Day Five was a relief to have since we weren't completely finished with our project yet, but after taking the temperature of the room, we were slightly ahead of the curve having already spent a lot of time in iMovie before the rest of the workshop. Our students were able to take their time evaluating what they had done in the previous workday and made very few changes. They both liked hearing about what they could do with GarageBand, but didn't incorporate it at all into The Ugly Pumpkin. I think that by having an abstract approach to the storytelling, the students were less "threatened" to produce something super recognizable and therefore were able to make something completely unique. I feel like they did a majority of the work on the project and that there is very little influence of the mentors on their final production of the narrative.
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Day Four was a very productive day working on The Ugly Pumpkin with our two students. Both students are sort of quiet individuals, but make up for it in the amount of work they can accomplish. We referred to our storyboard often and had few wrinkles to work out. In fact, the students worked so well that about half way through the time we had they were already learning how to work with their animation in iMovie. They both really enjoyed "making a movie" and liked manipulating what they'd already created in another format in this new one. Unfortunately, the filters and sounds effects are rather enticing and it was difficult at times to regroup the focus. However, after allowing some time to familiarize with the program, they both quickly returned to the task at hand and made some very good choices with the material.
Day Three involved setting up a light table in the Tweed Museum of Art which was used by three separate groups to incorporate into their animation narratives. Our first group used sand to animate a weather scene in the story Sleepy Hollow. I noticed that the students sometimes weren't as free with their movements, which is at the very core of sand animation, and wanted to be more meticulous with their imagery than necessary. It was suggested that they manipulate the sand for a set amount of time (7 seconds) and then a still image would be taken regardless of whether or not they were finished with their idea. Two other groups used acrylic paint for their transformations in their narrative which worked well with the visual styles that they had chosen earlier on in the process. I noticed that since the interaction of light and dark while using the light table is so pivotal, larger, more noticeable marks need to be made in order to be read. Also, paint animation requires the use of a slow drying paint and cleaning up the acrylic was quite time consuming. The students were enthusiastic about trying something they have never seen before which both helped and hindered them. Some were anxious to begin, while others were a little more conservative and tentative in their approach. Overall, it was a great experience being in a public location like the Tweed Museum of Art and able to talk to other museum goers about what we were doing.
Day Two was rather interesting. My first task of the day was to meet the students as they arrived, made sure that they were all accounted for and to follow up on any that were not present. It was very helpful having another person "conduct traffic" as the students were trickling in and to engage them as they arrived. After leading the students to the classroom, I helped a team working on a narrative story called The Ugly Pumpkin. The students were pitched a story to work on along with a color palette and visual style to work with. After selections were made, two students began working on the characters and settings that go along with The Ugly Pumpkin. Both of the students are rather quiet so it was somewhat difficult to have them share their ideas and to have input into what direction the project should go, but after a bit more refreshing with the Photoshop program, they were able to successfully begin making imagery that we will later use to make an animation.
Day One went rather well I felt. I helped two students learn a little bit about the tools found in Photoshop as well as some fun things you can do with Photo Booth. They began by taking a picture of themselves using the built-in web camera on the Macs and then brought their image of their face into Photoshop. They were instructed to manipulate themselves and the surroundings using tools like brushes, paint bucket, hue & saturation, etc. to show a transformation of some kind. One student chose a direction rather quickly and was diligent in finishing his idea while my other student kept wanting to back all the way up in the process and start over quite a few times. After a bit of discussion, my second student was able to continue on and eventually finish his work. Both students were very excited about using the computer to animate their transformations and met instruction with enthusiasm. I felt a bit strained having to divert my attention to two students at once especially with the obvious difference in their skills using the programs. However, I enjoyed the experience and definitely have a positive outlook on the upcoming opportunities to work with this group of kids.
The Sand/Paint demo was a fun and engaging activity to have during class time. Since this is a such an interesting topic to look into, the research was hardly work and the hardest part was figuring out how to best present the process to a room full of people. While Sand and Paint animation is a visual art form, it is really best understood while experiencing it yourself. This sort of art making definitely strikes home with me due to the fact that one of my opinions on art is that the experience of the creating process can be just as important as the end result. Since our group did a "live" video of the paint animation I would be interested in using the stop-motion approach if I were to try it again. As mentioned earlier, it was sort of difficult to conceive of an idea to animate using these techniques, but with more opportunities I think that using sand and paint animation with students could be successful.
At this point I still don't feel overly confident with Photoshop, but after this project, I feel like I have a better understanding of what I can accomplish while using it. I was surprised mostly by how easily individual "still frames" (layers) can be transformed into a film clip. I definitely see this as a project that could be accomplished in a classroom. I would perhaps lead up to this assignment with other projects working with Photoshop in order for the students to feel comfortable and have an understanding of what the possibilities are when creating an animation using this process. Knowing what tools there are and how they function is vital to the success of this project, therefore I feel that students should have a foundation of basic Photoshop capabilities before attempting this assignment. I would definitely have the students compile their own image bank since half of the fun was seeing what your classmates came up with for the word given. But I would also probably provide a few solid examples for each word since some of the quality of imagery (not content, but quality) was a little lacking and I felt went unused because of it.