Explanimations in the Classroom A Robert Bourgeois Learning Journal

Final Thoughts

I signed up for this class to get some basic grounding in After Effects as I have never previously used the software. Although I know you can do a lot more with it when working with video, this was a good start. It also helped me come up with a plan for the new unit on animation that was just added to my curriculum. Between this EdEx course and the one on Character Design, I have decided to teach animation as follows:

  1. Go over a brief overview and history of animation
  2. Have students create a simple frame-by-frame stop action animation using Spark Video
  3. Have students work with tweening in After Effects
  4. Have students examine motion capture using Character Animator

Prior to these two courses, I probably would have stopped at frame-by-frame and had them pull it all together in Premiere or Windows MovieMaker (ugh).

With regard to the content of explanimations, I love it! I've started noticing all the little explanimations that surround us in the media, especially through commercials. I can see using this technique to create simple animations explaining various topics in my curriculum and will be making more in the future. It will also comprise the main topic of my tween assignment for the students. So, I got quite a bit out of this course! I now look forward to exploring After Effects on a much deeper level in the future!

Class 2 - Change of Plans

Over the past couple of weeks, I have mainly focused my attention on another Adobe EdEx course: Character Design and Animation for Educators, which closes this Friday. In doing so, I temporarily put completing the work for this course on hold. But, with the end of the other course coming up, I am ready to begin working on this course again. However, I have decided to make a change in my final explanimation. Originally, I wanted to do something fun with Star Wars. While this would appeal to me, I have decided to change the topic to something more informational. There are a couple of reasons for making this change:

  1. For starters, Star Wars is owned by Disney. As we all know, Disney just loves to bring down copyright lawsuits against educators for using their images. So, I thought it best to pick a different topic.
  2. And secondly, after working with "live" images in Character Animator, I felt that creating something using mainly inanimate objects would work better in After Effects. Frankly, I couldn't figure out how I would realistically animate the Star Wars characters without recreating them as they were not made in pieces!
  3. Also, it's supposed to explain something and I felt changing topics would help me see how I can use this in my classroom more than the fun I might have with making a humorous piece.

Since it is summertime, hummingbirds are all over the place, I felt people might benefit from learning how to make their own, inexpensive hummingbird nectar instead of buying it in the store. Especially since it is one of the easiest things you can do to help birds and hummingbirds need a huge amount of nectar to stay alive. Buying refill nectar can get quite expensive and you probably have everything you need right in your home: sugar and water!

Making this change brought me all the way back to creating/finding new graphics for the animation. So, back to vecteezy I went where I found a couple of vector graphics to potentially use: a hummingbird, a stove, a spoon and boiling water. I also realized I would need to make some of my own as well: a measuring cup, sugar and a hummingbird feeder. So, I got to work on the graphics in Illustrator. Here are my new graphics for the explanimation:

Once I had the graphics ready, it was time to get to work on the explanimation itself. I started with a simply storyboard:

Making Hummingbird Food Storyboard

I knew I probably wouldn't follow it exactly, but it provided a guide for me to shoot for! With the basics in place, I got to work on making the animation.

While the process is simple, it was definitely time consuming! Images were brought into After Effects and placed in order along the timeline. Then I added text to describe the steps of how to make hummingbird nectar. There was a lot of trial and error involved getting the timing right. After finishing everything, I decided it was moving too slowly and adjusted everything again until I was happy with the pace. Finally, I went to bensound.com, one of my favorite sites for royalty free music, and found a light-hearted tune to use as background music. Here is my finished animation:

Class 1 - These are the droids we're looking for

I can fully appreciate how using animation helps students better remember and understand information being presented. But...it is summer time. And, I am exploring this for fun at the moment. So, I found a couple of vector graphics on Vecteezy for Star Wars characters, pulled out and recolored the ones I wanted to use and then had to draw an X-34 landspeeder myself. Doing this gave me a lot of practice with Illustrator and its various tools.

So, you might be wondering why I am working on graphics centered around one of my favorite movies. My plan for this course's assignments is a simple training video. I believe the Republic's Stormtroopers need some updated instruction on how to handle Jedi when they are encountered as well as a better understanding of how to identify the droids they are looking for. I'm not sure if I will be able to pull this plan off, but I am definitely going to try! Below are the recolored Creative Commons vector graphics as well as my landspeeder.

Created using image as template
Free Vectors via Vecteezy.com

Of course, I would like to use this for lessons once I get more practice. But for now, I'm going to have a little fun while I explore the techniques I learn in this course!


Created with images by Daniel Cheung - "Stormtrooper walking on sand"

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