October 2011 Archives

Flash Animation

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I started to learn Flash animation 2 years ago in my Computer Applications class while in the Graphic Design program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Adobe Flash is a program which enables you to create videos. The videos made can range from very simple to very complicated. What I love about Flash is that you can import vector images and they remain vectors that you can edit. I think Flash is a good program for students to learn. I found a very basic lesson plan on a digital art education blog that I think is a good introduction to Flash.

In the lesson there are 4 basic elements that have to be accomplished in the project. You have a shape that you create which is used in each 4 requirements. The first requirement is that you have to move the shape around the screen and distort is while it moves. The second is that you have to morph the shape into another shape. Thirdly, you must make the shape grow larger. And finally, the shape has to change opacity. Then, you use those shapes to create a concept animation. The teacher listed 7 "concepts" such as playful, congestion, victory, and fear. The concept must be expressed in the animation somehow. When the student is completed, another student has to view their animation and guess what concept was being strived for.

Link to the lesson plan blog:

I think this is a good introduction lesson plan. The first half of the lesson sort of introduces the basics of the program. The student can get a feel for how tweening works and such through this half. The second half encourages the student to work with a more conceptual project, which is something many schools like to focus on. By having to use a concept in a project, the student has to use more critical thinking to successfully portray what he/she is trying to portray. This is a very basic conceptual lesson, but as an intro I think it works great. I think doing animation in photoshop like we did in class first, and then moving on to animation in flash is a good idea. Animation is flash, I feel, is basically an extension of what you can do in photoshop. When you animate in photoshop you understand the concept of layer and frames, and you get an introduction into tweening. From there, flash just adds on.

If I were to do this in my class I would do just that. I would start with a photoshop animation project to get the class used to frames, layers, and basic tweens. I would then introduce a basic flash lesson plan. Then, I would do a little more advanced flash lesson. I actually found a more advanced and very detailed flash lesson plan on another blog. This instructor is very thorough, giving many step by step video instructions and examples. I think that before flash is used that the students may also need a basic understanding of how to use illustrator so that they understand vector objects. With that being said, I definitely think that a flash lesson like this would be used in a upper level high school classroom. With all of the elements that go into flash, I think it would be too complicated and overwhelming for a middle school student to learn.

Advanced Lesson Plan:

When I learned how to do flash videos, I loved it. I think it is a very fun program, and I don't understand why more classrooms don't incorporate it into their curriculum. I guess one of the main issues with that is the cost of buying the program. As I have stated in previous blogs though, Adobe offers amazing educational discounts, and their programs are very affordable.

Flash Examples:

A Flash animation I made in class:



Pfeiffer, Anne. "Suggested Beginning Flash Project." Digital Art Education. 8 Feb. 2010. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. .

Waldman, Scott. "Introduction to Flash Animation CS5." 2008. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. .

3-D CG

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3-D computer graphic imagery is three dimensional animation that has been made on a computer with special software. The use of 3-D CG animation is abundant in our everyday lives. You may have seen this imagery in films such as Finding Nemo

and Wall-E.

Also, many video games such as Call of Duty

and commercials now use 3-D CG. This method of animation is a challenging one and it has been disputed whether or not it is a worthwhile style to bring into the art education classroom.

In Inter/Actions/Inter/Sections: Art Education in a Digital Visual Culture, David Gill explores the use of 3-D CG in a classroom. He examines a case study which was done in a high school art classroom, where the students used a 3-D CG computer program to make a short 5 minute animation. In his study he finds out that the use of 3-D CG can be challenging with students, but also have a lot of benefits. The challenges of trying to animate 3-D CG is that it is a hard program to master. He also found that students had a hard time developing good story lines. The benefits though, I think, outweigh the negatives. Students were applying their experiences with 3-D in visual culture to their classroom projects. The students also gained an appreciation of the use of 3-D CG in their visual culture. It was found that the students enjoyed this medium so they were more focused and motivated to make a quality project. Students were able to learn the program themselves by figuring out what they wanted to do and researching ways in which they could produce what they wanted.

I think the use of 3-D CG in a classroom would definitely be a challenge. I would stick to only exploring this method with older students in the 11th-12th grade range because of the difficulties of learning the software, creating a longer animation, developing successful narratives, and staying motivated. There was also an issue stated in the book about obtaining software because it is so expensive. The good part about using these programs for educational purposes though it that schools can usually get a limited license which is significantly cheaper than the normal program. 3-D CG seems like it is more of an advanced technique, which may cause teachers to worry that they don't know enough about the program to use it in their classroom. What I liked about the way the teacher in the case study introduced the program (Maya) to the students, is that he didn't act like he was the master of the program. He taught the students the basics, and then guided them with their specific needs with their projects. I think that concept can be applied to other software also. There is not enough hours in a day to teach a class everything they need to know in Photoshop or Autocad. But, if I teach the students the basics, they will have a starting point. From there, I can help them explore other methods they may want to use on their project through experimentation, online tutorials, and books.

One thing I like about this subject it that I think it is a career oriented subject. I think there are many art students who think of having a graphic or animation related profession. Studying 3-D CG helps the students to realized what it may be like to be a Pixar animator or a video game designer. In the study from the book, all but one of the students said they would like the opportunity to be a video game designer. I also like how easy it is for the students to see examples of this animation in their every day lives. Almost every kid I know has seen a pixar movie, a commercial with special effects, or a video game. They know what these graphics look like and they can use that knowledge that they already have and apply it to their own projects.

If I were to do this project in my class, I would first start by having a discussion about different types of 3-D CG. I would see what the students are familiar with and maybe even show them some clips of effective use of 3-D CG. Most popular culture uses 3-D CG in movies and games. In movies the story usually focuses on one important character. In games, the story is usually seen through the players point of view. Because of these views, I think it would be interesting to have the students do a "self portrait" animation. I would have them animate themselves and tell a narrative where they are the main character. I think it will also help them stay more connected with their story and characters.

There are many sites which offer a variety of tutorials to help students:

There are a variety of 3D CG programs. Maya is the one suggested in the book. On the site you can get a free trial or a student discount!


Sweeny, Robert. Inter/Actions/Inter/Sections: Art Education in a Digital Visual Culture. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association, 2010. 3-12. Print.

Sand Animation

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Video Example:

Our own video:

Another type of sand animation:


Materials Needed:

-Different colored sand
-Mylar sheet
-Light table

-Popsicle sticks
-Tissue Paper
-Paint Brushes

1. Prepare your station.
-Gather all materials needed
-Tape the mylar sheet to light table The sheet helps with the clean up process.
-Put your camera on a tripod. Putting your camera on a tripod is important for this process so that the animation is consistent and unified.
-Turn on the light table. The light table helps give your animation an even light and helps the sand stand out against a solid, bright background.



2. Brainstorm an idea for what your story is going to be and what your objects/characters will be doing.

Note: It is easier to sand animate if you use basic forms and abstract concepts. For example: Use moving circles and lines to tell your story, rather than trying to create people or animals out of sand. Once you get more familiar with sand, you can challenge yourself by creating more elaborate subjects.

3. When you start to make something out of sand, only build a part of the shape/character at a time. Then, take a picture.


4. Add more on to the character and/or make it move little by little, taking a picture after each addition or movement.


Note: Experiment with using different ways to move the sand, such as adding (additive process) sand to an object to make it grow, or taking away (subtractive process) sand to spell letters.

5. Import the images into photoshop, as shown in class, to make an animation video.

6. Sound can be added to the video by using garage band, as shown in class.



Olsen, Michael. Sand Animation. 2007. Web. 17 Oct 2011. .

Murphy, Mary. Beginner's Guide to Animation. New York, NY: Watson-Guptil Publication, 2008. 28-33. Print.

Nathan, Yuval, and Merav Nathan. Eatliz - Lose This Child Animation Music Video. 2011. Web. 10 Oct 2011. .

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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