Recently in Project 3 > Digital Storytelling Category
First off, here is our finished video!
This process was a lot of fun. While we would do some things differently to make the project less busy work, it worked really well and we're pleased with the results. We were able to create an original piece of work while working hand in hand with students. I would definitely jump at this chance again. Very positive experience.
Today was our final time with the students before we were to have the parents night. Today we had to take out images and put them into iMovie to create out films. Also, we needed to go into garageband and generate the audio counterparts to what we've created visually. Potentially, this looked to be the busiest day yet...and it was.
It turned out that while my files were all cleaned up, the background which I had cleared out just filled itself back up with white. What I realized was that I needed to save the files as PSD (PhotoShop Document) instead of JPG because there isn't any negative space in a JPG and so I had to take all of my JPG files and erase the white filled in and then save the m as PSD once again. Needless to say we didn't get around to animating every scene and so that meant more work outside of class for the mentors.
Even though we weren't going to be able to animate everything in our short time with the students, we were still able to talk with them and flesh out all of the ideas they had so the picture was still very much theirs. We we were also able to complete a majority of the audio files including one of the boys being able to create a piece of music that would play during the last scenes of the film. All in all it was a successful day and we were able to complete the film on our next prep day to be ready for the parents day.
Finally, today has come! This day is the day where we finally act out our scenes using out puppets and prepare them for out backgrounds. For this we created a green screen in order to quicken the process of editing out the backgrounds of the real images to replace with our digital ones, completing this world we have created.
How we did it was to have each of the students hold their prospective puppets while we capture the images using a still digital camera. We had a green screen created from green paper rolled out with light cast upon it for the ease of editing. I enjoyed the final project, but if we were to do it again, I think we would have made bases for the rods so that the characters wouldn't move around as much because it is a lot to ask of the students to hold these figures up for an extended period of time like we did. But in the end, it was a good product.
As I stated before in my last post, steel wool is a little dangerous and this was proven in one of the scenes. We were pulling the steel wool off of Icarus' wings to act out the scene of his wings falling apart and I managed to get metal slivers and cut up my hands which would be a hazard if the student was in my shoes. It is important to setup safety measures regardless of what materials you're working with.
After we finished capturing our hundred something images, we had to prepare them for next week's animation. This was to be no easy task because we had to run through over 40 images a piece for each mentor which was not a fast task. I strongly encourage getting an easy system together for cropping out the excess if repeating this project. It would not be reasonable for one teacher to edit an entire classroom's compilation of images in the real world.
This was a good week, albeit busy.
This week was devoted to generating aspects of the project that we would need to make our film. Our Icarus project was rooted in stop animation and so we had to develop two main aspects, the digital side as well as the real aspects. The artificial in our project came from the computers. For that we went gathered images before the students came to create an image bank. This way we weren't searching online for images instead of actually working with them.
For our film we wanted an industrial feel to reflect the tinkerer side of the story as well as our aesthetic goals.
To put it loosely, the story of Icarus is about a genius inventor named Daedalus and his son Icarus who are locked up in a prison for defying the king. To escape the prison, Daedalus fashions to sets of wings out of feathers and wax in order to fly away to safety. Daedalus warns his son not to fly too low as his wings would get wet and heavy, plunging Icarus into the ocean. He Daedalus also warns Icarus not to fly too high as the wax would melt and Icarus would fall from the heavens and meet the same fate as the former. In the end, Icarus is too swept up by the thrill of flying and he ends up flying too close to the sun and so his wings melt and he falls out of the sky and into the sea.
Our students were excited to take on the project and so we created our ideas. The students took turns, one would work on collage with backgrounds digitally while the other would work with the puppets.
The puppets were created by taking dowel rods and taking old nuts, bolts, screws, and other various tools combined with pipe cleaners to fasten them to the rods. After creating the characters we went on to the wings which were made out of some steel wire with steel wool attached to them. We wanted something that could deteriorate to represent the wings falling apart as Icarus flies too close to the sun. I recommend wearing protective gloves and eye wear when working with steel wool because it tends to cut hands when working with it.
This was about all we had time for this week so we will have to save next week for capturing our images for the animation.
This day and the rest of the days of the workshop, I will lend my help as a mentor in the classroom with our students.
Today we were asked to have prepared a visual plan of our ideas for the project, to develop an overall aesthetic for the project that we will follow. Here is the visual plan that our group created.
Once the students arrived in class, we presented our visual plans as groups to the students. Last week the students were able to work in photoshop and experiment with animating so they now had a foundation to work upon. So what we did as mentors was pitch our ideas to the students through our visual presentation and a short little speech about what our project was about. We then had the students choose the projects they wanted to be attached to and we didn't really have the problem of students not getting into what they wanted to. I was glad to see it did not mirror registering for classes here at college.
After we split off into 7 groups of 2 students to 2-3 mentors, we got to work. Now was the time to work our think tanks. The students and mentors worked closely developing concept art and storyboards, much like Brent and I did for our storyboard project a few weeks before.
Here I have an image from that day.
Today was a positive day as well. It was a bit of a struggle to get the students to generate images but with some motivation we were able to get some ideas on paper. The two boys in our group were also able to get some time with photoshop, experimenting with our visual plan's ideas as well as some textures and other aspects through photoshop. I look forward to the next week.
For this day of the workshop I was given the job to be in the Tweed(the on campus art museum). For this first day we were separated into two main groups, one group was working with the students and a smaller group was working in the Tweed.
The Tweed group was the first to receive the students and it was our job to explain camera-less animation to them. The initial plan was to have a group of us in the Tweed each week, explaining a different type of animation and giving not only our group of students a chance to experience it, but also anyone who was interested inside of the museum.
As I said, this first week was dealing with camera-less animation which includes basically flip books as well as zoetropes. It's the same concept as animating on a screen, just take out the screen. The illusion of animation here and in conventional animation is created by taking a series of images and playing them in a fast enough way to give the illusion of movement.
The kids seemed to tackle the tasks well but they also seemed a bit rushed. I imagine that this problem will be less prevalent in future weeks because this was only the first day and so things were just getting started. Once they were finished they went off to the classroom to work with the other mentors while we stayed in the Tweed to offer this experience to any visitors to the museum. It seems that shyness got to many of them or they simply weren't interested enough to confront us because the only real visitors we got was a boy of about 12 years of age and his grandfather.
It was enjoyable to have them though because they bounced ideas off of each other and even though there was a technical difference in each one's own skills, it was obvious they appreciated one another's work.
My impression of today is very positive, but it seems that we were over-staffed once our group of students went off to the classroom.
The next few entries will be related to the Digital Arts Workshop. This project is an experimental undertaking which involves mentors (the students of my digital methods class, including myself) closely working with students age 10-14 at about a one mentor to one student ratio. This is an after school program that will span the period of one tuesday night a week for about two hours each week.