Done Up Like Tommy Ward’s Elephant

May 2, 2012

A year 7/8 class from Talbot Specialist School bought a Sheffield legend to life this term through animation and artwork. Lizzie the elephant was used by T W Ward and Co scrap metal dealers during the First World War, to replace horses that were conscripted by the military. The Talbot class brought to life a number of stories about Lizzie, using stop-motion animation.

The students worked really hard on the film, recording the voice-over, writing the titles, drawing the backgrounds and models, animating the stories, and finally editing the film. We were also very lucky to find the perfect soundtrack, a song called “Lizzie Wards Elephant” by a songwriter called Steve Birks (you can see his MySpace page here). He very kindly gave permission for the song to be used in the film.

For more information about Lizzie’s story, see the Sheffield Jungle  page on the University website.

Lizzie the Elephant


Traditional Japanese Stories Brought to Life by Bradway Y6s

June 30, 2011

Two year 6 classes from Bradway School spent a full day each at the CLC to animate the traditional Japanese stories they had been learning about in class. The students had also being studying Manga comics, and each group created some fantastic 2D characters, props and sets for the animations. They were the most ambitious characters I’ve seen at the CLC, with a huge number of moving parts, with different eyes, mouths and profiles. I was very impressed with how the students managed to keep track of all the bits and use them to full effect in their films.

Once again the difficulties of animating enough action to match the scripts came to the fore. The problem partially lies in recording the voice-over separately, rather than straight onto the animation, but this isn’t really practical. However I think that any problems like this teach the pupils a lot, and they hopefully will be very aware of the issue for future animations.

Here are some of my favourites from the sessions (I just love the Windy Bride story!):


Y1 Animations from St Thomas of Canterbury

June 30, 2011

The year 1 class from St Thomas of Canterbury attended the CLC in two halves this past couple of weeks in order to animate the stories they had been learning in lessons. The first half animated The Gruffalo, each group taking one or scenes to work on. These were all put together at the end with the voiceover recorded in class. We used the software Zu3D, as it is very easy to use and primary friendly, with the ability to add titles and audio to the animation without having to export it into another application. The pupils worked really hard to get the animations completed in a morning, although we had the common problem of struggling to have enough action to fit the voice-over. This is where one of the Zu3D features is particularly useful – the frame rate slider means you can quickly reduce the number of frames per second, in order to slow the film down.

The second half of the class animated a Funny Bones story which you can see below.


Totley Primary’s Eggcellent Animation Day

April 1, 2011

The Totley Primary Year 5s had a smashing time at the CLC yesterday, creating some eggcellent animations using painted hard-boiled eggs. Each group had written a story and built a set in a cardboard box for their egg characters. Unfortunately they only had a morning to complete their films, but they worked really hard and I was amazed at how much they got done – the finished films had titles and sound added, as you can see below. The biggest problem was getting the eggs to stand up, but they did make excellent characters for squishing.


Carfield Y3 Animations

April 1, 2011

Two year 3 classes from Carfield Primary School came to the CLC this term to animate their own short stories. Each group wrote a script, designed their set and brought toys and props to animate. They spent the morning using I Can Animate to create the animations, and the afternoon editing the films in Windows Movie Maker to add sound and titles.

The first class had developed some quite lengthy scripts and it soon became clear that their animations weren’t long enough to fit in all the speaking, so they had to cut out large parts. The second group therefore decided to create silent films, using only music and sound effects to enhance the action – unfortunately this meant the storyline was often unclear. The perfect balance is an action-driven story with very small amounts of narration/dialogue, and the use of titles to explain where necessary.

You can see some of the finished animations below:


Mundella Y3/4 Animations

March 16, 2011

Three classes from Mundella School have visited the CLC this term to create some animations. Two classes animated part of the story of The Iron Man by Ted Hughes, using some fantastic hand painted sets and props.

The third class had been learning about explorers, and created animations set in the Antarctic based on Scott’s expedition to the South Pole, again with some beautifully painted backdrops and penguins.


Iron Man Stories from Heritage Park

December 7, 2010

Two key stage 2 classes from Heritage Park have been studying the story of the The Iron Man by Ted Hughes as part of their Machines topic and came to the CLC to help bring it to life. In the first session the pupils created an animation of part of the story, using 2D painted backgrounds and characters. This worked particularly well as they had used split pins in the joints of the Iron Man, so that his arms and legs could move. The animations were also quite short and based on action rather than dialogue, which I find is always most effective.

The following week we looked at mechanical sounds and created a soundtrack for the animation. We used the iPads, in particular the Shaker app, and Garageband on the Apple Macs. This contains a large number of loops and sound effects. A couple of groups recorded their own sound effects too.

In the third session, I took our Lego Mindstorm Robots to the school, to do some programming. We look at simple programs to make the robots move forward, backwards, turn and stop. Then we investigated the sound and colour sensors, seeing how loud different sounds were, and what colours the robot could detect.