At Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland, you’re encouraged to shake it up during Maker Camp, especially when it’s about making films! DHF was formed in 2012 to take over a Rec Center that the city could no longer keep open and transform it into a youth maker space after school and during the summer. Maker Camp is DHF’s summer program, and it encourages youths from the 1st to the 12th grade to join different themed camps during school vacation and learn new skills such as 3D printing, electronics and film and movie making, which includes a session on iStopMotion that introduces the benefits of stop motion animation.
The film making Maker Camp session is a crowd favorite. Over the course of the two-week session, students create movie trailers in groups and finish off with iStopMotion films of their own creation. They start out by making a short storyboard with a beginning, middle and end to the story. After, they create puppets from a bunch of different materials, some of which include clay, wire, foil, felt and pipe cleaners. Some students partner up for the task, but it isn’t required until the actual filming portion. Once the story is in their head and the characters are created, the students (or MiniMakers!) have one week to shoot their movie trailers in front of a greenscreen. They use iMovie to add in their chosen backgrounds, transitions between scenes, titles and audio.
During the second week of the camp session, the MiniMakers make flip books to understand more about how stop motion animation works. That way, when it’s time for filming, it is almost as if they’ve been directing for years. For filming, DHF provides collapsible iStopMotion stations that hold an iPad, making it easy to keep the iPad stable for the most effective teamwork. It’s a go from there.
“The kids have really enjoyed using iStopMotion,” says Melissa Huch, community manager at DHF. “We barely have to tell them anything about the app before they figure it all out on their own!”
From set up to editing, the MiniMakers have no problem sparking their creativity. Like many other students, they love iStopMotion’s onion skinning feature, which makes it easy to create a smooth transition and helps them to know just how far they should move their characters. Melissa loves that it compiles all of the photos taken so it’s easy to play back quickly. Students come up with an incredible range of stories, from making a goal in soccer to a surfer girl falling in the water and becoming a mermaid.
“iStopMotion has really assisted the kids in learning about stop motion animation because it’s so easy to use,” Melissa says. “It’s very user friendly. We’ve tried other apps, but iStopMotion really makes the whole process run smoothly for both the students and teachers.”
The film making Maker Camp session ends with a showcase of the students’ iStopMotion films for all to see. In the future, Melissa and the rest of the DHF team hope to incorporate iStopMotion into the regular school year programs when MiniMakers learn about animation, film, photography and more. In the meantime, DHF and the MiniMakers will continue to shake things up during camp – who knows what types of iStopMotion films we’ll see next!
Now that Maker Camps are wrapping up for the season, Digital Harbor Foundation is excited to start Youth Recruitment for its after school program. To learn more about Digital Harbor Foundation and to sign up for sessions, please visit http://www.digitalharbor.org/.