November 6, 2014
Stop Motion Animation with 3D Printing
My students are in the midst of making mockumentaries on the 3D printed insects that they have “discovered” in our classroom ecosystem. It has been nice teaching this for a second year in a row. Teachers always do it a bit better after the first time. This year I also have the benefit of a student teacher. He chose this insect unit for a big project he needs to complete for his class. Having another teacher to bounce ideas off of and to collaborate with has been great. That fresh perspective has led to better teaching and I’m excited to see the students’ finished projects.
My student teacher, Mr. Howard, began the documentary part of the insect project by having the students create storyboards. Last year the video part was originally meant for students who finish their newsletter early. However, it was so much fun that everyone ended up making one. This year we were able to be more intentional about it. The storyboard has done a terrific job in having the students plan ahead and think through what they are going to make. It also gives us the opportunity to show them how to make a plan and stick to it.
Today I had the opportunity to project one of my students story boards on our overhead, then switch over to her video, which was a work in progress. It was kind of like a behind the scene look at the project. Some of my students really needed that visual to understand how to put a project together. I really do think figuring this kind of thing out for themselves is really good for them. However, I also realize that the quality and time taken on this project can be enhanced by a discussion like the one we had today.
One of the issues I had last year with the videos was that the students held the iPads in their hands while making their stop motion animation. This made the videos really shaky and difficult to watch. This year we told the students ahead of time that they could not hold the iPads when they filmed. This spurred a Lego iPad stand revolution. The students quickly built stands for the iPads out of the Legos I have in my room and took care of the problem.
Once the students started filming they ran into another reality of animation, frames per second. Students have been taking about 7 pictures and considering their scene done. After doing some math, they discovered that they don’t even have a second’s worth of video. We talked about shooting a 1 minute scene at 24 frames per second and realized it would take 1,440 frames (or pictures) to make one scene. Some jaws hit the floor. Then we took some time to come up with solutions. Taking still pictures and slowing down the frames per second were the most practical. Referring back to their storyboard, they could easily see what they needed to film. Knowing what they need to say ahead of time, is giving them the information they need in figure out how much video they need to make. So far I have been impressed with what I have seen. I think these documentaries are going to be fantastic.