Even Potatoes Have Feelings: Introducing Stop Motion Animation Using Digi Blues

A couple of years ago we invested in a set of Digi Blues. This term I have begun to adapt one of our LA units of work for Y4 an introduction to animation. This week being a whole school food week I really wanted to link our session to the work students were doing in class. I had considered, making simple stop motion films using pulses and stuff, but couldn't quite map out what I wanted the students to achieve. Then I remembered Toy Story and the scene where Mr Potato Head having rearranged the parts of his face announces "Hey look! I'm Picasso."
Introducing the session to the students, we explored a colection of characatures I had collected from the web that showed how the shapes of our facial features change, to express our moods. Using a Manga style outline, we began to explore how the character's face might appear according to their moods or feelings.

The children had been previously organised into groups, and roles had been decided on, one child would control the camera, a second would direct and monitor scenes, calling the shots as it were when the scene was clear, while the other's would act as animators, making the small movements neccesary in between each shot.

Each group was given a potato, and a few cocktail sticks. The facial features for our potato head were to be formed from plasticene. The cocktail sticks would act as anchors on the potato while the students manipulated the plasticene shapes to gradually change mood of the forlorn vegetable.

As an introduction to the principles of short film making and stop motion animation the activity was good fun, and the students gained a great deal from the experience. The biggest challenge for them was understanding that the movements of material had to be very small in order that the movements of the character would appear smooth. They also soon discovered on playback that being in shot, meant appearing in the monitor image on screen and not just stepping back, which challenged the director and cameraman.

One problem with the digi blue is the file format that the video is saved in. I have struggled for a while with how we get the files made on these cameras to play on PCs that done't have the softwarw package that comes with them installed, and the solution had been starring me in the face for some time. Importing the .avi files into copies of Microsoft Movie Maker on the same machines, allows them to be exported as Window's Media Video Files, which then can be played in Media Player. It seems that not only the children gained from this experience.

1 comment:

Anthony Evans said...

Love it - what a nice project.
2Animate is a good tool for this too but it saves as swf . I picked up a copy of Kudlains Stop Motion Pro recently and that allows Blue Screen effects- which I am itching to try- will let you know how it goes.