Be a Hummingbird

Ryan Matthews, a grade 7 teacher at the John P. Robarts Public School in London, Ontario, Canada, started using iStopMotion with his students last December for the filming of Claymation videos. When the class had the idea to start their #beahummingbird project, they knew iStopMotion would be the perfect program to help their project take flight.

The "Be a Hummingbird" project is a social justice initiative that the class started to raise funds and awareness for education in the Chimborazo province of Ecuador. It’s a part of the Me to We and Free the Children programs, which enable kids to be agents of change. Ryan’s students took this mantra to heart. They wanted to make a change, and they wanted as many people to know about #beahummingbird as possible. To reach out, the students shot iStopMotion videos to introduce the initiative to their school.

They started out by watching some successful social initiative advertisements to get some ideas, and after that, they began creating their storyboards. Each group of students mapped out their videos prior to shooting to make the most of their day of filming. They loved how easy iStopMotion was to use and understand, and although it took time (like every good stop motion animation does), the finished product was totally worth it!

iStopMotion allowed for lots of creativity,” Ryan says. He appreciated the advanced form of presentation iStopMotion allowed the class. “It was smooth looking and easy to alter settings!

He says that many students’ favorite feature was the onion skinning option. They liked seeing the transparent image of the previous photo so they could line up their next shot perfectly. They also particularly enjoyed how easy it was to record and integrate music into the animation, the time-lapse option to eliminate camera movement, and the easy transition, upload adjustable frames options.

Because iStopMotion is so easy that it can be used to create a full animation in just one day, Ryan thought the students’ videos came out the very best that they could, since they had plenty of time to work and make adjustments as needed.

The first video started out being filmed with the iPad standing up on a stand,” Ryan says. “This made the captured images seem far away and not so prominent on the screen. Due to their extra time, the students were able to secure a device that would allow them to shoot the video from above, which in my opinion, made the video much better.

To share the wealth, so to speak, Ryan and another teacher gave a presentation on iStopMotion at the school’s technology conference. Every year, their board (Thames Valley District School Board) hosts a technology conference in which teachers from across the board can either attend or present on different uses of technology in the classroom. Ryan and his colleagues took the other teachers through iStopMotion for iPad and allowed them to experiment with a variety of tools they brought, such as Playdough, math manipulatives, white boards and markers, and Lego characters. It was a hit! Side note: We love seeing teachers advocate for educational technology use in the classroom, and it’s great to see them using iStopMotion as a way to introduce this idea.

Ryan and his students plan on using iStopMotion to shoot videos on the War of 1812 in the coming weeks. Last year, Ryan’s class focused on the battles, but this year he wants to allow them more freedom for a topic of their choice. The videos will be shot using Claymation, which we’re sure will introduce a whirlwind of great ideas!

The class has some great advice for stop motion beginners. First, don’t be afraid to fail! If you go in with no inhibitions, then creativity will spark naturally. In relation to using iStopMotion for iPad: plan, plan, plan. Ryan’s students say that come filming day, everything will be much more successful if you have a plan or storyboard to follow. Allow yourself to play with the program. You’ll be surprised at what you can come up with! And finally, share your work. It will help you to work harder and take more pride in your creation … and sharing that pride might even help to begin someone else’s animation career!

Take a look at the class’s #beahummingbird video above. Also be sure to check out two examples of their fantastic Claymation skills here and here, as well as another stop motion animation example here to help spark your imagination! We’re ready to #beahummingbird and start making some change … are you?