Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Lots more stopmotion fun and lessons learned

Our fourth day of stopmotion filmmaking fun at our church’s fine arts camp ended today, and our final completed video count stands at 22. None of these films tell complete stories, and many are pretty random, but they do represent a great deal of learning, work, and fun! I published all our videos this evening to a new YouTube channel I created for the class, and am burning a DVD now that will be shown tomorrow at our “film festival.” (My wife will actually sub for me, as I’ll be enroute to NECC 2008 and EduBloggerCon!)

“The Unexpected Champion” (which I posted about Monday night in “Lessons learned about Stopmotion after Arts Academy Day 1”) remains a personal favorite movie creation from the past week, but the following are also high on my list this week:

“The Rescue” (34 sec)

“The Lonely Blob and His Special Someone” (1 min, 8 sec)

“The Trophy” (1 min, 54 sec)

I helped create “Not A Tasty Treat” (33 sec) after discussing stopmotion possibilities with projector shadow characters all week with my high school assistant:

As you can see, we got pretty silly with our creations but we also learned a great deal.

Like coaching a sport, I found that the more I personally experienced, created and “played” with stopmotion filmmaking and claymation, the better I was able to teach and facilitate our students as they created stopmotion projects. Many kids tried to put too many objects in their films, and often those did not succeed in telling a cogent story. It was difficult for some (particularly younger students) to be patient enough to take the LARGE number of pictures necessary to make reasonably smooth stopmotion movement. By the last classes of the day today, my high school assistant and I were counseling teams to just use a few characters (keep it very simple) and try to really animate their clay objects instead of just moving them around like action figures or finger puppets.

All in all, I think our workshop and class was a success and a big hit. No one created an epic film (or even something that could be considered a “complete” movie) but everyone got multiple experiences creating stopmotion and was introduced to the storyboarding process. With the exception of my own children and my assistant, NONE of the kids in my classes had ever done any stopmotion filmmaking with objects or with clay. Everyone liked it, and in several cases I had to shoo kids out of the classroom because they wanted to keep on working even after our classtime was over! It’s great to work in an environment where the students are having fun and are very motivated to work. (Of course that condition wasn’t universal, and this WAS a voluntary summer arts camp, but still it was nice.) We could have had each student work on a single project that was completed at the end of the week, but I think it was better to have them work on and complete multiple small projects. These “small victories” (as Marco Torres sometimes says in similar contexts) are key for learning, I think. The biggest success was that in the workshop, we (as teachers and class leaders) followed the guideline, “More them. Less us.” The hands-on, collaborative work in groups was great. Not everything went smoothly, and things were difficult for some at times due to natural group dynamics, but all those things are important parts of the learning process. Teaching this class this week was a real treat! 🙂

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2 responses to “Lots more stopmotion fun and lessons learned”

  1. Kevin Hodgson Avatar

    I like the Lonely Blob flick. Very cute. The ability to create captions is interesting. Some of your observations are the same that I often have when I do stop-motion animation (patience, structure, story).

    Yesterday, my 10 year old got bored and so I set up my stop-motion software and told him to get some Legos, and he spent a few hours shooting a few scenes. He got into it (we have done our own clay movies before — as you said: the more I can do it, the better I am in helping my students).

    My son got most interested after he asked: Can I put it on YouTube? yes, I said, and his eyes lit up. The power of the publishing platform.

    In two weeks, I am running a claymation camp for about 15 middle school students, so I, too, am getting my head ready.

    It’s been fun to follow your camp progress and then compare it with mine. Your reflections have been valuable.

    Take care

  2. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Thanks for the feedback, Kevin! It IS amazing to see what a difference perceptions of authentic audience can do for student motivation. Have fun with your claymation camp! I REALLY enjoyed this opportunity– All the kids were able to get a DVD copy of all their films today, and my wife reported that they were quite stoked about that. (I trekked down to San Antonio today for NECC, so I missed the last day of video sharing.)