Recently in Project Reflections Category

Digital Storytelling Reflection

For this project our class teamed up with junior high students to create digital narrative animations by appropriating classic fairy tales and stories. There were two students per group, and two or three mentors per group. It was awesome to have so many mentors for the students because it helped work go faster, and the students always had a resource to answer questions. Mentors designed a storyboard as well as a guide that showed examples of an artist students would draw inspiration from as well as a color guide. The mentors and students then collaborated to come up with how they wanted to create their animations. In the Frog Prince group Monet was our inspiration. We updated our story by having the "princes character drop and i-pod in a pond instead of a pearl. We chose to scan in hand drawn images and manipulate them in photoshop for speed and to go with our painterly aesthetic. We also created a paint animation which was the background for most of our animation. After creating our clips in photoshop we brought them into I Movie and added sound effects, special effects, and music.
Overall this project wet really great. The students and mentors loved it although it was stressful at times. If I had to do a similar project again I would look for ways to simplify the animation process so the students would be more involved. I think I would also let the kids build their own narrative around their own character so they would have more freedom, and perhaps be more free to create and have fun. The pressure around building a long narrative based on an already existing story seemed to be a little too much for the amount of time the kids had to work. No matter what story or project is used I would also allow for a few more class periods for students to work.

Ideas for how to use similar animation in classroom:

-Use the idea of a flip book to make simple animation. Girl flying background changes, body moves. This way movement and animation could be simple but you could really play around with the visual elements. I would accomplish this with photoshop, but you could also add in background stills of other animations. Perhaps your character will fly through a paint animation.

-Have the class collectively work on one narrative so they are all responsible for one scene. You could set up basic characters and story plot but each group could reinterpret them to create their part of the movie. You could then piece the clips together to get a remix type loose story line.

Chalk Animation Music Video

As a reaction to my chalk animation lesson plan, I decided to make my own chalk animation music video. I wrote and played the background music as well as creating the chalk animation. It was a really tedious process to make such a large chalk animation as well as integrating the background and human character. It took about 10 hrs total for production. It wouldn't have taken as long with out the scene with the brick bridge, but still I did not expect the process to be so involved and long. I really enjoyed the process, but if I did a similar project with students I would simplify it a lot. I also found out that creating the illusion of movement across a landscape is much harder than doing transformations with chalk animation so I would encourage students to develop a plot around a transformation. I'm really happy with my final outcome and am glad that I put in the long hours to get a very innovative chalk animation that I hope others will also enjoy.

Chalk and Whiteboard Animation

Honey pot.jpg

For our second project Jillian and myself were instructed to research chalk and whiteboard animation.  We really enjoyed this and found it to be an exciting and very accessible way to introduce children to animation.  We ended up using this technique in class with our peers to create an animation of a bear turning into a honey pot.  We chose the idea of morphing one object into another because the medium lends itself well to this process.  The animation was short but pretty successful for a first attempt.  You can take a look through the first link of this paragraph.  The rest of our research is included in the following:

What is chalk and whiteboard animation?
Chalk and Whiteboard animation i
s created by adding and subtracting lines and images to the artist?s initial drawing.  This can be accomplished on a chalkboard, whiteboard, buildings, streets, and about any flat surface you can draw on.  The actual animation is developed by capturing the imagery through stop motion throughout your drawing process.

How did it develop?
Chalk and whiteboard animation can be traced back drawn animation, line animation, and stop motion animation.  If you look specifically at early line animation such as Harold and the Purple Crayon you can see the similarities between line animation and whiteboard and chalk animation.

Who are some artists working with this style of animation?
Artist from Argentina whose subject matter is based on the development of man and the influence man has on his surroundings.  This is shown by the continual morphing used throughout his work.

Robin Rhodes
Artist from South Africa who is trying to communicate the struggles of living a place surrounded by poverty, crime, and social tension.

Remember that often times you can't re-edit once your imagery is erased so think about how you want to capture it.

Try to capitalize on this mediums ability show morphing and be creative with surface use and interaction with the piece.

Ideas for teaching students
Focus on the ideas of motion and morphing. Have the class pick an animal and object. Explain that throughout the animation the animal will have to turn into the object.  The animal/object will also have to move across the picture plane.  This type of animation lends itself well to illustrating ideas such as:
        -the life cycle
        -the food chain
        -movement patterns (movement of animals, people, etc)

COMBO a collaborative animation by Blu and David Ellis (2 times loop) from blu on Vimeo.

Project 1> Digital Collage


For this project each member of our class was asked to collect a
digital image that would fit each category including animal, mechanical, face,
landscape, and texture.  Then we were instructed to create a monster in a
landscape by collageing the digital images together in Photoshop.  Last we
created another Photoshop file where we built up a series of layers that we
used to change the position of our characters to create an animation.  I
chose to make an alien like character using dog fur and a flamingo body and
placed it in a Mountain climate, which is made from actual mountains, a
butterfly, clouds, and a sculpture. 

I tried to really dissect the photographs and change the coloring so they weren't recognizable and to create a cartoon like atmosphere.  The choice of the snowy climate allowed me to make the background black and white so my character would be more visible.

 I also like the extra addition of the snow falling to add interest to the
animation.  I chose to leave the head and body of my character in two different
layers so they could move separately to add subtle interest and corkiness to my
character, but with such limited time it was hard to portray this when I
actually created the movie.  This was definitely my first attempt at an
animation so it is very rough and short, but I am excited about the knowledge
I've gained through this project and the possibilities it could offer in the
future.  You can take a look at the animation through the link at the beginning of this paragraph.

Some ideas for working with this method of animation in a classroom include:

  • Having the kids use this type of animation in combination with a creative writing project so they could narrate their own monster movie, or whatever subject they choose to use.
  • You could have kids make an animation with a photo of them self and use the concept of collage for the background scenery where they could create their own imaginary world.
  • You could use this collage technique to create a landscape over a photo of your students head.  You could then document this process gradually through an animation that shows the different steps the student took to change their face into a landscape.