The Merry Tale of Robin Hood

October 28, 2010

This term a year 7/8 class from Talbot Specialist School have been working at the CLC to create their own animated version of the story of Robin Hood. The class worked really well together, taking it in turns to take the pictures on the computer, move the characters, and boss everyone about as director. They had built the set and characters before they came to the CLC – the set was good and robust, but the characters struggled to stand unaided, so we filmed from above, with everything laid flat.

Whilst some students were busy animating, others recorded the voiceover using our mp3 recorders, and once the animating was completed we sat together as a group to decide on titles, music and editing. We hope you enjoy the final film!

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How To: Green Screen for Schools

October 27, 2010

Green Screen, also known as Blue Screen or Chroma Keying, is a technique in video whereby you film your subject in front of a green or blue background and remove the blue/green colour to reveal another image behind. Most people know it best from weather forecasts – the forecaster isn’t actually standing in front of a weather map at all. It is used heavily in films and television programs too – see this link for an amazing video showing the potential of the technique.

How we’ve used it:

Students found it very motivating to use the green screen, as they could transport themselves anywhere they needed, for example play football at Bramall Lane, or play the guitar on stage at Wembley. We have found it particularly good for the students from the special schools we work with, as they can act out certain behaviours in a safe setting – for example crossing a road for a Green Cross Code video.

The Background

At the CLC we use a green screen (we decided on green as less people wear green than blue – anything the same colour as the background will also become transparent!) made up of a large green curtain on a curtain rail. You get best results with a very bright, vibrant green or blue colour, for example:

We also bought a Lastolite portable green screen with frame, which packs up small enough to take into schools. However, you don’t have to use a piece of cloth, it could be a wall painted blue or green with enough room for filming in front.

The Lighting and Other Considerations

You get the best results from an evenly lit background, as any difference in shade of colour will cause problems in the editing stage. If possible light the background and the subject separately, as this helps with crisp edges (and reduces the green halo effect). Try and avoid the subject casting shadows on the screen. Finally it is difficult to get a good result when there is a lot of movement; static scenes (e.g. news reports) work best.

The Editing

We use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit our green screen videos, but this is an expensive option for schools. There is a cheaper version, Adobe Premiere Elements, which costs around £60 for a single licence, and this still gives a good result:

  1. Drag your background image onto Video 1 track on timeline.
  2. Drag your green screen clip onto Video 2 track (i.e. above the background).
  3. Click on the Edit tab on the right and then Effects. Scroll down to find the Keying section and drag the Chroma Key effect to the green screen clip. (There is a specific Green Screen effect too, but the Chroma Key one is easier to tweak to get best result).
  4. Click on Edit Effect and open the Chroma Key effect (click on triangle).
  5. Click on the eyedropper icon then click on the preview screen to pick the most representative colour of the background (i.e. not too dark or light a shade).
  6. Use the Similarity and Blend sliders to get rid of any remaining background colour. I generally aim for Similarity between 15-30%, and Blend <20%.
  7. If there is a problem area in a corner (which never appears behind the subject), use the Eight-Point Garbage Matte effect. You can drag any of the 8 points to mask out areas you don’t want.

See below for a screen shot of Adobe Premiere Elements:

  • If you have access to a Mac, then iMovie has a Green Screen function:
    1. Click on iMovie > Preferences in the top menu bar, and tick the box next to Show Advanced Tools.
    2. Drag your background image or video onto the project area first.
    3. Now drag your green screen clip on top of the background image. In the menu that appears, choose Green Screen.
    4. The software does all the tricky stuff (like choosing the colour to remove) and gives a surprisingly good result.

    It is possible to chroma key video in Windows Movie Maker – see how to do it here. However the end result isn’t great unless you have a very well lit background, without too much variation in colour.

    Here is an example of  a music video, created using the Green Screen by year 6 pupils:


    TeachMeet NQT

    October 21, 2010

    Our CLC is hosting a TeachMeet on the 11th November, starting at 5.30pm. A TeachMeet is an informal conference for teachers, by teachers. Anyone who attends is welcome to give a presentation, relating to the use of technology in the classroom or for CPD. These presentations can be 2 minute nano presentations, or 7 minute micro presentations. This means that the evening moves at a good pace and planning a presentation isn’t too onerous. Above all the experience is supposed to be fun as well as informative.

    This TeachMeet has an NQT focus, with the aim of inspiring newly qualified teachers (and trainee teachers) in the use of ICT and providing them with resources and ideas for use in their own practice. However all teachers and educationalists are welcome to attend, whether from the Primary, Secondary, Further of Special sector. The evening also provides the opportunity to network and socialise with other teachers, and consume free food and drink!

    Currently there are presentations on the following subjects:

    • Joining a global staffroom for support and inspiration: Building your PLN
    • Putting the Interactive into IWBs
    • Using video in the music classroom
    • Multimedia Extravaganza in Y6
    • Using Microsoft Mouse Mischief to make PowerPoint presentations interactive – and fun
    • Organising your classroom for learning

    If you are interested in attending/presenting you can sign up at www.teachmeet.org.uk (scroll down to find the Sheffield logo), or e-mail me, Catherine Elliott, at celliott@ssclc.net.

    There is also a Page for the TeachMeet, which will contain links to some of the presentations and videos from the night. It can be found here.


    New Interactive Floor Projection

    October 7, 2010

    We recently bought a new bit of kit for the CLC, called OMi-Vista, from Om-Interactive. It comprises a projector, mounted in the ceiling of our Creative Space, attached to a computer with the software on it, and a piece of white vinyl on the floor – approximately 2 by 3 metres. There are around 200 ready-made activities on the computer, and students can interact with images on the floor using hands, feet or any part of their body that moves. The activities include:

    • A drum kit
    • A football pitch with football you can “kick” around
    • Splatting beetles
    • Leaving a trail of flowers as you walk
    • Scattering leaves
    • Water features that ripple with movement
    • Stepping on pictures of farmyard animals to reveal the word

    It has been particularly effective in use with students with special educational needs, for example students with profound and multiple learning difficulties can benefit from the cause and effect nature of the activities. Young people with physical disabilities can lie or sit on the floor and interact with the images around them, which is an excellent stimulus for movement. I also envisage it being used with Early Years groups.

    I particularly like the fact that you can create your own activities based on the templates, so we have had some 60s-inspired activities for our neighbouring Special School’s Beatles Week.

    This video will give you a taste of what it can do (each activity comes with its own audio, e.g. popping of the bubbles, or sound of water):

    If you would like to book your class into the CLC to use this resource, please  give us a ring on 2587728.