Have you ever wanted to be on TV? At Norfolk Community Television in Massachusetts, adults and children can enroll in workshops to teach them how to be the face of their own public access show. One of the most popular student workshops is the Stop Motion Animation class, a program for children between the ages of 9 and 12 who want their final projects to be featured on NCTV’s channels. And guess what program they’re using!
“Our iStopMotion classes encompass a wide range of interests and our students’ projects reflect that as well,” says Katy Woodhams, executive director at Norfolk Community Television. “They usually come up with something so fun and creative, and I’m constantly impressed with how their brains work.”
So far, Katy and the rest of the team has allowed the students to create whatever iStopMotion project comes to mind. Eventually, they might throw in an extra curveball and give students certain parameters to work with, such as one line of dialogue or an object that they have to incorporate into the story to help them think through tougher assignments. Students used rolling tape to run over characters, to discover who the “real” Samuel Adams is and to have epic pie fights.
“Our students are always giddy to start filming their project after putting in the time to storyboard and build their sets,” Katy says. “iStopMotion has a short learning curve and I encourage them to take advantage of using keyboard shortcuts to speed up the process – 2 is my favorite key when it comes to iStopMotion!”
The staff and the students both have the same favorite iStopMotion feature – onion skinning! Katy says that onion skinning is vital to how they teach and how the students learn. Because most of the students are beginners, it is important that they start to learn how small movements make big changes. They also love being able to watch the video progress as it goes so students can take out unwanted frames or plan how they want to proceed. And when they use Final Cut Pro X to add homemade or pre-recorded sound effects once the filming is done, the students can’t get enough!
“Technology is advancing and changing at lightning speed these days, and being able to harness its power to aid in the creation of video, media, music, art or whatever your form of expression may be is truly inspiring,” Katy says. “Having worked in community TV for almost four years now, I’ve seen how the change in affordability of many professional software companies has affected budding professionals, hobbyists and community members alike. They now have access to powerful tools and can learn the tricks of the trade by actually having their hands in a project instead of learning theory in a classroom. Affordable technology benefits the learning process by providing real hands-on experience to a wider population, and iStopMotion assists by being an affordable alternative to expensive professional stop motion software.”
Norfolk Community Television offers programs with three sessions per year, and they plan to continue that trend. Their August session has been full for months! The doors are always open at NCT to help the community learn new skills and express themselves along the way, and if you’re interested in signing up for an iStopMotion workshop, please visit them online here!