March 2011 Archives

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.

About this Archive

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

February 2011 is the previous archive.

April 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 4.31-en