Using Animation within the classroom

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					Using Animation within the classroom

I guess the first question would be ‘Why bother?’ With Curriculum 2008 now
upon us, we are all looking for new and engaging practices to allow the
children to further their understanding and aid them in their skills
development. Animating is a fantastic opportunity to motivate and enthuse the
children in their learning.

There is an obvious ICT focus with animating, really allowing children to
create and communicate information in a fun and exciting manner. However, it
should also be noted that through the processes of planning, creating,
narrating and editing an animation, the children are also given an excellent
opportunity to develop their communication and thinking skills as well.

Creating 3D models can be quite time consuming, and can also be quite a
challenge for Foundation Phase and Key Stage 2 children to create a
satisfactory end result.

2D animating is a much quicker process, with pleasing results being
achievable by much younger children. It is for these reasons that this booklet
will focus on the 2D animating.

Obviously as with all ICT application in other subjects, it is essential that the
children are given time to understand how to use the cameras, before any
curriculum based films are made. This way their time is devoted on the day to
creating of a purposeful movie, instead of being bogged down with lots of
technical stuff.


This is an important stage of the animating process. Depending on the age
and ability of the children involved, it can take the form of class discussion
based around a whole class storyboard right up to group storyboards with
narration scripts and notes on music and sound effects to be used.

However the planning stage is tackled with the children, the key principle
running through it is that the children think beforehand about what they are
trying to convey in their animation and also roughly what form the scenes in
the animation will take.

Tips to Remember

Timings: Be sure to set aside realistic time periods to allow the project to be
completed successfully, a good animation cannot be dreamt up and created in
an hour! Spread the planning, filming and editing stages over a period of time
and allow opportunities in between these stages for both group and whole
class discussions. Remember the end film can be made up of clips taken over
several weeks. In this way the end film could be made up of a compilation of
lesson activities taken throughout a specific curriculum topic. For a small
animation you can however achieve a successful result using two mornings,
one for narration and character creation, and one to create and record the
narration of the animation.

Moving Parts: One of the crucial aspects of an animation is the ability for the
objects to move on screen. Effective animations can be made where
characters are created from just one piece of card, however creating separate
arms legs etc adds extra realism to the animation. A template for people is
included on the next page to show how one person can be made up of lots of
different parts to allow for more movement. The parts can be held loosely
together using small blobs of blue tack, allowing whole characters to be
moved as one but also allowing for independent movement of arms legs etc.

Make them Big: One of the most surprising things I have found when working
in schools is that the children constantly insist of creating objects to animate
which are too small. The best size scene of animating is an A3 sized sheet,
allowing for greater detail to be added to the animations. Ensure the children
appreciate this by showing them examples or indicating through templates the
size each part should be.

Using Card: In the cash strapped situation we frequently find ourselves in, it
will be tempting to use paper to try to create the different props in out
animations. Remember, card is much much easier for the children to
manipulate, leading to a much better end result.

Colours: One of the great things about 2D animating is the range of different
media that can be used to create animations. The best type are bright bold
colours that really stand out on the screen. Crayons work well for this but
equally paints, fabrics etc can also be used to bring your animations to life.
When using crayons/paints it is also a good idea to outline the different
characters etc in black to ensure a good contrast between the object and its

Actions on screen matching Narration: When creating narrations, it is
obviously important that the narrations match whatever is happening on
screen. When starting animations with the children it is a good idea to limit the
amount of actions described in the narration and use descriptions. For
example, a decription of the minotaur could be narrated as the minotaur
moves around on screen, roaring and waving his hands. As the children get
used to the animating process they can begin to experiment with timings,
adding more actions and ensuring their narration matches these.

Adding Music: It never ceases to amaze me the effect that music can have
to bring the animations to life. Giving the children a variety of different ‘moods’
of music gives them the opportunity to think about which one best suits the
animation they are creating. is an excellent site for
searching and downloading different tracks for use in animations (it can only
be accessed from home though).

Group Work: In making animations it is essential that the children work as a
group. There are many jobs involved in creating an animation and the process
encourages the children to work collectively and collaboratively towards a
common goal. Groups of three are an ideal size for the average project.

Children’s Planning: Ensure that the children plan their animation before
carrying it out. There should be agreement before it is made about its
contents and progression. Simple storyboards are effective in getting the
children to focus on how they want the finished product to look and what they
need to do to achieve this.

Experience: Give the children opportunity to use the video cameras before
the film making project, this will allow them to use the ‘project time’ more

Lightning: Ensure the room where the animation is created is well lit. Even
expensive cameras need a decent amount of light to create effective

Animation Length: Remember in digiblue, 15 frames equals one second of
movie. Ensure the children create an animation of sufficient length for their

           Making Stop Frame Animations using Digital Blue

           The camera will need to be plugged into the cradle to create animations. Do
           this first and then open up the digital blue movie creator program.

                                                                     Click on this
                                                                     icon to bring
                                                                     up the options

                                                                       Use this icon
                                                                       to take the still
                                                                       pictures, take
                                                                       perhaps 5,
                                                                       then move the
                                                                       object slightly,
                                                                       then take 5
                                                                       more, etc.

        Once you have finished your
        animation, click on this icon and it
        will be saved to your temporary

           Editing your clips to make the Movie

           Once the children have created their clips, they can then be put together and
           edited, adding title pages, narrations, sound effects and transition effects.

                                                                                           Click on
                                                                                           temporary and
Click on the                                                                               select ‘Transfer
scissors icon                                                                              all to permanent.
first to bring                                                                             This way if the
up the                                                                                     computer
following                                                                                  decides to
screen.                                                                                    crash, all the
                                                                                           work will not be

                                                                                           Finally, click on
                                                                                           Permanent and
                                                                                           double click on
                                                                                           the clips you
                                                                                           would like to be
                                                                                           included in your

                                                     Once you have finished selecting
      The scenes you click on will                   your films, click on the cross to
      appear on the timeline in the                  close this menu.
      order you select them.
What can we do in Editing?

Making Clips Shorter:                                                                                               Adding Text: Use this icon to add
Quite often, the children                                                                                           titles to the movie or scenes. You
will have shot too much                                                                                             can change its colour, size, font
video and need to edit it                                                                                           etc. you can even make it scroll.
down. To do this they
need to select the scene
they want to shorten and
click on the scissors icon
at the bottom, they will
                                                                                                                      Adding Sounds: Use this
then be able to shorten
                                                                                                                      icon to add sound effects
the scene.
                                                                                                                      and narration to the

                     Changing Transitions: Click on these icons to change the transitions between slides. You can
                     add fades, cross fades, splits, and many more.

Adding Narration to your Movie Clips               Firstly, select the clip you wish
                                                   to add sound to, then click on
                                                   the sound icon.

                                                                  Next, select the red
                                                                  microphone icon
                                                                  followed by the red
                                                                  microphone icon on
                                                                  the bottom of the

                                                                When you are ready to record,
                                                                click on the red record button,
                                                                the animation will now play
                                                                and what ever you say will
                                                                happen at that particular point
                                                                in the animation.

                      Finally, give the sound a
                      name by writing this name
                      in the box, then click the

                                                           To add the sound to the clip, find
                                                           the sound name in the list and
                                                           drag it onto the picture, the sound
                                                           will now play with the video..

Exporting your Clip

If you want much more choice for background sounds and music, it is much
better to export your movie at this stage and use Windows Movie Maker (a
free program found on the computer).

1. To export, first save your movie by clicking on the disk icon on screen:

2. Next click on the drop down arrow:

3. Select your finished movie from the list and click Export.

4. Change the file type to Windows Media (WMV) and choose where to save
your file.

Finally select save.

Windows Movie Maker

The advantage of using windows movie maker at this stage is that it allows
you to add all manner of sound effects taken from the internet but crucially,
you have the ability to alter the volume of the music/sound effect,
meaning that you will not end up drowning out the sound of the

Open up Windows Movie Maker:

Select import video first and find the movie that you just exported from the
digital blue program:

Untick ‘create clips for video files’ and select ‘import’

Drag your animation down onto the timeline and then select Show Timeline

Click on import audio or music now and find the music files you want to add to
your animation. You are then able to drag the music file to the audio/music
line on your timeline as shown below:

Crucially you will find now that you are able to right click on this audio line and
select volume. You will then be able to lower the sound of the music so that
the narration can still be heard.

                              Finally select file> save movie file to save the
completed animation.