Our most recent maker programs featured stop motion animation, and the kids and teens made some excellent movies! If you’re not familiar with the concept of stop motion animation: you take a series of photographs and then combine them into a movie by showing the photos in rapid succession, to make inanimate objects appear to move. In between taking each photo, you move the objects slightly so that when they are played in sequence, the objects give the illusion of movement. The Wallace and Gromit movies are one of my favorite examples of this, and any book nerd will like The Joy of Books, made by Toronto bookstore Type Books. It’s easy to do at home once you get the hang of it and I know some of our patrons do it already (generally middle-school or high-school boys); making Lego stop motion movies is particularly popular.
World War II, the Real Story by 4th and 5th graders using Stop Motion Studio
There are a few ways to make stop motion movies and we experimented with two. Our first program was for 4th and 5th graders and they used the Stop Motion Studio app on our iPads. The app is free but to get all the features there is a $3.99 in-app purchase, which I would definitely recommend if you’re doing this program. The nice thing about the app is that everything is integrated and pretty easy to use. The kids take photos directly in the app, it’s easy to rearrange or delete images, and adding sounds, music, and credits is simple. The only downsides are that you have limited editing options and are limited to themes and music the app makes available. That said, it was great for this age group. In 75 minutes we explained stop motion animation, showed the kids the app and they completed their (short) movies.
A Magical Adventure with a Magical Unicorn made by 6th graders using iMovie
The older kids (grades 6+) used cameras and iMovie ’11 on our Mac Laptops. iMovie wasn’t intended for stop motion animation, so it has its own limitations (you have to import your photos into iPhoto first, and the photos may not move fast enough to create a smooth movie). But the trade-off is that it gives you a lot more options and flexibility in editing. Even though only one teen had used iMovie before, they all got the hang of it quickly. This session took about 1.5 hours from start to finish; iMovie takes a little longer than the app but this group was also more methodical and precise.
Yet again it was interesting to compare the two different age groups. The younger group jumped right in, started taking pictures and made up their stories as they went along. The older kids took their time storyboarding and seemed to figure out most of their plot before taking pictures. Both the app and iMovie worked well and we had requests to do this program again (one boy requested that we do it with Legos!), so maybe we’ll revisit stop motion animation again later this year.