Friday, July 12, 2013

LESSON: Claymation: Part 2 (The Alph-Morph)

Phew!  Now that I got out all that prep in a previous post, I can briefly provide you with the actual process of the Alpha-Morph Claymation that I did with my Mixed Media Class.  

Planning:  First, I tore up the alphabet into pieces and had students pick out of a bowl.  I allowed students to SWAP letters, but not to pick their own.  I wanted to make sure each letter was accounted for.*  Next, students brainstormed as many objects/animals they could think of that started with the given letter.  I then gave students a storyboard to show their thoughts on morphing the letter into the object/animal.  I pointed out that MY "L is for Lightbulb" example was 64 shots!

*Since I had 35 in the class, I tried to double up letters to students for those who might not finish their letter or who might be absent so that I could make sure all letters were created no matter what.  By the end, I found that some letters were still missing and others were doubled up on.  Oh well, can't win them all.  

Demonstration:  After approving the storyboards and discussing other options, or having
I added the same squares to the back to make 30 total;
students ended up grabbing 2 or 3 copies.
those moments of "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if...," or "Awesome!  You could also try...", I then demo'ed using the clay since we were not using Sculpey.  Instead, I purchased Crayola's Model Magic.  I'm kinda' iffy on this.  It's got really bright colors and it's easy to sculpt.  Everything looks super cartoony, which for this project, I found to be just fine.  The bin comes with primary colors and white, and you can smoosh the colors together to make secondary, tertiary, or tints and shades, which is actually pretty cool.  I found that most students just used the clay straight up and didn't mix much.  But still a cool option. Also, the clay has such a strange texture- light and spongey.  It air dries, but does not get hard; it just becomes a permanent soft sculpture.  The downside of this is that you really have to wrap the clay EXTRA well in plastic wrap after each use or it will not be useable the next day at all.  You can also smooth the clay, but that can also be a little tricky, and you certainly cannot get any small details with it.  

Creating:  I gave my students a little rectangle template that they were supposed to use when taking photos.  Basically, they were not supposed to go outside of the border when creating their claymations, but WERE supposed to zoom back with their cameras so that I had a bounding box to crop to later when editing their photos.  (Notice that I say "supposed to"...)  Also note that students needs a quick camera lesson to keep their cameras at a consistent angle and to not block light causing shadows all over their work.  What was great was that most of our kids have camera phones, so it is a great use of current technology in the classroom.  The downside of this is that not all phones can connect properly to upload the photos to my computer (or did not have SIM cards).  Some students had to send photos via email, and that got crazy when I started receiving hundreds of emails with 2-3 photos each.  

One of the exciting things about this is that the claymation/picture taking process actually goes surprisingly fast (I thought it would take FOR-E-VER!) and the students are incredibly focused while creating.  Also, many students surprised me with how creative they were when adding little extras into their work to show their personality.  

The End:  Once I had all the students' photos, I cropped them all to the box using iPhoto, since that is where all the photos get uploaded to, and it's much easier and quicker to crop and do small adjustments using iPhoto than opening each photo into Photoshop.  For any big fixes, I adjusted in Photoshop.  Then, I relabeled each photo as a letter and number (octopus:  o1, o2, o3, etc.), and organized per folder so that when I imported them into iMovie, they would stay in the correct order.  Once in iMovie, I created a new project, made sure each photo had Crop to Fit (not Ken Burns), and changed the speed of each to .01 second (except for the beginning and last photo of each letter- I had those on for 1 full second).  Added transitions and music and WHALA!  

Time consuming for the teacher:  I tried to get a student to do all the photoshop photo editing (cropping, straightening, levels/exposure, clone to erase the bounding box that still showed up in some students' pieces), and then also to put everything into iMovie.  That would have been amazing.  However, because it was the end of the year, and the school schedule was a bit wonky from the strike, the student who was going to do that became very busy with senior-itis and other more exciting graduation activities.  

Here is the finished product!  ENJOY!

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