Stop Motion Animator's basic controls allow students at almost any comfort level to create a simple animation. Because the tool is based on images rather than video, it allows students to manipulate props or characters easily in order to create a narrative. The inclusion of an audio track means students can demonstrate their learning both visually and verbally. In English-language arts (ELA), this might include using small dolls or models to act out parts of a story or novel that they've recently read. Or take the creative aspect up a notch and have kids create characters and objects from makerspace materials. For science or social studies, challenge students to create hand-drawn stop-motion animations to demonstrate their understanding of scientific concepts or historical events. Students could even be tasked with creating their own stories, incorporating vocabulary words into their skits to show how well they understand the definitions. Whichever activities they choose, teachers will want to set a time limit on the videos: If they're too lengthy, students may run into issues saving them.Continue reading Show less
Stop Motion Animator is a free, open-source Chrome extension that allows students to create simple animations using a front-facing webcam. The program has few features: Students can use it to take pictures, record audio, and load old videos. Capturing pictures is simple, and students can see the previous photo taken via the onion skin feature. This allows kids to make smoother animations and efficiently line up the changing movements. Students can save sequences of images and reload them in the editor to combine different sequences as well as adjust the image speed via a slider underneath the preview window.
The image features in the tool are more flexible than the audio tools. Students must record audio all at once, and they can't combine audio track sequences like they can for video sequences. Another drawback of this tool is the inability to edit the previous image frames taken. Although there's an undo button, students can only delete the most recent images in the reverse order that they were taken. There's no way to insert images into the middle of the photo sequences once they're in place. Plus, some students may find it difficult to take pictures with a webcam because they'll need to click the capture button but still keep their hands and arms out of the shot.
Creating projects that allow students to apply their knowledge to learning concepts is helpful in almost any subject area, especially when there's a short learning curve on creation tools. When it comes to Stop Motion Animator, simplicity is both helpful and harmful. Because there are few tools, it's easy to pick up the controls and start creating videos right away. However, the lack of features within the audio and video tools will likely frustrate some students. There's an option to add audio, but students can add only lone audio track per video, meaning that users must choose between music or narration. There's also no way to pause the recording when trying to add audio, so students must know what they plan to say ahead of time and record it correctly all the way through; this may be difficult when making longer videos on the platform. The lack of tools for adding or deleting individual frames in the middle of the video also means that students have less flexibility when creating their projects. Finally, kids might have trouble saving videos. For example, sometimes when a video is saved, it gets stuck on the first picture captured and doesn't include the rest of the images. While the extension's a good introduction to the world of stop-motion animation tools, there's a need for some updates and for more reliability to make this one effective for regular classroom use.
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