Thursday, July 2, 2015

Learning to Make Stop Motion Videos

Learning how to make stop motion videos  has been one of my goals. It seems it would be something incredibly motivating (and fun) for kids of all ages to use in develop their creativity. Well, I've made 3 videos now, with three different groups of kids. And believe me... there have been various lessons learned (by me and the kids too).

So if you're here, following along, reading this, you will learn the whole process- the good, the bad and the ugly of the stop motion video making process.

We're ready to film our dancing robot video

To begin with:

Here.It.Is. The biggest lesson I've learned:

When you fall flat on your face, scrape the egg off, and keep moving forward.

I'm hoping the kids learned that lesson too. And, by reading this you can also learn from my mistakes too!

So here's  the first post in my journey of making stop motion videos.

Our First Video- Claymation Time Travel

The first video I attempted with the kids (while still teaching at middle school) was a claymation video (using the stop motion video app called iMotion) with my 7th grade after school art club. I'm working with one I Pad, so there's no way I could attempt this in a regular class of 26 and one device.

The Storyboard

We started out writing the story and creating a storyboard. Everybody on the team, got to be a part of creating the story. The kids came up with the idea of having the characters enter a time machine. They travel back through time into a jungle with dinosaurs. As the dinosaur jumps out of the bushes, the boys run away. The girls punch the dinosaur in the face and knock it out. They all then run back into the time machine and take off. Very simple, straightforward (and girl power)!

Backdrop and Characters

After finishing the storyboard, it was time to create the backdrop/scenery. At this point, different jobs were assigned to the students- some working on the scenery, some working on the characters. I didn't want to even attempt green screen at this point. So we got a big cardboard box, construction paper and glue and started designing.

Some of the kids started designing the characters with Plasticine clay. We had already decided there would be two girl characters and two boy characters, along with the dinosaur in the video. All I really had to do was show the kids how to work with the clay tools. They did some research about dinosaurs on line to help with its design.

Here it is. Our first iMotion video.

Video Making Takeaways

If I could do it over I would have use a tri-fold card board for the background instead of the box. I also would have brought the camera up closer for the shot. We were lucky to film in the library. It has giant windows that flooded the table we were  filming on with light. (Hint- this is a foreshadowing of future problems that I will write about in an upcoming post.) So lighting wasn't a problem. I liked using the manual mode (instead of pre-setting the timer) on the camera when working with the clay. It made it easier to control each shot. After taking the first few shots, the kids really understood the process of ever so slightly moving the figures to create the illusion of motion.

But I'm really happy how it came out. And I was really impressed by how much effort the kids put into this. It's a cute story. And all the characters have wonderful detail and look great.  They really worked hard with the story, working with the Plasticine clay and in creating the background.

My verdict is: Success, with some lessons learned.

On to the next video!

You can check this out and see what happens when we attempt Green Screen in our next video: The Kindness Of Aliens.

What do you think of our first claymation stop motion video? Have you ever made an stop motion video? 
Would you like to share with us the lessons you learned?

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