February 24, 2007

Animating with Oscar Stringer

Img_4759 Teachers' main error with animation is that they, or the kids, start out with an idea that is too complex to achieve. If it's too complex it will defeat you. Here are some simple ideas for animation:

  • How tos: How to make a mummy (useful afterwards as a teaching tool for younger students)
  • Animate objects: A love story about two pairs of shoes.
  • Tell a story everyone knows
  • Don't feel you need language: animation is a way to avoid the need for the spoken word since the images can say it all.

In today's animation workshop ICanAnimate is going to be used to create some claymation (stop motion animation). Another pay-for tool is StopMotionPro. One tool I didn't know about is the Open Source SMAnimator, a free to use application that works well, even has the 'onion-skinning' that you need to see where your character was in the last frame in relation to where he was in the previous one. There's also MonkeyJam.

The workshop intro and some more of Oscar can be seen on the videos on his website.

Some animation tips:

  • Pauses: in music, silence is important. In Dance, stillness is important. In animation we need pauses before action to accentuate the action that's about to happen.
  • Animating multiple features: animating every feature of a model (eyes, arms, feet...) makes the character look 'fast and furious', jumpy. Limit the kids' concentration to animating one thing at a time.
  • Blinks and winks: remove eyes, and pop them back on after three frames.
  • Planning: Oscar's leaving some big pauses (he's just left 18 frames for a special effect he'll add later). This is because he knows what's coming up. Planning is vital to knowing what you're doing, but the collaboration that takes place on the hoof is just as important. Let the kids alter the detail of the story - it's fun.
  • Instant gratification: Look back at what you've done regularly. Give the kids the instant gratification and the time to peer review, criticise and change things if they are not happy - let them get it the way they want it. Actually - get out of their way ;-)
  • Keep models simple: bold design with not too much detail - let the camera have a focus of attention.
  • Add visuals before adding sound effects: it's easier
  • Keep transitions simple: advise the kids to keep transitions to a simple minimum. They tell the viewer when the beginning and end of a scene are taking place. That's all.
  • Animation is 60% sound: Sound effects and voices are not the 'icing on the cake'. They make the film, they bring it to life. You can get some nice sound effects from FindSounds.com
  • Share it: Use the bluetooth on your Mac (or PC Bluetooth adaptor) to send the finished film to one student who can then send it to others around the class. Give them ownership of their own film.
  • Advert-length films: Keep films to that length - somebody's got to watch that film in the end ;-)
  • Visual representations of emotions: much more fun than words


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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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