iStopMotion Animations So Good, They Could Be in a Museum

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, is a place where the power of art engages the spirit of community, according to its mission statement. With its innovative programs like New Dimensions, it’s no wonder spirits are high.

New Dimensions is the museum’s most technologically oriented program for students, and currently, it consists of three classes: Curator for a Day, Museum Analytics and Creative Exploration. The third class uses different programs to challenge students to think creatively about art projects, like iMovie, Garageband and, you guessed it … iStopMotion!

The class is open to grades 7 through 12, and it’s field-trip based. Teachers from schools, both public and private, around the KC area can go on the museum’s website and request a specific set of dates that works best for them. Transportation costs and lunch are also completely covered by the museum. The program is set up to be as flexible as possible for teachers, putting the focus more on the student experience rather than the pains of putting together a field trip.

In Creative Exploration, students are given a basic history and overview of animation, just in case they aren’t very familiar with it. Afterward, they are given a tour of the museum galleries to give them ideas and inspiration for their big project, which they will create over the next two to three days. In a recent example from the spring, a student made a video with an egg hanging from a tree, which is actually a work of art from the modern and contemporary collection at the museum. The students printed a photo of it and used it in their animation.

“It’s pretty open to whatever the students want to do as long as they try to include something from the museum,” says Brent Bellew, the New Dimensions teacher. “Sometimes, however, we let the students just create something ‘inspired’ by the collection rather than something which integrates an actual work of art. We mostly just want them to go through the process of creating a stop motion based animation and don’t worry too much about the end result.”

The majority of the program is spent in the classroom using MacBooks with iStopMotion and adjustable webcams to create an animation with some sort of narrative. Students work in groups of four with each person in a specific role: Director, Producer, Cameraman and Art Director. Creativity is encouraged in the animation creation, and every material you can think of has been used – be it clay, paper cutouts, whiteboard drawings or other various odds and ends. Eventually, they edit the animated clips together into a single cohesive piece using iMovie. At the very end of the program, students gather around and watch the work their peers came up with.

“I think stop motion is a fantastic learning tool,” Brent says. “Students learn very quickly that it takes a lot of patience and planning to achieve their original vision. They also learn to work together as a team, with each person providing feedback and making sure that they’ve completed their portion of the work.

“The stop motion project specifically teaches our students about narrative structure and technology,” he continues. “It’s also an entirely hands-on approach to learning. Once the students begin their animation, all of their learning comes from that hands-on experience and very little from the teacher’s instruction. They learn through experimentation and self-expression. I think that’s why it’s such a popular program here at the museum.”

For more on New Dimensions, or to check out the museum’s other learning programs, please visit Do you have any museum-worthy ideas for your own iStopMotion animation?

Well, the LEGOs Are All in Order!

YouTuber Goblet Studios came up with a great video for the GO-Film 2013 competition hosted by Onion Animations on, and the themes of “order” and “change” play a very special part (hint, hint!).

The video shows a mysterious man (well, a LEGO man!) and his work, and the ending may surprise you! All of the sets were entirely built from LEGO bricks and then animated using iStopMotion frame by frame. Goblet Studios used a Logitech Webcam C300, giving the iStopMotion video a sharp, clear HD quality. Great recommendation, Goblet Studios!

“It was fast and easy, and the software did not crash once during the whole process,” the YouTuber says. “The onion skinning feature is also very helpful!”

For more awesome work from Goblet Studios, check out the LEGO-filled YouTube channel here.

Working Together to Animate Water

Luke Dyer teaches students from all over the globe, and one program in particular has inspired a special connection among his Year 5 students at the British School of Nanjing in China – iStopMotion. As an ICT teacher, he has been using stop motion animation in his technology-driven classroom for a long time. Initially, he worked with digital cameras, and the class would upload their photos to the one class desktop computer and then animate them using programs like Movie Maker. When iPad and Android tablets were released, the process became much easier, and the software much more accessible. This was when Luke found iStopMotion, after a long period of trial-and-error with a range of free and paid animation apps.

To integrate iStopMotion into his Nanjing classroom, Luke decided to take their science inquiry to the next level. The class was looking at the scientific processes surrounding water, such as the water cycle and changes in states of matter. They researched and discussed, read and watched, and then needed a way to put it all together to show what they were learning. Cue iStopMotion.

“As I only had this class for a few weeks, I thought that we could mix a few different aspects into the learning, and I spent a few minutes showing them how to record and animate with iStopMotion,” Luke says. “I then gave them the task of using iStopMotion to show one aspect of their learning and let them loose on the iPads.”

Some students chose to work with the water cycle. They drew their animations on A3 sheets of paper RSA Animation style – they took photos after each letter or image was drawn and then moved the camera as the water cycle moved. Next, they exported the video to the camera roll, imported it into iMovie and gave it a title, credits and an audio commentary. Others used clay to show the changes to water when heat is applied. They came up with a short Claymation of heating water in a pot and it slowly evaporating. By using a bit of app smashing – when multiple apps are used together to create something completely new – the students took the iStopMotion footage and edited and published it through iMovie.

“The onion skinning feature is essential to animation, as it allows you to make sure all is in place for the next shot,” Luke says. “The way you can flip through your previous shots with the animation reel at the bottom allows you to remove that sneaky finger shot. An additional bonus is the free remote camera app – I’ve tried a cheap tripod and mount for my iPhone, which has the remote camera app, but the kids just buddy up and have one iPad with the main app and one with the remote camera app, allowing for an extra element of stability for the end product.”

Every student came across bumps in the road during the creation of their animations, but they worked as a group to solve them. Luke facilitated the process when absolutely necessary, but when the students solved problems without his help they were much more satisfied with their efforts. He found his role as a teacher becoming more of an opportunity to ask critical questions about what the students were doing, which made them think of the process they were going through. By thinking in this way, the students were able to branch out and experiment. If they liked it, they kept it, but if they didn’t, they simply deleted the photos and tried a different way.

“I am a firm believer in ‘children learn through doing,’” Luke says. “Often when teachers give students too many examples using technology, it can influence the end product. I have been shown countless times that when I give students a quick run-through of a program and then give them time to play and explore, they will produce things that are far beyond my level of creativity and imagination.”

He continues, “Technology is just a tool for learning. It can make a big change, no change or it can just be a distraction. It comes down to the purpose for using a tool and finding the right tool for the job. Using something like stop motion does raise the interest level with students and does offer a different and non-traditional way to assess students’ learning. The way it can be incorporated into other programs gives it such a wider range of use within education. Within a 1:1 iPad class, using iStopMotion could be just like reaching into your pencil case to grab a black pen – just another bit of stationary.”

Check out more fun education tips from Luke on his twitter. What do you think, teachers? Where can you incorporate iStopMotion into your lesson plans?

The Marvel-ous World of iStopMotion and Super Heroes

How do you explain the complicated world of Marvel to someone who thinks Rocket Raccoon would make a good pet? With the help of the stop motion animation group The Plaid Works, of course! The Plaid Works used iStopMotion to explain popular book series/HBO TV show Game of Thrones not too long ago, and the crew is back at it again with their Marvel movie.

The movie was shot on an iPhone 5S using iStopMotion, and it was then exported to Premiere for editing and audio additions. The team loved being able to see what the iPhone was seeing, and the ability to shoot on twos … or fours!

Check out the video above for a look into the world of Marvel Comics. Who’s your favorite super hero? Try sending them on an iStopMotion adventure of your choosing!