Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Challenge Cards, getting teens to try new activities in the Teen MakerSpace

challengecards We are having tremendous success with our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) and are very excited to see the teens in our community using the space and learning new things. We have learned that certain items are more popular than others, with the button makers and 3D pens being hands down everyone’s favorites.

We have also seen that some of the elements are a little less self-directed then we imagined them to be. Sometimes, our teens want prompts to help get them started. And after a little bit of searching I learned about “Challenge Cards”. Challenge cards are a great way to help get teens engaging with some of our Teen MakerSpace elements. They basically work like a writing prompt, giving just that little push needed to get the creative juices flowing.

We currently have Challenge Cards for our stop motion animation station, the LittleBits, and Legos. Some of the Challenge Cards we found online, others we created ourselves. Our Lego Challenge Cards are a combination of those we found online and those we created with the help of teens sitting in the Teen MakerSpace.

In the future, we hope to develop (or find) some coding challenge cards. And because our iPad bank is perfect for learning photo manipulation and meme creation, I think we will also be developing some Photo Challenge Cards.

We laminated our cards and created signage, making them available right next to the station so teens can grab a card and go. We have found that it has prompted some of our teens to try new activities in the space and recommend them.

Here are links to some of the various Challenge Card examples we have found to date or created for ourselves. If you know of others you would like to share, please add them in the comments.

MakerSpace: Stop Motion Animation 101

Later today I am presenting a webinar on Stop Motion Animation for Florida Library Webinars. Here are my slides. I have been doing stop motion animation with my teens for about 3 or 4 years now (and at two different library jobs). It has proven so popular that we included a stop motion animation station in the Teen MakerSpace that we created at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (Ohio). I use a couple of movies created by our teens there as examples in this presentation. I am in awe of how creatively they think.

Some additional notes:

1. If you use an iPad or a smart phone, you’ll want a stabilizing agent as well. You can buy a tripod. For an iPad, you can use a wire book holder that you use for display.

2. We upload our videos/movies to a YouTube account. This makes it easy for us to share them and for the teens to find them so they can share them with their friends/family.

3. You can download the Stop Motion Animation challenge cards here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/313555018/Stop-Motion-Challenge-Cards

4. There are 16 Storyboard Templates to Download for Free here: http://www.sampletemplates.com/business-templates/free-storyboard-templates.html

5. The Scribd slideshow can show up kind of wonky depending on your screen dimensions. You can view and download it here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/313555719/Stop-Motion-Animation-101-Webinar

Take 5: Stop Motion Animation Hacks for a MakerSpace

When I became a librarian, I never knew that one day I would become the creator of stop motion animation. But lo and behold, here we are and I spend a lot of time with my teens teaching them how to do stop motion animation. I have the basics down, and the rest we figure out together which is both fun and empowering for my teens (and me). At The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, we are heavily immersed right now in creating our MakerSpace, and given the popularity of stop motion animation one of the first stations I set out to create was stop motion focused. So here are five of my favorite hacks.

Mini movie made with 3 teens, the GIFfer app, a paper background held in an acrylic sign holder & word bubbles.

Mini movie made with 3 teens, the GIFfer app, a paper background held in an acrylic sign holder & word bubbles.

Green Screen

Our trifold green screen. Easy to put away and take out when you need it. Cheap.

Our trifold green screen. Easy to put away and take out when you need it. Cheap.

Many libraries have set up amazing green screen studios, something that I simply don’t have the space for. But stop motion can be a fun and, more importantly for us, smaller scale way to teach green screen. Instead of buying a more expensive and traditional green screen, I bought a green tri fold science fair project board and cut it in half to make two green screens. It totally works. You don’t have to cut it in half, I just did.

Background Hack #1: Scrapbook Paper

Scrapbook paper for the win!

Scrapbook paper for the win!

A regular size piece of scrapbook paper is 12×12 in size. They come in all kinds of shapes and colors and patterns and they work fantastic as a backdrop. You can use a binder clip to clip it to the edge of your green screen mentioned above to get a more color background.

Background Hack #2: Acrylic Sign Holders

Stop motion animation station with background.

Stop motion animation station with background.

Most libraries have acrylic sign holders laying around. You can create a background scene using paper and a sign holder.

Paper Props and Word Bubbles

You know how you can easily make your own photo booth props (or if you don’t want to make them, you can buy them almost everywhere now and Oriental Trading has a large collection of them available for purchase)? These also work as stop motion animation props. Especially the word bubbles, you can quickly add in a “Pow” or an “Argggghhhhhh” using one of these. To make your own, use your publisher creation software to create your design, print it off, and then laminate it (or cover it in clear contact paper. You can hot glue it to a clothespin or small dowel rod to insert it into a scene. Or, if you are using an acrylic sign holder for your backdrop, you simply slip it in when you want the item to appear in your frame. See above folder for the word “Bam” which I easily inserted into my scene.

StikBots and Wooden Drawing Mannequins

Stikbots!

Stikbots!

Want a figure to appear in your mini movie? You can of course use things like Lego creations and various figurines. We have made movies with Funko Pop characters, key chains and Lego creations. But you can also use wooden drawing mannequins and something called Stikbots, both of which are available at a really low cost. We got wooden drawing mannequins for $6 and $10 at the local craft store. You can buy Stikbots at places like Wal-Mart or online for anywhere between $5 and $12. These are awesome tools to use because they  are easily pose-able for taking frame by frame shots. The Stikbots take the idea of a wooden drawing mannequin and up it by giving you a variety of colors to choose from and they have suction cups at the end of the hands and feet which can help you create and maintain some fun poses.

What about you, do you have any fun hacks to share with me? I’m always looking for new ideas to try with my teens.

Tech Talk: HUE Animation Studio Review

Someone from HUE Animation Studio found TLT and reached out to me to ask if I would like a HUE Animation Studio kit to review and since I am actively putting together my library’s MakerSpace, I was excited to have an opportunity to review this product. One of the stations that I am working to put together is, in fact, a stop motion animation station. Our MakerSpace is small and it turns out that stop motion animation has been very popular at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. Earlier this year we put together 16 circulating maker kits and the stop motion animation kit has hands down been the most popular.

The HUE Animation Studio

The HUE Animation Studio

The kit that I received included a camera, computer software, and a booklet with basic instructions and some short film ideas for you to create to learn how to use your software.

Set Up

Set up was really very quick and easy, except for one flaw that turned out to be user error. I just popped in the installation disk and it quickly did it’s thing. You can use the HUE Animation Studio camera with a desktop or laptop. I was using a laptop and I couldn’t get the studio program to recognize the camera because the default on my laptop was for the built in laptop camera. The help pages at the HUE Animation website let me know what the problem was and I had to do some additional Googling to figure out how, specifically, to turn off my laptop camera. However, once I did this everything was good to go.

A note about devices from the HUE website: HUE Animation only works on a Windows PC or Mac. However, we do have a separate iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch app based on HUE Animation called myCreate. We currently have no plans to offer the app for Android tablets, Android phones, Windows tablets, or Chromebooks. The myCreate app has a similar look and feel to the HUE Animation software, without the full set of editing capabilities. Movies can be created with the app, exported to a movie file and then imported into HUE Animation for final editing.

My First Stop Motion Creation

I began by following the steps in the book to get an idea of how to use the software program. It’s really pretty easy, you literally take a picture, make a small change in your subject, then snap another picture. You can easily delete pictures, re-arrange them, etc. Thing 2 and I started out by recreating the disappearing donut outlines in the accompanying book. The steps were easy to follow and we had a movie in a matter of minutes.

We had so much fun that we quickly thought of another idea which I share with you here:

The HUE Book of Animation

In addition to helping you install your software and get started, the HUE Book of Animation gives you some good videos ideas to try with a step by step outline. The guide to what all the buttons on your screen are is handy to keep around in the beginning as well.

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We used the guide to create our first movie that you watched above, The Disappearing Donut. You can see examples of the videos outlined in the book at the HUE Animation website.

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Adding Sound

The first few creations we made did not include sound. I wanted to figure out the basics before trying to add sound. There is a built in microphone on the camera and you have the option to import audio froma file. I personally always opt not to use music in my creations in order to avoid any potential copyright issues. There are legal ways you can include music, like parody or using creative commons music. Definitely do some research before adding music. But we did add things like screams and dialogue and it worked well.

The Camera

HUE Camera Info from the Website:

  • Unique, innovatively-designed USB camera with a built-in microphone.

  • The camera can be removed from its base and plugged directly into a USB port for use as a webcam with online chat applications, such as Skype™, FaceTime, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger and every other major network. It will also work with web-casting services such as uStream.

  • Widely used as a portable classroom document camera/visualiser in conjunction with a whiteboard.

  • Perfect for creating animated films, live videos or time-lapse recordings with HUE Animation, available separately or as a bundle.

  • Use the camera for real time live video and for recording sound and video. The HUE USB camera produces excellent image quality even when projected onto a whiteboard.

  • Plug and play: simply connect the HUE camera to your computer’s USB port and it will be ready to use.

  • By connecting your HUE camera to your computer and a projector you can share students’ work, books, experiments and pictures.

The camera is my favorite part of this package hands down. You can choose between several colors. The flexible neck makes it incredibly easy to set up your shots in creative ways. I have used some apps and my phone to make stop motion movies and the camera really changed what I could do and how easily I could do it. All the information says that the camera can be used with other software packages that use a USB drive camera and it can be purchased separately so even if you don’t use the software, I highly recommend that you use the camera. It looks like the camera itself costs around $80.00. Please note, there are two different camera choices and a few different software options, I used the HD Camera and have not used the HD PRO Camera.

Filters, Special Effects and Chroma Key

The HUE Animation tutorial page (a useful resource) has a short video that shows some of the special effects ideas that you can do using the HUE Animation software:

The HUE Animation software itself is fairly straightforward and easy to use, in part because it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, like filters. After completing their movie the teens really wanted to be able to add a filter to make it look like an old fashioned horror movie. They could theoretically upload this version of their movie into another resource like iMovie to add some other features, but they found this process really easy to use and didn’t want to bother with the extra step. They also wanted to add dripping blood on the end credits which we later learned they could draw in in the same way that the lightning is drawn in in the tutorial video above.

A low cost green screen option for a stop motion animation station

A low cost green screen option for a stop motion animation station

The best part is that the software comes with Chroma Key so you can do green screening with it. There’s a tutorial for that as well. Since stop motion animation is usually done on a really small scale, I recommend buying a green trifold science fair background and cutting it in half to make your green screen. This is a very inexpensive way to create a green screen.

Another thing that could use some improvement is the option for adding text to your video. It is perfectly serviceable, but again I have used iMovie and feel that it handles that component much better. Other software packages seem to give you more options and have better spacing. Also, there are only a few color choices to choose from and one font.

Uploading Your Movies

This is where I ran into some trouble, though I have to give the HUE support team some huge props here because they really answered all my questions and helped me understand what was happening. Under the “Share” button you have two options: open in QuickTime or YouTube. I could not get the videos to upload directly to my YouTube account. Instead, I had to save them to my laptop as a QuickTime movie, log into my YouTube account, and go through the YouTube upload process that way. Directly sharing would have been much quicker and more convenient, but I kept getting a message that said my account couldn’t be authenticated. This apparently has something to do with my YouTube account itself and not the HUE Animation software. Irregardless, I was still able to upload my videos and share them via YouTube.

Final Thoughts

The interface itself is really easy to use and you can get quick results. So the software is very effective for new users for the very reasons that it is may be frustrating to more advanced users – it’s lack of more advanced features like filters, advanced effects and better text. The guides and tutorials available really make the product easy to use.

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What Did the Teens Think?

The Bestie sits down to use the HUE Animation Studio

The Bestie sits down to use the HUE Animation Studio

The Teen and The Bestie walked in while Thing 2 and I were making one of our short films and they were very excited and interested. When I walked away The Bestie sat down and began making her first movie with no instruction whatsoever. In fact, she only had to ask me one question and it involved deleting a verbal track that was in the wrong location for her tastes.

The Teen and The Bestie working on their stop motion movie

The Teen and The Bestie working on their stop motion movie

Should I be concerned about this?

Should I be concerned about this?

This is their final product. All together it took them about 10 to 15 minutes, mostly because they were making it up as they went along. The software package does include some storyboard templates that you can open and use to help you set up a shot by shot layout of your movie. We just made it up as we went along, which also works.

I can tell you that in the space of about 2 hours we made around 10 short stop motion films. We made some using Flash figures, a Funko Pop Olaf, and more. We even made one using Legos with a painting of the Tardis as the background. We made a Lego alien and had it attack the Tardis. I can not even begin to tell you how much fun we had. And again, I adore the camera.

In the end, we did decide at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County to order this product for our stop motion animation station that we are putting into our MakerSpace, and I guess you can’t get a much better recommendation than that.

Please note, I only worked with the HUE Animation Studio kit on a laptop, I have not worked with the myCreate app on a mobile device or the HUE Intuition software. Also keep in mind there is a lot of information on the HUE website about licensing you will want to investigate before making any purchases. HUE Animation provided a copy of this product for review.

The Giveaway

The representatives at HUE Animation Studio have generously agreed to give away a studio package to one lucky TLT reader in the United States. Do the raffle copter thing below by Sunday (12/20) at Midnight to be entered to win. The HUE Animation Studio Kit will be shipped out by a representative at HUE Animation directly to the winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway