Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Film Making for Kids

My son saw the movie "Hugo" after reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret and was inspired to continue his movie making hobby. Here are some things I've been studying up on as we've been trying out lately for digital storytelling.  Info from Trevor Cairney and other sources...

Puppet Pals is available as a free app for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. It is essentially a simple way to create an animated movie using 'cut-out' themed characters and a variety of backdrops and scenes to create an animated 'puppet' play.

There is a free version that comes with Wild West backgrounds and actors.  However, you can also purchase different themes for $US0.99 or the 'Director's Cut' in which you can access all the themes for $US2.99. These allow you to obtain a range of additional scenarios and characters based on themes such as monsters, space, pirates, arthropod armada, Christmas and so on. You can even make your backdrops and characters.

This is a very simple to use app that provides very easy storyboarding. You can record dialogue, move characters around, create some simple effects, change backdrops and settings and characters. Below is an example that my eight year old grandson produced with little instruction and next to no preparation at his second attempt using the app. While ideally, before creating the animation, the writer/producer prepares plot summaries and story ideas, Jacob made this excellent animation as a first take. He used the 'Arthropod Armada' theme from 'Director's Cut'. 

Puppet Pals is a wonderful resource for supporting story telling, writing, language development, creativity, and problem solving, while at the same time introducing them to film making and animation. I could see myself using a smartboard to collaboratively develop a story with my class before introducing individuals and groups to this smart little app.

'Movie Maker' was developed by Tim Grabham, Suridh Hassan, Dave Reeve and Clare Richards. It is another wonderful resource fromWalker Books designed for primary school aged children (7-12 years). It is a kit that contains ideas for making movies, a handbook that shows you how armed with a simple video camera you can make movies. The handbook talks about techniques like storyboarding, production, equipment, sound and lighting, design, special effects, how to vary camera shots and so on. It also includes some very cute aids such as a binocular mask, an adjustable frame, sample story boards, character props (e.g. glasses, moustache) and even authentic theatre tickets.  All it doesn't include is the popcorn.

The Klutz Book of Animation

'The Klutz Book of Animation' by John Cassidy and Nicholas Berger is another excellent aid for child film makers. The book provides step by step guidance to primary aged children to make simple animations using a video camera (as simple as a web cam) and computer and a variety of props, objects, plasticine and so on. The publishers provide a number of videos online that teach children the fundamentals of animation and film making (here). At the publisher's site you can download free instructional videos (here), free sound effects (here) and sample videos made by children (here). Below is a sample using the Klutz methodology. This is a great resource for young film makers. Steven Spielberg would have loved to have this as a child."


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