The teacher that I have been working with lately were discussing alternative forms of animation the other day and our attention was caught by a computer set up we had in the room.

As you can see from the pictures the computer is in a small cubby in the classroom. But we found if you turn it side ways, you can create a perfect little animation studio. This a very basic animation set up. You have your choice of one angle, and the lighting would either be limited or you would have to provide more with a lamp(which I would highly suggest.)


How you would want to use it:
In order for you to be able to see the base you need to build up a platform and/or tilt the computer. Another use for the studio would be to do a paper cutting animation and just tape it to the side wall.

These few pictures show what the view from the camera would be. I did not do any examples of paper cut animation but I think it would have a very cool effect

Photo 4.jpgPhoto 1.jpg

Talk about super easy to set up and take down. The area is so small that the students wont have a problem getting the same angle and light every time they have to set up the area. Not to mention they love photo booth. I swear photo booth is better than a surveillance camera. they see it, and even if they stole something they would probably pose for the camera before they left the room with it. So its a program you know they cant say the don't know how to use. hahaha

Working with Middle school

So far working with middle schoolers has been an interesting event. I remember hearing someone once say you have to always make it seem like it was their idea. Well there could not be any more truth to that statement.

I decided to introduce the concept of animation to the students. And as I presumed, about half the class was jazzed and the other half were thinking "please don't make me work." And that when I started wondering why is it that elementary students are very excited to participate in an animation, high schoolers are even more excited, but with middle schoolers the idea fizzles. I mean, you can not find anything more relevant to a 6-8th grade student. 90% of them do nothing but watch cartoons all day.

That's when I tarted thinking about ways to make it seem like their idea. Having students collaborate in groups at this age for and animation project is out of the question. You will have a class of miserable students, and then nothing will get done.

I decided if I am going to teach animation to my students I decided there are certain things I would teach to each age group.
Elementary school- Every thing has to be very well organized. You have to have a definite plan that will make the project about experiencing the materials. Have them all work together to create the plot. Maybe have a discussion about how
High School- With high school I would give them a lesson about several different animation styles, but then have them create an animation that has boundaries. Don't mistake boundaries for control. These standards are meant to make the students think critically and creatively to complete a problem.
Middle School- Middle schoolers on the other hand are a different story. I would give them a lesson of the different kinds of animation and how they are done on the most basic level and then have them all choose their own kind of animation. As a class they would decider they would want to combine all their animations into one or if they would want to keep them all separate.

Working with Animation

As you may have noticed lately I have been focusing on the software of animation. Unfortunately it has been a slow and unhappy process. I am a very hands-on person. So you put me behind a camera or let me play with claymation and i am all over that. But if you ask me to work on a computer and get everything to align and work together and you have put me in a whole new battle.

I have been pending the last week battling with different animation programs as well as movie editing programs, and have found myself running into walls. There comes a point when you have to stop trying to figure something out yourself and just hand it over to someone else to do it.

I decided to work on something else for a change. I have been working with another teacher who has experimented with Animation in his class. He was able to find all sorts of different animation software online that was free and pretty user friendly. The two that I thought were the most interesting had pre-made Characters.

At first I thought what is the point of teaching students animation if they do not draw and design their own characters. But as I have been teaching Middle school, I realized that creating characters is a skill set that may be way over their heads. With these programs would allow the students to play with the movement of characters they choose, and they add words and sound to it. The

This program is another Download. You can create your own characters, but you have the option of using the ones that they provide for you in the program. The characters have a bone structure on them that you can maneuver the limbs in any direction you want them in. As far as how you control the characters you design, I am still looking into that.

This is a program that you have to log into online. If you have ever seen a Gieko commercial where they brag about asking a terrible animated commercial in under 15 minutes, well I am pretty sure those commercials were made on this program.

The chalk animation

During the first semester I was able to do an animation station at UMD. I only had one person show up however that was enough to create a small animation project. Chalk animation seemed to be one of the harder animations for me to work with and accomplish. This is also the shortest animation that I have made since I have been working in animation. The fact that all the shorts had to be drawn individually was a challenge. And another change was making each character the same size as we moved long. The character kind of morphed as the animation went along, so we just went with it and kept changing it. For this animation we did not really focus on a plot we just focused on the movement of tha chalk creatures.

My blog was looking boring

I have been writing a lot but nothing is too pretty so I decided we needed a change in scenery. I have been scanning the web for thing I thought were interesting or just plain pretty so here are a re few of my favorite over the past few days.

Favorite Quote:

There is no particular mystery in animation...It really very simple, and like anything that is simple, it is about the hardest thing in the world to do.
- Bill Tytla Walt Disney studio June 1937

I love this animation. I found it while looking through an animators blog. And one of the things that grabbed by attention was the movement and the way it was illustrated. I also loved that there were guide lines still left in the animation as well. I feel like if a student were to look at this they could be inspired by the unique quality of the each drawing.

Thought of You from Ryan J Woodward on Vimeo.

This is the back story of how this animation came to be.

Thought of You - Behind the Scenes Preview - ROUGH CUT from Cambell Christensen on Vimeo.

Character designs

Character design is super important and it is something I have over looked. When you are making your animation you cant doubt what your character is going to look like in the next scene.

I found these designs through a website that just posted a variety of different characters that artists had made. Some of them are complicated others are very simple and would be easy to work with. I found these to be interesting and they got me thinking about my own creatures in my work. Something very simple can have a lot of emotion and personality if it is drawn right.







Apple fix it center Adventure

As I wrote earlier, I was having trouble with my computer and its ability to download animation programs. So I decided to go to the local Apple fix it store. And learned a valuable lesson today. - If you have a problem with your computer and you have access to a computer assistance store, GET THEIR HELP!!!-

I went to the store and sat down with one of the tech guys, and it turns out he is a film major. So we started talking to me about the quirks and tricks of macs and iMovie. If you want the easy solution to all your problems, just get final cut and don't mess with iMovie. However we live in a world where we can't just drop $200 on a software program.

My computer is now to the point where it does not have enough ram or a brave enough operating system to handle a lot of the animation programs online. But if I wanted to downgrade to iMovie HD, I found a way that can happen.

If you have iMovie 8 or any of the newer iMovie programs, and you have tried to downgrade you may have come into trouble. The reason for this is because your computer sees the newer version and thinks "oh they already have the newer version I'm not going to download this old thing." So if you want to download iMovie HD, you will first need to uninstall your newer version of iMovie.

If you have a newer computer then Wikipedia "free animation editor" and it will give you a list of free downloads that you can work with.

I already have a few project started in iMovie so I have to finish those before I can uninstall. VERY IMPORTANT: Your movies in iMovie with not downgrade. If you try to open and work on your project in an older version of iMovie, it will not work.

This is only half of the information I was able to get from talking with the tech. So its amazing what you can learn from sitting down for a few hours with someone who knows how to work a computer.

Helping your school

I have been working at an elementary school for the past few months, and today we just went over the winter test scores and school quality report. Our principle went through a list of things that all the teachers should be involved in. I realized it is very easy for a specialist teacher to sit back and think, "man I glad I don't have to worry about that." But the truth is you do have to worry about it.

It is no secret that art is losing ground in the public schools. This is a disaster because we know how important art is to a students learning. However Districts like classes that can be measured. The sad truth is: Tests make a subject valid. When it can be measured, districts can see progress, where it needs to improve, and (what they really want to know) how they compare to other schools.

Art may never be able to be measured the same way math, science and reading are, but we can help improve these test scores through art. Every other class has to find an activity to fit their content. We already have an activity, all you need to do is add the content. (Which I always thought was easier.)

With animation you have reading an writing built right into the project. If you are going to have the students make a movie, have them do a little research before hand. Have them check out a book. The books that I think aid in an animation project the most are series of short stories, Children's books(not all children's books are short and easy), and comic books. The students can get an example of good story telling and illustration.

Writing in animation is equally important. Have the students write in detail what they are going to put in their animation. Have them keep these notes with them at all times. Using notes is an important skill to know haw to use, and this gives them first hand experience with it. Once they are finished with their animation, have them write a summery about their movie. Have the students treat the summery like they are writing it for the back of their film. Don't just give a writing assignment because you think its a good idea, show them the relevance of writing what the movie is about. Every student has at least seen the summery on the back of a movie, so they will see that it is a vital part of movie making.

I know this post was a little preachy, but after everything that has been happening in education I felt like I needed to release a little bit. We can complain all we want or we can do something. And the great thing about animation is that it makes an impression. It shows people there is more to art than watercolor and clay bowls.

An animators discouragment

Today was a very ineffective day. Sometimes it happens, where no matter what you try you can never get ahead of the game.

I worked for, what seemed like an eternity, on a Sand Animation project that can't be finished in iMovie because of its limitations. If you ever want to try to speed up a clip in iMovie, save yourself the time and agony, and don't try it. Turns out speeding up anything in Imovie is not an option. If you are putting together a montage or arranging pictures for a wedding iMovie is fantastic, if you are trying to animate, the program will make you want too shoot yourself in the foot. If any one else feels frustrated with iMovie, I understand where you are coming from. My computer did not come with iMovie HD, and downloading the program has failed for me every time.

The up side of this experience is, I know exactly what that program is capable of. I have searched it up down and side ways and if it has a feature that is nifty I know about it. I could make a fabulous photo slide show set to music... it would make onlookers cry. I also found that if you are not adding anything fancy other than music to your animations, then the program is fine to work with.

I really wanted to make this research about working with what you have. I worked with what I had, and now I know what I need in order to do certain things with animation. Every program has its limitations.

But a glimmer of hope lies in the distance. There is an Apple repair store in the area, so I will looking for ways to fix the ailments that may be plaguing my computer.

I will be making a blog entry of what is suggested for unruly computers that are not excepting programs, then if we ever have this problem again, we might know what to do.

So wish me better luck next time.

Super simple free animation software

I wave been stumbling around iMovie, and have come to the conclusion that its attempts to be simplified, it has become complicated. So I went searching for a program that I though any student could use. That is when I found Pencil.

Pencil is a ridiculously simplified version of Tuneboom, it can work on any computer(not just Macs), and best of all its a free download! Hurray for free stuff!!!

I had to play around in it for a while in order to understand it, but it took very little time to understand. This would be a great project to let students just play around with to get used to using the technology, and then later you can add more complex exceptions and instruction.

Download link:

User manual:

Animation with a camera phone

While I have been wandering around the internet I found some articles about people who have been animating with Camera phones. In a world where phones mean more to students than personal high-gene, parents, or food, I fell like this is a sure fire way to get your students fired up about animation. One of the best examples I could find, is said to also be the worlds smallest animation. If you ask me I think these guys are just over achievers at this point. Not only did they decide to make an animation with a camera phone, but they made it the smallest stop motion they could. The animation is called Dot, its a 90 second film of the adventures of a little girl who is .35 inches tall. The film was aided by a phone Microscope that was invented by bioengineer Daniel Fletcher. The original purpose of the microscope was to be used by doctors in poor and rural areas. They could take pictures of blood and tissue samples with the "Cellscope", and send them via cell phone to laboratories anywhere in the world. The phone that was used was a Nokia N8. Now don't everybody run out and buy a Nokia. I am not here to sell a phone. I am curious to see if something like this would work with any camera phone. The creators of this little adventure were the same people who Brought you Wallace and Gromit, so needless to say these guys knew what they were doing. I have decided to give this endeavor a try. I will be blogging as a go.