Region 4 DigiCamp 2015: Stop Motion 101

During the week of June 15-19 I had a blast. Yes! The real fun was going on at Region 4 ESC. We were blessed with 17 fourth-grade students from Holbrook Elementary School to participate in our new Region 4 DigiCamp. The talented students received hands-on instruction in video production, digital lessons and stop motion animation. For more information about the event, please take a look at this article on the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD site.

My team (Digital Learning Solutions) was great at taking care of the details. From providing transportation to what everyone was going to eat for breakfast and lunch; from fun icebreakers (like Minute to Win It!)  to fantastic and engaging sessions. Kristi and I were responsible for preparing a session about stop motion animation. And yes! The fun did begin! Then, our team found this kid friendly software called HUE Animation Studio and the Special Education team provided us with a bunch of toys to inspire students to create the most hilarious and wonderful stop motion animation stories ever told.

Heroshe and Dinomite

To illustrate to students the possibilities of stop motion and to demonstrate what they would learn in the session, we decided to make a short animation using the same resources that students were going to have access to. Then, armed with clay, cardboard, and inspiring toys we crafted the story, set up the stage and shot the scenes using the HUE Animation Studio software and HD camera.

The Making of Heroshe and Dinomite.
The Making of Heroshe and Dinomite.

The process of creating our own short animation helped Kristi and me grasp a sense of time for how much students could accomplish in each session. At the same time, we figured out the most relevant software features to demonstrate and then planned for students to have time to experiment with the functionality on their own.

Stop Motion 101

Each day’s session was planned to allow students time to create their own short animation which would be showcased on the last day of DigiCamp. Unfortunately, we ended up having one less session because of a storm on June 16, and, sadly, all sessions were cancelled that day. 

Stop Motion 101 Schedule
Stop Motion 101 Schedule

During each session, students were introduced to relevant features of the software and then time was allowed for student experimentation and creation of an original stop motion animation. Our agenda for each day of the camp was as follows:

Day 1: What Is Stop Motion?

Yes, this is a Wikipedia question, but for the sake of interaction with students, and a cooler learning moment, we let students answer the question. Meanwhile, we passed around a flip book for students to grasp the idea of stop motion as a sequence of images being replaced pretty fast. Wow! That looks like it’s moving for real.

Stop motion is still a very popular technique used in movies and TV shows. We displayed a short video explaining stop motion and showcased some popular films made with the technique. Now I’m thinking that we could have asked students something like—Can you think of a movie or TV show made using the stop motion technique? Am I clever or what?!?!

Once we all got a glimpse into the stop motion world, we went straight to the hands-on instruction. We started walking through Hue Animation Studio by creating a new project and setting up the camera to work with the software. From here, ease peasy. As an example, we made a clay character and took shots of her playing ball. After we had a little fun with it, we let students begin to create their own animated shorts.

Day 2: Let’s Make Some Noise

On the second day we posed another question—Do you know what a Foley artist is? We showed the following video which is totally aaawesome!

Next, after a brainstorming session about how we could simulate sounds with the things around us, we walked through the process of recording and attaching sound to the timeline of our project. Of course, the students had a blast improvising and recording the silliest sounds by hitting objects, producing mouth sounds, and importing pre-made sounds.

Day 3: Storyboarding

Do you remember when I said before that we had a day less because of a storm on June 16? Well this is the part we skipped (let’s call it “ghost day”). We planned to talk about the importance of storyboarding before starting to take actual shots. We wanted students to realize that animations are cool, but telling a story through animation is mind-blowing!

Storyboarding Heroshe and Dinomite
Storyboarding Heroshe and Dinomite

During this session, we planned to have students plan, script and storyboard an original story. On storyboard templates they would represent with detail what was going to occur in each scene.

Day 4: Finishing Up

Last day! There was no time to play games during the session. Everyone was working hard to finish up their projects. Also, students were excited because their parents, grandparents, Cypress-Fairbanks and Region 4 community members were coming to attend the showcase event at noon the next day.

Showcase

Et voilà! Finally, projects are published and ready to show! I bet mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa, were so proud that day :)

A Final Treat

If you read until here I believe it’s because you are interested in stop motion animation or you are a good friend of mine. Then, for you only, I included this great time lapse video showing how to create characters best suited for stop motion animation. Enjoy it :)

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