Tag Archives: film

app review of Stop Motion Studio for iPad

I came across the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Stories on Screen competition and forwarded the details to the Early Years Leading Teacher, also the early years ICT leader. She expressed an interest in participating this year with the younger students creating stop-motion animations  inspired by children’s books.

In the past couple of years the school has been purchasing iPads to be used at school. At this stage, the younger years are using the iPads and grade five/six students have helped with reviewing some apps for education. However, they havent been satisfied with any of the stop motion apps. As a consequence I decided to investigate apps for iPads with a focus on creating animations and films. I located a few stopmotion apps and identified Stop Motion Studio to investigate along with the iMovie app.

The aim was to determine:

  1. Key features of the app and how to use it.
  2. How easy the app was to use by younger children

In this activity I downloaded Stop Motion Studio, iMovie and Extras4iMovie to my iPad. I then asked two children (my daughters) if they would like to create animations with paper cut-outs. They were both very keen on the idea of creating animations. The process of planning and animating happened over a weekend. My involvement in their planning stage was minimal. Basically they showed me their cut-outs and asked me what I thought. Sometimes I suggested some more elements may be needed.

On the second day, my involvement was geared towards setting up the iPad to capture the stop motion clips. We did not have a iPad mount to firmly position the iPad to a tripod. Consequently, gaffer tape was used to hold the iPad in place on top of a silver case, on top of a table. The paper elements were on a black cloth on the floor. Little LED lights provided the lighting source.

Once this was set up, each child continued without any assistance. They were able to work out how to use the app without many instructions and even taught me some of the features such as the scrolling back and forth to see the overlay of the animation image.

The animation process took a while involving constant movement between the iPad to shoot frames and the paper elements to change them as part of the frame by frame capture process. They completed the animation with Stop Motion Studio but are yet to edit the final animations in iMovie. They photographed close ups of elements that will need to be edited into the the animation along with the final sound and titles sequence.

During the process, I documented with my iPhone by filming and photographing. I then edited the documented photos and clips with the animations the children made using the iMovie app on an iPad. The titles were created with Extras4iMovie. This video forms the app review that was exported to Youtube and subsequently embedded in this post. By creating this video I was able to test the iMovie app in the process.

This week I will be sharing this review with the school in support of the initiative to use iPads to create animations and films for the CBCA competition and for future projects. Being able to identify the information, curriculum and technology needs is an incredibly important function of a librarian in a school. With this activity, I have been able to provide curriculum resource ideas and support with technology to enable successful outcomes. By working with the children to assess ease of use, I am focussing the needs to the target group and this is very important.

What I learnt is that you definitely need an iPad mount to enable an effective and steady support for the iPad. This will make filming and animation easier. I discovered the app is a fantastic app for the targeted age group and feel confident in transferring these ideas to the teaching and learning community. In working with children to assess the app, it is much easier to demonstrate the ease of use by the target audience.

The next stage involves working through the editing process with the iMovie app and assessing how easy post-production is for the target audience.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Audiovisual Archives

Visit the National Film and Sound Archive or for more information on collections Australian Screen or Australian Screen Online. Another resource of audiovisual archives can be accessed via ACMI.

BREAKING NEWS: National Archives Australia wins Unesco Preservation Award

National Archives of Australia to receive UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize

Click here for National Archives Australia.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cane Toads

Years ago, while studying film, I stumbled upon the incredibly funny documentary Cane Toads: an unnatural history by Mark Lewis.

Here is a clip from youtube from the film

For those who have not viewed the film, I highly recommend it!

This week I was delighted to discover that the same filmmaker has revisited the cane toad and completed a follow up. I have not seen it yet but I am definitely curious…

visit canetoads the conquest for more information. Sometimes documentaries provide a great insight into experimentation and creativity.


Tags: , , , ,

Experimenting to locate literacy

Eight years ago, while completing my DipEd, another student and I negotiated an alternative task for assessment for one of our English Method tasks. We were looking at literacy and the changing nature of this as a concept. We chose an experimental video as our task as we wanted to experiment with what enables meaning and what disables or jars meaning in our presentation. I’m the one behind the camera! This video was part of the IFTE conference that took place in Melbourne 2003.

It doesn’t surprise me, so many years later, concepts of literacy are still being debated. this is the current focus in my librarianship course.  More specifically our focus is information literacy.

Concepts pertaining to literacy include, information literacy, digital literacy, multiliteracy, transliteracy, critical literacy, media literacy and so forth.

I am going to end this post with a few quotes I have found that relate to literacy in education.

Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship.
~ Kofi Annan

It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.
— Alec Bourne

We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn
Peter F. Drucker

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.
~ Kofi Annan

Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death
Albert Einstein

Only the educated are free.
— Epictetus

Just food for thought before I embark on the exploration of Information Literacy in my next post.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Project Based Learning

I have just read the Boss & Krauss (2008) article and would like to share a classroom experience of mine a few years back when I first started teaching. Firstly, I have a Drama/Media/English teaching background and prior to teaching I worked in youth theatres and led workshops in film production and theatre with youth. The youth I worked with, both in my arts background and in teaching, have almost always been from what people term ‘disadvantaged’ (although, I am not so sure this is the term we continue to use today) backgrounds and often not engaged in learning.

When I started teaching media at a high school I introduced to my year 10 students a project alongside the curriculum already in place, therefore it did involve more work. This project was to create a documentary that would be part of a film festival for schools in the western metropolitan region. The whole class worked together as the producers/creators of this documentary. Shortly after we started, a terrible bullying incident happened at the school that shocked a great deal of the school community. This affected the ‘filmmakers’ in my class strongly enough to want to focus the documentary on the issue of bullying. The engagement in the process of creating this documentary was fantastic. There was some direct instruction in the film-making process, such as planning, research, filmic language, camera techniques, story-boarding, interviewing techniques, lighting and editing. In the scheme of the project this direct instruction seemed minimal compared to the actual process of working on the documentary. Students beyond the classroom were involved as extras, as students who were willing to share their stories in the documentary and as actors who reenacted scenes that students talked about.

The class learned about documentary as a form and were able to apply their learning as a result. Assessment was easy as it included various stages such as planning, process and final product as well as skills and attributes displayed by students. The assessment was certainly formative but achieving an end product also contributes to a summative assessment that is formed through a combination of the various tasks.

I know that this project was part of a media subject but I have also carried out a similar process in the English classroom through units focusing on radio plays or radio documentaries for example, and I have found it successful here also. I can certainly see how a class blog can work in writing a novel for instance, if that is what a teacher would like to explore with a group. Beyond this I managed to find a librarian blog recently (although, I can’t locate it right now) that had a wonderful feature for students to be able to contribute their stories to the library blog and this felt like such an exciting opportunity for student involvement in the library blog.

Even though I am comfortable with technology, and have studied film-making in the past, twenty years ago when I first was making films the technology was different and today that technology is not so relevant. Over time, I have had to adapt to new technologies, keep up, and maintain  the willingness to learn new things and, I suppose, accept that technology always changes. This last point has helped the most. No doubt, I am sure there are many who can share stories about not knowing how to use something and a student was able to show you how. I know this has happened to me many times.

As a summation of this post
1. Project based learning works for all from all backgrounds and can prove meaningful and most importantly remembered later in life. At the film festival, I know the students felt like ‘stars’ and were very proud of their efforts. The school now has this student-made documentary on ‘bullying’ that can be accessed and utilised as a starting point for further discussion. Further to this, the process although initiated by myself, had the overarching feeling of being student-led and this was important to the sense of achievement felt by the students.

2. technology is constantly changing and my ability to adapt and learn new things is more important than the technology itself. For example I, like many in my teacher librarian course, only learned to blog because of this subject. Yet, I am excited about the possibilities it can bring to the educational environment and even the creative possibilities that many may come up with as a result of learning to blog.

In considering how this applies to my role as the Teacher-librarian in any school setting, I suppose it links in closely with the idea of leading in curriculum and bringing these ideas to the school. Like the media class, it will involve some instruction but, the process should win out in the end and that is what ends up leading in the curriculum.

Another student in my course  mentioned ‘brekkie with a tekkie‘ (click on the link it is great). Maybe as the Teacher-librarian I may initiate ‘brekkie with the Teacher-Librarian’ as a way of sharing and demonstrating ideas. Working in a school will make me accessible for more collaboration hopefully.

The video following raises some of the issues confronted when thinking about education and transformation for the 21 century. It is within this context that Project based learning takes form.

Technology is not so relevant on its own and just adding technology to our repertoire of skills wont necessarily enhance teaching and learning. It is how we utilise technology as a tool to meet an end that makes a difference. Thinking deeply about the technological tools we have at our disposal and how they can contribute to meaningful learning and take education to the next level where creativity and problem solving is enhanced is the key.

Boss, S. & Krauss, J. (2008) Reinventing ProjectBased Learning: your field guide to real-world projects in the digital age. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Celebrating Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan Website

Visit Shaun Tan Website

I absolutely adore Shaun Tan and have been extremely excited about his recent successes. On the back of his Oscar win for the short animation based on his book The Lost Thing,  he has just been awarded the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize. The second Australian to be awarded this prestigious prize in the last five years, the other being Sonya Hartnett. A Shaun Tan book is wonderful and appeals to all ages.

In 2004, The Lost Thing was a stimulus for the year 12 VCE unit 4 Drama curriculum and teaching this unit at the time was wonderful. This stimilus was one of my favourite of the ten provided. below is an example of how inspiring Shaun Tan books are for performing arts.

The Arrival as a performance for The Sydney Festival 2010

However, there is nothing like a Shaun Tan book in your hands and a quiet spot to peruse the detail of each page at your own time. Sheer Delight!

Don’t forget on Sunday 3rd April at 4.45 pm his Oscar winning animation will be screening on Australian ABC television.

Celebrate Shaun Tan!


Tags: , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: