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Moving Pictures Lab: Using Stop Motion and Time Lapse to think about Documentation and Narrative (ii)

Written by Ben Worthington
August 27, 2013

Okay, not great, but something limited to ten minutes.  Then, usually in small groups, I turn the rest of the class over to them.  I’ve been amazed at what kids can do with this sort of thing.  In an hour or less, they devise all manner of flicks, played out on a few dozen frames, consumable in 30 seconds.  In the film class, we would view the class submissions, critique, and then head back to the drawing board to make more ambitious stop motion films with models big and small.  I talk a bit about Brickfilm, show a couple of homemade Kongs (1&2), and send them on their way.  Above is an example of a film I made early on to illustrate possibilities involving special effects.
A similar stage setup was used here as with the post-its, and while more involved techniques were employed (some frame editing to remove my hand [badly], whiteboard animation, magic, etc.), the overall method remains the same.  At the end of the project, we upload film, have a festival, and a jury votes on winners of the Pine D’Or and the Silver Box Turtle.  Like any good show and tell, students are engaged, interactive, and just competitive enough to fuel some real creativity.  Your mileage may vary.
I have to stop here to give a shoutout to Digital Is contributors Paul Bogush, who gave excellent treatment to RSA Animate-style videos in the classroom, and Henry Cohn-Geltner, who discussed stopmotion variantions and methods with great detail. These resources cover some of the same ground that I’m treading here, but both Paul and Henry created resources masterfully wrought and practical.  Their detailed suggestions, which are recognizable from the perspective of my postit flicks, are graceful, experienced, and essential in helping steer clear of many of the pitfalls of this sort of creation. Attention to prior planning, analogous to scripting and storyboarding in film, has to be integral as to why these student products are so delightful.  Because the purpose of such text is to inform and perhaps persuade, I encourage students forming texts and presentation media to consider this approach.