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Digital Stop Motion Animation Tips and Tricks


Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

We all want our students to master technology tools and use them to create original works. Stop Motion STEM challenges are designed to allow students to explore presentation software while creating something using the steps of the engineering design process. 

The best part is that nearly every topic and subject area can be incorporated into these challenges, so they can be used as a part of your daily academic activities, not as an extra thing to fit into your schedule. 

What is Digital Stop Motion?

Stop motion is typically done with physical objects and a camera. Instead of getting out all of those materials, we can do it digitally. 

Using either Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint, students work in teams to animate a story across multiple slides and devices. 

This will require them to problem solve their way through the design process. Bonus points if you have them document their process and reflect on it at the end!

Standards Addressed with Stop Motion

ISTE Standards:

  • Innovative Designer: 4d
  • Creative Communicator: 6b
  • Global Collaborator: 7c (if working in groups)

Tips for Teachers:

Introduce students to the idea of producing an animated GIF or video using Google Slides or PowerPoint. 
They may have heard of the Red Ball Challenge and there are some great videos on YouTube demonstrating it, but I also recommend showing some of the very early cartoon animations by Walt Disney if you can. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvwa2Kgzc the first minute shows how animation works but the whole video is great.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhfp6Z8z1cI how animation works - maybe skip the section about the women workers, it isn't PC. 

Vocabulary to Introduce:

  • Animation
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Frame
  • Frame Rate
  • Scene
  • Script
  • Stop Motion
  • Storyboard
Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

Student Introduction and Tips:
Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

Stop Motion is a way of animating a story. The object on the screen is moved a tiny bit each time (on each slide) so that when you play the presentation, it looks like the object is moving as though in a movie. 

Once you have the scene drawn, the computer makes it possible to duplicate the slide, so you don't have to draw every movement by hand. A major time saver! 

All you do is duplicate the scene (slide) and move one thing. Then do that again like 50 times or more, making one small movement each time, and your end result will look like an animation!
I know 50+ times sounds like a lot, but it goes quickly once you get the hang of it. 

After completing all of the slides in the stop motion animation, you may want to share it with others. A great way to do this is to publish the slide show with custom timings so that it starts and stops automatically. This isn't technically a video, but it will show the entire stop motion animation. 

Make your process easier with these tips:
  1. Use the edges of the slides to begin and end your animation
  2. Duplicate slides
  3. Make small, equal movements by using the arrow keys
  4. Layer objects in the scene
  5. Use transparency options
  6. Use text to tell a story across multiple slides
  7. Group objects to move them together
  8. Don't forget ctrl+z= undo
The secret to working across multiple devices:
If you've heard of the Red Ball Challenge, you might be excited to try creating a stop motion animation that appears to move from one device to the next. 

The key is actually really simple: blank slides

That's right! The devices all actually have exactly the same number of slides so that they start and stop at the same time. 
To make it look like the animation is moving across devices, simple calculate how many blank slides need to play on each device before and after it's "your turn."

Example for a 150 slide animation:
Device 1: 25 animation slides, 125 blank slides
Device 2: 25 blank slides, 25 animation slides, 100 blank slides
Device 3: 50 blank slides, 25 animation slides, 75 blank slides
Etc. for the rest of the devices.

There you have it! The whole process of digital stop motion animation. 

Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

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Brittany Washburn
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