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Stop-Motion for Schools

TYPICAL SET-UP

Laptop installed with capture software. Ipads can be used with a free app such as STOP-MO and a stand.

CAMERA These cheap Hong Kong webcams are ideal. Whatever you use will need to be on some sort of stand and be focusable.

TAPE - If the cam wobbles or gets knocked easily, it ruins the whole movie. Use plenty of Duck tape to secure cam / leads / backdrops etc.

LIGHTS - Using light from a window always result in the movie flickering. Using a lamp improves the colour and quality. A clip-on light is the easiest but a normal reading lamp with a cool low energy bulb will do the job.

Superior image quality is possible with a DV camcorder and firewire connection.

SOFTWARE For school you cant beat Monkeyjam. It works with any USB cam and its FREE

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1. NARRATIVE

Sort the class into groups of between 3 and 5 pupils. Either get them to create their own story or work with one they all know. Starting with a ready-made or even classic story is good for a first project.

2. CHARACTERS

Dinosaurs and monsters are easy enough but it can be tricky to make figures that are all of the same scale and that don’t flop. Have a look at the DOLLYPEG PEOPLE video.

3. SETS Backdrops need to be at least A3 size, either painted or printed from images downloaded from internet.

4. CAPTURING

Open Monkeyjam and capture the images in sequence, moving the figures just a little between shots. At the beginning of each scene and during the action when characters are talking, pause the action by taking say 10 shots without moving the figures. The actual timing can be altered in the editing later, but this does helps the children think about action and dialogue together.

5. TEAMWORK

Each team will quickly find that sorting roles and communicating properly is critical to moving the characters and capturing the images efficiently. I always stop the class after 10 mins to discuss which teams have got it sorted and which teams are still arguing. Some shots will be spoiled by hands in the frame -  Just repeat the shot. Delete spoiled images later.

Planning  Get kids to discuss and plan with storyboards














Kids are professional viewers they already know a lot of about making movies.


Stop Motion

6. PREVIEWING

At any point the captured images can be viewed as a movie. It will run much too fast and will contain mistakes but it will give everybody and idea of how it all works.

7. SPEECH  

Use a microphone and AUDACITY to record dialogue, narration and any . Constantly stopping to re-record because of mistakes is a pain. Just leave the recording running and repeat the line, the duff one can be edited out later. It doesnt have to be done all at one go. Save each session as a WAV file with a suitable name and they can all be added to the movie later. To edit the waveform in Audacity you just shade the required section, delete it or increase the volume or add effects.

8. SOUND EFFECTS and MUSIC

These really add to the impact of a movie. Simple sound effect can be made by the kids along with the dialogue but there are thousands of sound effects available for free download from the internet. Google for a particular sound or try SOUNDDOGS. Do the same for music and use  AUDACITY  to trim the actual clips you want to use. For background music  try AUDIONETWORK.

9. EDITING This is where your amusing but rapid little snippet of jerky video is turned into something impressive. For this you really need some VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE.


The video editor has a timeline onto which you can drag a combination of still images and video clips. You can delete portions and speed them up, slow them down, drag them to different locations on the timeline repeat them, reverse them and as you go along you can play them to view the result.


There will be at least two further lines below where you can drag the sound files to line up with the appropriate video, and adjust the volume as well as fade in and out. There will also be a facility to add titles and credits.



Which Video Editor ?


WINDOWS MOVIE MAKER (Free) - Can be used for editing animations but its really designed for editing your home movies and is not ideal for assembling lots of still shots and slowing everything down (essential for this job).

AVS VIDEO EDITOR - Ideal for School Use - easy and clear to use - does everything and fairly cheap for educational licence.


FULL VIDEO EDITORS (with bells and whistles - Adobe Premiere Elements, Corel, Sony Movie Studio, Pinnacle, Lightworks (free but complex)


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10. AND FINALLY………create a channel for your class and post it all on