the standard iOS camera app, but I chose to use the Stop Motion app available on iTunes. I did this mainly because it has the onion skin effect that shows the students where the last photo was taken.

sm

This week was about playing around with the app and understanding how the stop motion worked. We saw straight away that because of the excitement and the rushing to get as many pictures as possible, there were a lot of mistakes made. To make a good stop motion movie, you really need to make sure that the background is consistent and steady. That wasn’t really a problem, but there were a lot of instances when hands or parts of the body were accidentally included in the shot. This really does spoil the effect.

We shared a few of them at the end of class, and we discussed some strategies to try and avoid getting things in the way of the shot. Mainly this boiled down to the students realising to slow it down when making their movies.

Next week we will do this again, but I will show them how to delete a photo if something gets in the way, as well as to check their project to remove any photos with issues.

The Scratch “Pressure Test”

The cooking reality show Masterchef is absolutely huge in Australia. For those not familiar with the competition, one of the regular tasks the contestants have to do is a Pressure Test. This is where a guest chef comes in to the kitchen to show off an extremely complex dish that the contestants all freak out over. They are given a recipe (usually many, many pages) and time (which is always just short of anything realistic) to make the dish as close to what the chef brought in as possible.

This week, the Gr3-4s did a Scratch “Pressure Test”. I had a project built based on something I already found on the Scratch site (hey, no need to reinvent the wheel, right?) and I printed out copies of what the script looked like. The students, in their pairs, had 20 minutes to recreate the project, using the script “recipe” as a guide. If something didn’t work, I wouldn’t tell them what they did wrong. They had to go through their work and “debug” it themselves.

 

I said to the students the reason we were doing this was the same reason they do it on the show. It pushes them to explore parts and blocks in Scratch they might not normally use.

Needless to say, they LOVED doing this. Most groups finished in the given 20 minutes, but not all of them. I gave help after the 20 minutes to groups who couldn’t work out where they went wrong. Usually it was something quite small which was hard for them to pick up.

Here below is the recipe they were given.. I can’t take credit for the project, but the idea of the pressure test in class – that was all me!

scratch-demo-and-project

Shot Composition

Here is another lesson that must mostly be credited to another. This time, from Deila Bumgardner – an online educator that, amongst many other things, teaches using Adobe products. Delia provided a chart that explains how directors and cinematographers set up a shot, and the various shots and angles they might employ.

shots

From this, I created a PowerPoint to show the grade 5-6 students, using the examples Delia provided, to briefly discuss each type of shot and what the purpose is behind them. I will admit, I did not go to film school, so I’m going off what I read, but I think I knew enough to get them started on the ideas.

Next, I provided them with an iPad and a tripod (we haven’t yet got the budget for camcorders, but they’ll be coming hopefully soon) and a clipboard which has this chart on it. The students were then tasked to go outside with their group and film a four second example of each shot. Next week, they will begin editing the shots together to create an instructional video on shot composition. This will go over a few weeks, where I will teach them some more Premiere skills as their project goes on. So, examples to follow in the next few weeks.

Week 5 – Animator and an Introduction to Scratch

This week, the Grade 5-6s are on camp, so we will get to their next project in the next post. The Prep-Grade 2s looked at making digital flipbooks using the app Animator and the Gr 3-4s started with an introduction to Scratch.

Animator

In the first class where we talked about the history of animation, one of the things I brought up was the old fashioned flipbook. Interesting that even five year olds had heard of or seen a flipbook. I was going to get the Prep-Gr 2’s to do it on pads of post-it notes, but I couldn’t get the resources ready in time, so instead I planned a lesson to produce digital flipbooks with an app I found called Animator.

A digital flipbook is literally that. You are presented with a blank screen that looks suspiciously like a post-it note, and you do your drawing on it. When you are done – and I encouraged very SIMPLE drawings – you go to the next frame. On the next frame you see a shadow (technically, it’s called the onion skin) of the previous frame, and you draw on top of it, varying it slightly, for your next frame. And so on, and so on, and so on. This can then be exported as a video file.

animator

I said to the students that this is different to what we’ve done before. This time we are making our own drawings move! The kids found that very appealing and came up with all sorts of interesting designs. Here are some examples:

Next week we will spend a couple of lessons on Stop Motion photography.

Introduction to Scratch

For the first time, really, we get into something that some kids already have some prior knowledge about. Scratch is a wonderful initiative from the folks at MIT. It teaches kids programming using coloured building blocks that snap together to form a script. You can use scratch to make art, games and – yes – animations.

So when talking about it with the kids, I said that this is another way of animating – by using code. I explained how character move and interact depending on the blocks that you put together to tell them what to do. I modelled an example, showcasing various techniques and – for this lesson, just let them have fun and explore for themselves.

This is the first time really in Media Arts that I had to consider differentiation. But there wasn’t much to consider. The kids who already knew something about Scratch went ahead and made something to impress their friends, and those that didn’t either tried to copy what I had done on the screen, or just explored the characters and blocks themselves to make something happen.

Here is how I introduced Scratch to them. This is very much based on the Starter Project you can find in the help section of Scratch.

We didn’t share any of the projects at the end of this class. Next week we are going to do a “Pressure Test” and the weeks that follow will have them create their own choice Scratch project to include on their end of year digital portfolio. I will have more to share then.