Friday, 30 May 2014

Making a Stop-Start Animation

This week at the MDTA training session we learned how to make stop-start animations. They were so much fun that we all voluntarily gave up our lunch breaks to keep working on them! I imagine students would be equally engaged by making these cool creations...

Here's how you make them from woe (oh gosh it seems like so much work) to GO (step back and watch the magic happen)!

I suggest students have a story-boarding session where they write a script to keep them on track during the photography. That way their story will have direction and include the content you want to review. 

Find a well lit wall of the room and set up a backdrop and a foreground. Blu-tak them down to make sure they don't shift too much. 

I used a scene from a calendar, but a plain sheet of A3 works just as well. If you were going to regularly make animations you might consider having a cardboard set constantly at the ready, with a couple of props like trees... Students could also find a wallpaper online and print it, or draw one themselves. 

Set up the camera. Try to keep it as steady and still as possible. 

I used an old digital camera with a flat base and blu-tak'd the camera in place as well. A tripod for a phone can work. Students can use their netbooks by pulling a chair up to the desk and adding a booster (old phone books work well) so the camera in their netbook is at the right height. 

Blu-tak the character's feet, make them do tiny movements, take a LOT of photos. 

Blu-taking the characters feet makes sure they don't move until you want them to. Have one student moving the characters and telling another student when to take photos. The student taking the photos can position themselves under the desk, ready to click away. 

What happens if I bump the camera out of position or my character falls over?

Change camera angles. That way you won't notice the big jump in continuity and it keeps the footage interesting. Think about changing camera angles anyway if it adds to the story; high angles, low angles, over-the-shoulder shots, close ups... 

Once you have taken all the photos to tell your story, import them to your device. 

Open iPhoto. You can find this by searching in the top right of your Mac  

Import the photos into iPhoto

Open iMovie. There are now some things you need to do before you can drag your photos in from iPhoto. 

Create a new project and change the properties.

If you just drag and drop the photos from iPhoto, each photo will get it's own transition. This will ruin your animation. To avoid this you need to create a new project. 

Right click on the project and select 'Project Properties...'

Change the Initial Photo Placement from Ken Burns (the annoying transitions) to Fit in Frame.

Open your New Project and drag in your photos. If you watch your animation now you will notice it is quite slow, and you will probably want to speed it up...

Click on one of the photos and Command+Shift+A to select them all.  Hover your mouse over one of the photos and you will notice a little cog pop up with a number just above it. Click on the cog and this box will open.

Select 'Clip Adjustments' and change the 'Duration.' I wanted my photos to flick over fairly quickly, so I selected 0.2s. 

If you want some sections of your animation to flick over more slowly, select only the pictures you want to change the speed of (not all) and then deselect (untick) the box that says 'Applies to All Stills.' 

Adding sound to your animation.

Once I was happy with the speed of my animation I used my digital camera to film it playing. Then I opened Garage Band and created a New Project

I selected Vocals and then got ready to voice my animation while playing the animation on my digital camera. This was so I could see the animation while I was talking, to try and get the timing right. I hit the little red circle to begin and end the recording. 

Then I switched back to iMovie and clicked on the little music note on the right. I selected GarageBand and chose the name of my recording. Then I could drag and drop it into my animation. 

Other people who made their animations used the recording feature in iMovie, which is probably easier. However if you do this you can only record sound to the length of the animation and nothing beyond it. 

You can also add iMovie Sound Effects to your animation.

Publishing your finished animation.

Once you are happy with the look and sound of your animation, click on Share and publish it to youtube. You will need a youtube account to do this.

Now you can share your animation to friends and family far and wide, or publish it for the public :) 

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