Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stop Motion Animation

On a recent visit to a primary classroom, I observed students creating new words by changing the first letter(s) of the words.  For example, if the word was "ball", other students could create a new word by substituting the letter c to make the word call, or the letter w to make wall, and so on.  Students could create either real words or nonsense words and were having quite a bit of fun doing so.  The activity was part of what was overall a very engaging and successful lesson.  As I reflected on the lesson, I began to wonder how technology could potentially be integrated into the activity.  As engaging as it was, the students were working exclusively with concrete materials (e.g., paper letters the students cut out, plastic letters in some cases, etc.)  How could technology enhance our students' experiences?

At the recent 2013 ICE Conference, I attended a breakout session presented by Jeff Shaw, an Academic Facilitator at North Shore Country Day School.  Jeff's presentation, "Stop Motion Magic on an iPad," was incredibly informative and explored how students and teachers could create their own stop motion animated movies using the iMotion app.  The process is remarkably simple: open the camera within the app, take a picture, move items in the picture about a centimeter, take another picture, move items again, take another picture, and repeat.  When your movie is finished, save to the Camera Roll and open it in iMovie to edit and/or add background music or sound effects.  Ta-da!  Easy, right?

Jeff stated during his presentation that 300-350 pictures would make approximately a 30 second movie.  This is my first attempt at a stop motion animation movie:

I took 120 pictures to create that movie, and it lasted 7 seconds.  I am very happy with iMotion's ease of use, and I believe it has many positive potential applications within the classroom, either as a presentation tool for teachers, or as a creation tool for students.  Some lessons learned:

  • Lock the camera/iPad in place.  I tried holding it over a white background and moving the items with my free hand, and you can clearly see the camera's movement from one frame to the next.
  • Think carefully about the process skills students will need to make their own movie, and how those skills will be modeled and taught to students.
  • Some of the greatest discoveries can only happen when there is freedom to explore!
Looking forward to integrating stop motion animation using iMotion!

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