Tag Archives: animation

Pixar in a Box

Pixar in a Box is the result of a collaboration between Pixar and Khan Academy.  A student who is interested in a career in computer animation, or even just wants to know what happens behind the scenes, can learn the basics in six topics: Environment Modeling, Character Modeling, Animation, Crowds, Sets & Staging, and Rendering.  Each stage includes videos (with interviews from some of the Pixar employees as well as samples from movies), online practice, and hands-on suggestions.  Portions of each topic are targeted for “all age levels” while others are for middle and high school students.

My daughter, who is 12, tried out the beginning unit, which is Environment Modeling.  She was quickly engaged in learning how to animate a blade of grass.  The lesson videos were the right length and she really enjoyed the practice.  I question whether “all ages” would have found it as interesting as my daughter did; for her it was the perfect level of challenge.

Khan Academy has been the topic of controversy.  In my opinion, that has been because it has been used incorrectly by some.  Khan Academy lessons should not be assigned to replace the guidance and feedback of a live teacher.  However, they offer a wonderful opportunity for students to learn at their own pace about something of interest or as a supplement to lessons that might not have been initially understood in school.

I think my daughter enjoyed Pixar in a Box because I was sitting beside her – just as enthusiastic to learn and practice.  She has shown an affinity for both math and art, so learning more about animation did not seem like work to her.  If you have a child or student who also shows those qualities, then I would definitely recommend the two of you check out Pixar in a Box together.

image from: Khan Academy/Pixar
image from: Khan Academy/Pixar

Goldieblox and the Movie Machine App

You may already be familiar with Goldieblox toys.  I’ve featured a couple of them on this blog.  I recently visited their site, and they’ve added quite a few more products to their selection – all with the aim of getting children, especially girls, interested in engineering.  One of the kits available for purchase is “Goldieblox and the Movie Machine“, which includes pieces and directions for creating a zoetrope.  The company has released a free app to complement this product, but you don’t need to purchase the kit to get a lot of fun out of the app.

screen shot from GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine app
screen shot from GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine app

Our Maker Club has transitioned from making cardboard games to making movies, and one of the apps the students explored last week was Goldieblox and the Movie Machine.  They quickly figured out what they needed to do to create their own short animations, and they were too busy having fun to ask for help from me.  The club is still testing out different options for movie creation, so we haven’t worked our way up to making final products, but I think this app will definitely be a contender for most popular movie-making tool (along with the Lego Movie Maker app).

If you do happen to have the actual kit, then you can use the app to print out your drawings to put in the zoetrope.  However, this is certainly not mandatory, as you can watch your video play on the iPad just as easily.

I definitely recommend that you add this to the list of apps from which students can select for sharing their learning.  They could, for example, make a video of the life cycle of a butterfly or portray how a character changed in a novel.  I’m sure you can think of many more ways to integrate it with academics!

Powtoon for Educators

I had to search my own blog to find the last time I posted about Powtoon.  It was two years ago!  They have come a long way since then!

Powtoon is a fun way to present, allowing you all kinds of dynamic tools that will keep your viewers engaged.

The company recently launched a major campaign for educators offering free classroom accounts.  These accounts are usually $96/year, and you can add 60 students to your account!  The offer expires on October 31, 2014 – so be sure to activate yours soon!

Powtoon Educator Offer

A lot of resources have been added to the Powtoon library since the last time I reviewed it.  For example, when you go to your Dashboard, and choose to create, you will find that there are many templates that you can use .  These templates are fun; there’s even a “Teacher Intro” one!  I took that one, made a couple of minor changes, and had the one embedded below finished in under 5 minutes.

With all of my talk about creativity this week, Powtoon certainly fits the theme.  Imagine what your students could do with this great tool!

PowToon

During the summer, several of my favorite bloggers, including Richard Byrne at Free Tech 4 Teachers and  Kelly Tenkely at iLearn Technology, posted about a new tool that is in Beta right now, called PowToon.  If you have advanced from Powerpoint to Prezi, and are looking for a new presentation tool, PowToon might be your new choice.  You will need to give them your e-mail address in order to get an invitation, but you should receive your login info fairly quickly; mine was in less than an hour.  The basic level is free, granting you 20 uploads per month to YouTube.

Because PowToon is in Beta, there are a lot of features that are promised for the future.  One problem that will hopefully be fixed fairly soon is the method for inserting images.  You cannot insert directly from your computer files; you must give a URL on which the image is hosted.  This is not insurmountable, but causes a few extra steps that are a bit monotonous.

I will direct you to Richard’s and Kelly’s posts for more details on PowToon.  Kelly’s post is quite detailed, and she recommends watching PowToon’s How to Create Series – which I also highly suggest – once you get logged in.

Below is one of my PowToons, created about Universal Design for Learning.  The video can also be found here:  http://youtu.be/MvBCUURom0o

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Oh wow.  I know that it is hard to find 15 minutes in your day to watch an animated film, but you truly must make the time for this one – especially if you are a lover of books.  This Oscar-nominated short is stunning in graphics and in its message.  My students will be having a discussion about the impact of Gutenberg next week, and I fully intend to incorporate this video into the lesson.  It is beautiful and inspiring.  Bravo to the animation shop, Moonbot Studios for this truly amazing video. (If the embedded video does not work, you can view it at http://vimeo.com/35404908.  You can also download the video FOR FREE from iTunes.  There is an accompanying app for $4.99, which I have not yet previewed.)

 

UPDATE 9/28/16:  Unfortunately, the film is no longer available for free 😦  You can download it from iTunes for $4.99.  It is a beautiful video, and I wish it could still be viewed by everyone…