Stop motion animation is as old as the hills, and certainly long pre-dates the development of digital technologies. Many of you will remember flip-book animations (or turning the corner of a school textbook into a flip animation using your own artistic skills). Basically, flip-book animations are created by making slight changes in a drawing on each subsequent page of the flip-book. “Flipping” through the pages quickly makes the figure appear to move on their own. This is the same principle used in digital stop motion animation; in short, incremental changes are made to a scene, with each change photographed from a fixed position. These photos are then compiled into a single video using digital video editing software (e.g., iMovie, Windows Movie Maker) to create a stop motion animation video.

It's easy to be enormous fan of stop motion animation—not least because it’s a marvelous storytelling medium. It’s also very easy to master and is really open to creating all sorts of on-screen magic. It’s an excellent medium for resistant or struggling writers to use to tell their stories or to convey their ideas (nowadays the alphabet is just one writing resource among many available to children and young people). Self-expression through stop motion animation also works really well for English language learners and for students with different abilities within inclusive classrooms. Stop motion animation can be used across the grades, from the very early grades onwards (even three-year-olds can make stop motion animations (with a little help putting them together into the final video):

Different types of animations to explore and muck around with include claymation, sand animation (keep in mind that while Simonova’s sand animation is incredibly beautiful, it’s not technically stop motion animation), Legomation, line/2D animation, and doll and figure animation, just to name a few.

There are a number of online “affinity spaces” where stop motion creators and fans congregate to share and review stop motion videos. These are rich sources of ideas and techniques for your students to explore and muck around with.

Stop Motion Central is a good starting place, because it provides a place to watch stop motion animations along with how-to tutorials.
Animate Clay is a useful portal for learning more about creating our own claymations.

And, just to show you what Master’s students are able to achieve in a fairly short period of time, here’s a marvelous Lego animation made by a group of Masters of Education students over the course of 2-3 days (Michele Knobel and Colin Lankshear worked with this group recently in Newfoundland, Canada). And a wonderful sand animation done by another group within this same class.

Technical "stuff"

Digital movie-making software

Music and sound effects

For free music that doesn't run up against restrictive copyright laws for personal and eductaionl use, try the following sites. The music archived here falls into different Creative Commons licences that have a wider range of not-for-profit uses than does commerical music.

File conversion services

If you find you need to convert an image or sound file, we recommend Zamzar: Zamzar is a free online file conversion program. Type in a URL or upload a file and Zamzar will convert the file to another format. Zamzar will then send you an e-mail with the URL to download the converted file.