High Tech Tools: 3D Graphics, Animation, and Slide Shows
When people think of the words "high tech", they often describe 3D and animation technologies. Explore the Animation Telling Stories channel at Vimeo for examples.
You'll find many new tools that don't fit the traditional categories. For instance, use Glogster to create posters or Museum Box to create exhibits. Increasingly libraries are using public panels as a way to convey information. Explore the Darien Public Library Panel Channel.
Go to the Simple Machine Blog. Watch the animations produced through a collaboration between fourth graders and tenth graders. Also read the comments to see the interaction between the collaborators.
Watch the story of Danny & Annie. This animation combined audio from the Story Corps project with animation from Rauch Brothers. Explore more at Vimeo Story Corps. Think about the local history projects you could do in your community.
Whether creating a simple cartoon image or a complex reproduction of a building structure, 3D computer graphics can bring an image alive.
- Alice v2.0 - (free) an easy-to-use, non-programmer, 3D authoring system. Can be used by middle schoolers and adults alike. Provides a drag-and-drop editor and a textbook. Used to create VR worlds.
- Adobe: After Effects (commercial) - 2D and 3D motion graphic effects; high end
- Blender (free) - watch tutorials and basics at Vimeo.
- Google Sketchup (free). Provides a powerful tool for creating, viewing, and modifying 3d images. Check out the gallery.
- K-3D (free). 3D modeling
- Panda 3D (free). Create 3D animation used in Disney productions. Check out their animation gallery.
- Plant Studio (free). Create 3D plants.
- Tools for Young People
While some applications such as Adobe Flash take time to learn, others such as GoAnimate take only a few minutes. The key is selecting the software that best matches your need. Consider ways to combine images and audio elements. Also remember that you can incorporate photographs in addition to line drawing in many packages. Watch the GoAnimate example titled Linden Train Depot by Goat Queen on the right to see a mix of clipart and photographs. Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!
Explore the Story of Stuff for other examples of simple animation.
- Adobe: Flash - develop animation
- Adobe: Flash Player - players Flash files
- Adobe: Flex - web-based multimedia and interactivity
- Tools for Young People
- Ajax Animator - similar to Flash.
- Flextime Animate
- GoAnimate - free, easy tool for all ages; however many of the additional images and backgrounds now require a subscription. Check out Domo for younger users.
- Kerpoof - very easy and great for kids
- Xtranormal - create animations with audio
GIF animation is an easy and effective, yet somewhat dated way to create simple animations. A GIF animation is simply a series of still photos that create a slideshow, show steps in a process, or provides the illusion of movement. For example you could show a series of covers from Harry Potter books. There are hundreds of tools for making these animations. A few are listed below.
- AIM GIF construction - (Windows, trial available)
- Coffee Cup Animator - (Windows, trial available)
- Easy GIF Animator - (trial)
- GIFmation - (trial available)
- GIFWorks - easy online tool for creating animated GIFs.
In many cases, you'll combine software to create the desired effects. For example, check out Annette Griessman's Easy Animation tutorial that uses an open source drawing program called Inkscape with the inexpensive Corel Animation Shop.
A screencast is a recording of the computer screen often used for creating tutorials in most cases you can add audio narration.
- Adobe: Captivate - records all onscreen actions and instantly creates an interactive Flash simulation
- Camtasia Studio - (Windows, trial available) screen recorder and editor for Windows
- Jing - take a picture or short video of what you see on your computer monitor: very easy to use
- Screencastle - screen recording
- ScreenJelly - free, simple screencasting to produce 3 minutes recording. Can be used with Twitter.
- Screenr - free tool for making screencasts on your Mac or Windows
- ScreenToaster - free tool for online screen recording.
- SnagIt - (commercial, trial available) still screen capture
- Wink - (freeware) low-end screen recorder (Windows)
Multimedia and Slide Shows
You're probably familiar with tools such as PowerPoint for creating slides shows, however there are some great online tools to help you create slide shows too. You can use these to create slide shows, then embed them in your website.
- 280 Slides
- Animoto - analyzes your images, feels your music and customizes a video
- Blabberize - add audio to photos
- FlickrSlidr - make slide shows with your flickr images
- Flowgram - multimedia and storytelling tool
- Google Docs - look for the presentation tool
- Prezi - zooming presentation tool
- Roxio Online - PhotoShow
- SlideShare - easy and popular
- Soundslides (trial download) - easy to use
- Voicethread - add audio, video, images, chat features
Animation tools have evolved over the past decade. Most of today's animated movies and television programs were created using computer-based animations.
Objects. Most animation software packages provide tools for creating objects. These objects can then be reused in many different ways. For example, the basic 3D rectangle can be used to make houses, desks, and trains. The basic circle becomes a baseball cap, tire, or bouncing ball.
Movement. Like objects, tools for creating movement can be applied in many ways. For example, the same technique might be used to produce the waves of a corn field, flag, or water. There are many different kinds of animation.
- Frame-by-frame animation involves creating a separate visual for each step in the animation. This technique is time consuming, but can be effective in showing movement. It's popular, because it requires little technical skill. GIF animation is based on this technique.
- Tweening is a process of automating the creation of animation. You provide the beginning and ending points and visuals. Then, you let the software figure out the changes " in between." This might involve the movement of a single object from one place to another such as a hot air balloon rising (motion tweening). Or, you can morph one image into another image such as changing a person into an animal (shape tweening).
- Scripting is another way that animation is produced. Some software programs provide tools for writing your own computer code or commands that can be applied to an object for a particular action such as smling, laughing or clapping.
Read Animation from AIM Your Projects with Flash for more information about the types animation. If you want to learn more about animation, take a 1.5 hour graduate course called Flash from IUPUI-SLIS.
From showing how a submarine works to retelling a fairy tale, there are many applications of 3D graphics and animation in learning. The key is finding applications that require movement for understanding. For example, if you're teaching someone how to use a piece of computer software, animation can be used to take a learner through each screen of the program. Animation is a good choice for tutorials because the learner can see how the menus work and how the cursor moves around the screen.
Think about concepts that are difficult to learn such as science topics. Animation can be used to show now a seesaw or pendulum works. Consider projects that can't be done with video such as demonstrating how the layers of earth move during an earthquake or the movement of cancer cells in the body.
Go to Animoto in Education and explore some case studies for examples.
Increasingly, students are being asked to create projects that incorporate graphic, animation, and/or slide show aspects. Explore projects by journalism students such as Photojournalism Reporting Fall 2009 and Photojournalism Spring 2009.
Animation is an exciting way to promotion learning in libraries.
Watch Space Animation at the Needham Public Library from YouTube.
Explore some example VoiceThread projects:
- Color Poems
- Frank Lloyd Wright Report
- German Class
- Grandparent's Day
- Spanish Myths and Legends
- Spanish Scary Stories
Use of digital 3D and animation software match well with many of Howard Gardner's intelligences including logical/mathematics, visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic and musical/rhythimic.
Using GoAnimate, young people can create interesting animated slide shows on a wide range of topics using still and motion images, cartoons and photographs, speech bubbles, music, and movement. Check out The Bozeman Trail and Billy and Bobbi Learning Something New.
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