Archive for the ‘Animations’ Category

So, this is the first blog entry I have done so far on a specific iPad app. I think several tools I have talked about now have iPad apps (such as Fotobabble, Popplet, Diigo etc) but Morfo is specifically for the iPad and iPhone. I have to say to start with that I have yet to use many apps actively in the classroom for anything apart from presentation  as part of the lesson since my school does not have a class set of iPads for instance as I know some schools do. Some pupils I teach do have them and I have suggested several apps for them to use and I hope they do for homework and so on. I have also used some iPad apps for adding to my department VLE and for my own work.

Morfo is a free app that can be used to take a photo and then this photo can be adapted and voices recorded onto it. You can have a look at the Morfo website here: Morfo website. With the photo you take you can make the person into various animals, superheroes, carnival characters, or into various musical styles such as disco glam, goth rock and the 60s. The end creation will also dance around amusingly!

This app is probably best used with young language learners, to help them forget any nerves they have with speaking the language and enjoy making themselves or their friends look silly or funny with the different disguises that the app offers. They can either read something they have prepared, or speak off the cuff in the target language. Topics that suggest themselves immediately for this app are personal descriptions (either what they actually look like, or what they end up looking like having been ‘dressed up’ by the app, but any type of speaking presentation can be done.

Creating a Morfo is very easy. Once you have downloaded the app from the appstore, open the application. To begin with click ‘Create a New Face’ and then either choose a photo that you have already taken or click the ‘Touch here to take a picture’ button. Either way, once you have chosen a picture, you will then have to fit the photo into the Morfo frame. Adjust the head, eyes, nose and mouth appropriately so that they fit over the photo’s head, eyes, nose and mouth. You can also adapt the light of the photo if needs be. Having then clicked ‘Finish’ you will then see your photo with the frame in place. At the bottom you have the following options: Record (click hear to record a voice onto the frame), Makeup (this is where to go to add the disguise / mask, and is probably your first stop), Morf (change the face shape to fatter, elf or hero), Dance (makes the frame headbang to a choice of music) or Share (email, facebook or save the video / picture). I will generally start with clicking ‘Makeup’, then I will click ‘Costumes’ to choose from the various mask options, and then click ‘Costume’ to flick between the various masks for that genre of costume. This is probably where the time wasting will take place in the classroom!

Having picked a suitably amusing disguise, then click ‘Record’ Click the red start button to start the recording and again to finish. You do no have an unlimited time to record (half a minute or a minute I think), so ensure your pupils know this and are prepared. The chances are that they will want to record two or three or more times until they have perfected their speech, which is obviously excellent for grooving in the target language.

Having stopped the recording, you can then listen to it by clicking ‘Play’ or ‘Share’ it. This is what you will want your pupils to do so you can see and listen to their work. I would click ‘Email a Video’ and then your video will be automatically saved and then you can send it as an MP4 file.

So Morfo is a free and fun way of getting pupils to speak the target language. You could also create homework tasks for your pupils by sending them a video of you telling them what their homework is, use it as an introduction to topics perhaps, or maybe even use it as a pronunciation guide. The finished products could also be used as a listening exercise.

Useful links to help you with using Morfo.

How to use Morfo YouTube video

Morfo forum

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

http://joedale.typepad.com/integrating_ict_into_the_/2010/01/making-your-xtranormal-mfl-lessons-work.html

http://www.slideshare.net/digitalmaverick/how-to-use-xtranormal

http://www.boxoftricks.net/2009/11/xtranormal-in-the-classroom/

 

It’s been a while since I blogged. The end of term and my time at my last school and all it brought with it took up a lot of time and although I am beginning to get ready for my move to Worcestershire and am starting to be surrounded by boxes, I’ve decided to get back to the blog.

Today I’m going to introduce Toondoo, which is another option for those teachers who, like me, are fans of cartoons and comics and see how they can be used in the classroom. I have already blogged about various other options to make cartoons, (see my blog entries about Chogger, Make Beliefs Comix, Stripgenerator and Witty Comics and visit their pages to have a look at the various differences) and I’m not going to talk here about how comics can be used as I have discussed this already. All I will say is that it is a novel way to practice writing and reading skills rather than doing your standard writing in an exercise book or reading from a textbook.

Toondoo is another free site to join and use although you can pay to get certain extra features such as high resolution images. Toondoo offers a wide package of facilities including the ability to make books as well as comic strips. It also gives you the option to create your own doodles and pictures to add a personal touch to your comic and feels quite like Go Animate for cartoons in a way. There are certainly more options to Toondoo than the other comic strips creation tool sites that I have already blogged about, but this means that it could take longer to get used to using the various options and feel like you have mastered the comic creation process!

Once you have clicked on the ‘Sign up for free’ button at the top of the page and registered, you are ready to go. The image above will give you an idea of what you will have in front of you, and the options you have. If you click on either Toons or Books you will see ‘Create Toon’ or ‘Create Book’ which will probably be your first option unless you want to explore the kind of cartoons you can make with the search facility. Click on ‘Create toon’ to start with and the first thing you will have to decide on is the layout of your strip as seen below.

Having clicked on one of these options, you will then have a dashboard much like the GoAnimate or Domo Animate dashboards if you are familiar with these movie and comic creation sites. It will look like the image below:

The buttons on the left hand side of the dashboard (from top to bottom) will allow you to choose your characters, backgrounds, props, speech bubble options, brushmen (random other images), specials, ClipArt images and then other images that you have uploaded from your own gallery. Let’s start with characters – if you put your cursor over this button you will have a variety of options of different characters. grouped in various different categories (Men, Women, KIds, Animals/Birds, Sports etc) and they will have the same character in different poses which helps add range to your comic. Once you have found a character you like, click and drag into the panel where you want to put it. You also have a range of tools at the bottom of the dashboard which you can click on to adapt a selected image, for example changing its size, way it is facing, its position in relation to another object etc.

To add a background, hover over the background icon and drag the one you like into the relevant panel. The same process goes with objects and is similar with speech bubbles. The only difference with speech bubbles is that you just type your words into the bubble having elected the type of bubble you want. It is a very easy process, and you can delete mistakes simply by selecting the offending image and clicking delete on your keyboard. The best thing to do is just play around with it, but I haven’t found many problems with it nd when I showcased it in a lesson, the kids quickly caught on to how to use it and had no difficulties.

When you have finished, go to the top left hand icon and hover over the ‘Toondoo Start here icon’, and click Save. Give your cartoon a title and description and decide if you are going to make it public or private. You can also email it directly to those you want to send it to, perhaps the best way for your pupils to send you completed efforts that they have done. Click publish when you are done and then you can either see it (go to page) or print it out. Here is one I made as I was learning how to use Toondoo.

A bit silly, but nevermind! To find all your previous creations, go to the Toon menu at the homepage and click on ‘My Toons’ where you can still edit your toon if you need to.

For more questions or to get a more in depth view of how to use toondoo, you can go to this link for the Toondoo wiki.

Here are some other useful links:

Teachers’ guide

Slideshare How to use toondoo

More detailed step by step guide

Toondoo cartoon on how to use toondoo!

Please let me know if you have a go and sign up for Toondoo. Perhaps we can exchange links to cartoons.

 

I have already done several posts about sites that make cartoons, movies or videos (and there will be more!) Domo Animate is another one of these, coming from the same family as GoAnimate, which I have already blogged about (see the archives). I do like cartoons and animations, both for productive and receptive Spanish. I feel that it is particularly important to vary your productive Spanish tasks, as doing the same old ‘write a letter, write a description, write an essay’ task gets boring for pupils and anything different, creative and fun can stimulate pupils into producing better work. This was very much the case with a prep I set my 4th form (year 10s) this week, describing car crashes. I got some nice videos back from GoAnimate and Dvolver, having given them the choice of these and Chogger. I really only gave them three options in case one or two of them didn’t work! You never know with our school computer system!!

Domo Animate works in the same way as Go Animate if you are familiar with this tool. It has a slightly more amateurish feel possibly, though this in no way detracts from the finished product. It feels slightly more old school cartoony, rather than the slightly more modern feel of the characters and scenarios in most of the GoAnimate scenes. Having signed up (free, naturally), go to Create Animation and then you have a couple of options. There is a slideshow option or the Domo Animation studio option. For both there are tutorial videos which are well worth watching to get a feel for how to get started and make the most out of the program. If you want to have a look directly, just click on this link. (there is an annoying advert before the tutorial vids). Below is the options screen for which type of animation to create.

Using the slideshow option might be a good way of getting pupils to do a presentation in which they narrate a series of events based on the pictures that they have uploaded, and a good way to practise link phrases and speaking generally. However, there are other slideshow tools out there, and you of course can generally do this from your media viewer, but it may be worth trying out with pupils, particularly if you have maybe downloaded a load of random pictures. What could be quite fun is to upload some random pictures from the internet on a topic to revise, but without the pupils knowing what they are. They then have to think on their feet and describe what they see, maybe scoring points for describing lots of things on the screen.

The more creative option is to click on the Domo Animation Studio create button, as this gives you the chance to exercise those film director tendencies inspired by the latest Aardman or Pixar productions!. Once you have clicked ‘Create’ you will see the ‘studio’ below.

The scene on the right hand side is your canvas as it were, and on the left hand side you have the various tools, characters, backgrounds, objects and effect buttons that you use to create the show. The bottom shows you the different ‘stills’ or separate scenes that make up your animated movie. On the left hand side you have buttons for characters (the egg type icon button), the type of speech bubble you want to employ for the characters’ dialogue, backgrounds (the scenery type icon button), objects (the tree icon button), music and other random animation effects. By clicking on these, you see which options you have to use in your movie.

If we start with characters, pick a character you like from the decent selection of oddballs (I have a preference for the monsters and animals!) and click on one you like. Your character then appears on your canvas, and you can then moev him around by clicking and draggin, resize, by adjusting the picture dimensions in the same way as Office Publisher, and change the way the character faces by using the arrow buttons above the character when selected, or whether it goes infront or behind another object. Below, you can the see the first stage of my video, having set a scary type background and with a monster selected.

You can add various characters onto the canvas, as you can again see below, and give them things to say by clicking the speech bubble button, moving the speech bubble to where you want it (including moving the orientation of it) and then typing into the bubble. Fonts can be adapted too, and the size will automatically adapt to fit the text into the bubble. Here is the scene with another character added and some speech bubbles.

You can then add things as you want. I then clicked on the music button to add some dramatic tension music. The music lasts throughout the video, so there is no need to add it into each different scene. When you are happy with one scene click on the clapperboards in the bottom right hand corner below to either add a new scene, or delete a previous one. The characters will be left in the same places ready for you to carry on the conversation, or move them someplace else. When characters are selected, you will see you have the option to make them move and do actions, adding to the events and excitement. It all works the same way as GoAnimate if you have already tried this, but without the speaking aloud or uploading recorded speech option.  Go about the scene creation in the same way as before, adding scenes where you want to. It is fun to play around and see what all your options are, and also useful to know how it all works before you unleash your pupils on the tool to have a go!

When you are done, click ‘Preview’ to have a look at your masterpiece. If you are happy with it, click save. If not you can always go back to edit, adapt, or add or delete more scenes. Having clicked save, you then have to give the video a title, tags, short description and choose it’s language. You can then either save it, or share with friends or pupils. See the screenshot below.

If you click Save and Share you can then choose to email it to your friends or class, or get an embed code for a blog, wiki or Posterous (which I will blog about when I have worked it out fully! This may be the best way to save class material for everyone to see).  I’ve embedded my very short video on Posterous if you want to have a look. (http://pedroelprofesor.posterous.com/domo-animate-trial). Or you can click on the following link: http://domo.goanimate.com/go/movie/0NqL6jaS7d4U?utm_source=emailshare&uid=0GIJlU_3sETw

Domo Animate takes a little time to produce, but is great fun and the results are excellent. You will need to tutor your class yo use it which might take a certain period of your lesson, but it is worth it! Enjoy!

Dvolver is a nice little tool, if a little limited in its usefulness. It is a tool to create a short ‘movie’ though more like an animated cartoon. The language that will be used will be produced in the form of speech bubbles, so it will more be useful as a way of practising reading and writing, rather than speaking and listening. In this way it compares to the comic strip creators that I have blogged about already, rather than the animation creators like GoAnimate. It is quick and easy though so may be most relevant for beginners in the language. A program like Domo Animate (yet to be blogged about) is a much more ambitious and flexible tool that does the same thing, but may take longer to get used to using.

To use Dvolver, go to the following URL http://www.dvolver.com/moviemaker/index.html and click Make a Movie. There is no need to sign up, login or register, which also means that it is harder to save your movie creations on the flip side, though movies can be emailed and embedded. Having clicked on Make a Movie, your futuristic looking control panel will come up. First you pick a background and sky by clicking on the icons that you like the look of, and then click next (bottom right). Then you choose the type of scene you want, either rendez-vous, pick up, chase or soliloquy (this will be how the characters interact and move around on the video). Having clicked next, you then choose your two characters who will star from the lists provided. The you add your dialogue. There are some limitations here which make Dvolver of limited usefulness, as you only have three lines per character, and are limited to 100 characters of text, hence why I said it would be best for beginners in the language. In the next panel you add your music soundtrack and then in your final panel you pick the way you want your title to appear. Then you can see your movie and can send it to the person you want to send it to by inputting their email. After you have sent it, you then have an embed code given to you, so videos can be saved onto a blog or webpage. It is worth asking pupils to send you this as well in case you want to make a page with all their creations.

Here you can see my quick movie made for you lucky people

http://www.dvolver.com/live/movies-715275

For this reason, I would use Dvolver as a tool for short written work and preps from students, and would ask them to email it to me. I can then show the pupils their movies in class through projecting the videos onto the whiteboard.

 

Stripgenerator is another comic strip creation tool. I’ve blogged about a couple of these already (see Chogger, Witty Comics and Make Beliefs Comix) and Stripgenerator works much the same as these. Basically, the main difference between them all is really the style of comic strip character and artwork that you want to produce. Stripgenerator has a fairly cool, alternative-type thing going which I quite like, and I would probably use this one more than Make Beliefs Comix perhaps, as it also gives you a variety of items to pick from as well as characters. I reckon boys particular would like the style of characters that Stripgenerator offers.

Signing up is as usual free, and little information is asked for apart from a username, email address and password. Signing up means you can hoard your comic creations in your gallery and use them whenever you want, rather than having to print them out immediately (or screencapturing them) as you need to do with Make Beliefs Comix. You can also find created comics by tags or description by using the search function. Completed comics can be embedded onto websites or emailed to pupils, the email option being good for pupils to send you their completed work without having to worry about printing problems (a common excuse at my school! – either paper is missing or printers are seemingly always broken!)

Creating the comic is easy. Just choose which character and items you want to use and drag them into the panels. You have a choice of how many panels you want to use, and the tools to adapt the images are very easy to use. Here is a rapid creation of mine that I made in about 5 minutes.

Quick and easy and cool looking as well. As I say, it is worth having a go with this comic creator as well as Chogger, Witty Comics and Make Beliefs (and probably others too!) to find out which you and your pupils most like and which is easiest to use for what you need.

Another little tool for helping make speaking a bit more fun is Blabberize. It is a little similar to Voki (see earlier post on this) but a bit more basic perhaps. Rather than creating your own avatar from a series of cartoony figures, the difference here is that you will upload a photo from your computer, draw a mouth that will then move around when you are speaking and then either record or upload a recording. It is a very simple tool to use, requiring little practise, simply follow the instructions on the page and press the relevant buttons, and you will end up with an amusing little photo speaking in your voice.

The uses for this should be fairlyobvious too. I actually haven’t used it with a class yet, but I think I will use it with my 3rd and 4th form groups and get them to make little recordings on topics we will cover in class. I think it will be a good way to do descriptions for example – pick a photo of someone famous and they can describe them. It is a good tool for readying pupils for presentations and so on as well

It is a free tool to use, but you will need to sign up in order to save your blabberized photos. After you have finished and saved the little video, pupils will need to copy and paste the URL that they have made and email it to you. Theoretically, you could then embed them onto a webpage and share them with the class and maybe use them as a listening exercise.