Xtranormal is another site that gives you the chance to make animated cartoon videos for free. In comparison to the other options I have already blogged about, it is more like GoAnimate than Dvolver, in that you are much more of a director than you are with Dvolver, giving you lots of characters and options to be more in control of your animation. It is simple enough to use with some practice and at the end of the day, if you see the use of animations being useful for your teaching or for your pupils to adapt the language, then it will be a good option. Really, it only depends if you prefer GoAnimate or Xtranormal as to which one you use perhaps. Actually, at some point in a future blog, I may compare the two, as well as other similar tools offering similar services for ease of reference. Perhaps people might like to suggest some categories worth comparing? (Comment below!)
To use Xtranormal go to the webpage, http://www.xtranormal.com, and then register for free. As with various other sites, you can get enough out of the site without having to pay for the full licence that gives you more options and a greater range of characters, backgrounds etc. When you are registered, you will be directed to your ‘home’ and from there click on ‘Create’. The following screen below will be displayed.
As you can see below, there are a lot of character sets to choose from!
Once you have finally picked which characters you will use, you then have some further choices to make as to which, Sets, Actors, Sounds and Story you will use.
The sets option will allow you to pick a background or location for the story, the actors will be the main characters for thje action (you will be limited to start with as to who you can pick – to have more options you will have to upgrade your account – up to you of course if you need more characters), the sounds will allow you to have some atmosphere, sound effects or musical accompaniments to the action, and then you get to ‘Story’ which is the key element for you action.
You will see that you basically type into the box to allow the character to speak those words, and then drag various movements and actions from the left hand tool bar to add more realism and action to the scene. You can have camera movements, characters performing a variety of actions such as clenching fists, blowing kisses and ironic clapping amongst many others, having different emotive facial expressions and having basic interactions with the other character. Really it is best to explore the various options available, and use these to add to your dialogues to make the video more interesting. There should be plenty to give you or your pupils what you need for your films.
In terms of adding more speech boxes, you need to click the ‘+’ icon in the text boxes that will give you three options, either using a text bubble, uploading or recording your voice or adding a title bubble. The recording your voice option will obviously give your pupils the chance to practise their speaking and listening skills (it’s great how pupils will re-record themselves several times to get it right, thereby practising the language more than they would usually) or their writing and reading skills if you elect the text bubble option.
As you go along, you can click on the preview button to see how your video is coming along, and then go back and edit or change anything that you don’t like. When you are finished, click on ‘Save’ and then ‘Publish’ which will allow you to give your film a title, description and some tags to help people find it. It may take a few minutes for your film to be rendered which is worth bearing in mind if you want to show films made in class – allow time at the end of the lesson for this!
The completed video can be embedded or shared via a variety of mediums. To embed, click on ’embed the Xtranormal player’ on the right hand side of the video, under the video URL, choose a size for the video and copy the embed code. Then paste it into your blog or website, wherever you choose to use it. It can also be used on Posterous, something I intend to use a great deal this Academic Year. If you use Posterous, just put the embed code into the body of the email that you send to Posterous, and it will automatically come up! Fantastically easy! This could be the best way of your pupils sharing their own videos with the class if you have allowed them to become contributors to your Posterous space.
So, that’s it in a nutshell. Again, the best thing to do is explore and experiment. If you have any questions, please do comment and ask.
Here are some other links worth checking out about using Xtranormal in the classroom