SAM Animation: Baby Animation Steps for Children - The Koch Family
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SAM Animation: Baby Animation Steps for Children

Much as we want children to learn 3D animation right away, the mechanics for this skill would require intense training in the nuances of making motions move under the principles of three dimensions. For children eager to start immediately, this may seem like a tall task. An effective software for children to carry out baby steps in animation is SAM Animation.

SAM Animation is a simple software platform where users can create stop-action movies using images from a web cam or importing pictures from a camera. It is compatible for either Mac or PC and most importantly, it is free for everyone.

What makes SAM Animation attractive for children? It has a simple interface which can be easily explained. Here is the description of things which the software can accomplish from the official website of SAM Animation:

- Snap images from a live web-cam feed or import pictures
- Add narration of import audio files
- Onion-skinning for easy frame-to-frame alignment
- Adjustable frame-rate
- Time-lapse functionality
- Add text and shape overlays to each frame
- Import movie files and parse them into frame-by-frame projects
- Export your project into a variety of movie formats

These features are simple enough for children to learn. Actually, most children are able to do this already by creating their own video content and posting it in website such as YouTube. Professor Garry Hoban of the University of Wollongong in Australia figured that these easy-to-use technologies can be used not only for entertainment purposes but also for education. Thus the birth of his concept, Slowmotion.

Slowmotion goes straight to the point of animation. It works by using two frames per second instead of the animation standard of 25 frames per second. Through this, children can concentrate on the content. The Salisbury University applied the Slowmotion methodology in their classes and used it to engage children in science projects.

"The 'Slowmation' technique is close enough to popular forms of entertainment that it catches students' attention while really getting them to focus on underlying science concepts," says Ed Robeck of Salisbury University's Teacher Education Department, "And it's great to see how proud the students are of the products they can make, which is also very motivational."

At this point in the development of children's animation skills, the premium should be placed on the essentials and in the content instead on fancy technical sensibilities. Animation, after all, is a medium used to deliver strong narratives. This is why the Slowmation technique is a good way to start to imbibe the values of animation early on.

Engaging children in science projects was a good example as it helps sharpen the creativity of children and also imagine things through animation which is normally impossible to view in real life. Education of children in the specifics of animation should always focus on the cerebral part of production: the pre-production. They should know beforehand what they want to say; there should be a solid plan in order to deliver a strong material from an animation - even if it is just done with two frames per second.

Working children on the basics of animation early on may give them immediate satisfaction because they are able to replicate the processes behind their favorite cartoons. This may even inspire them to create their own characters, plots and storylines. The key insights to remember are to always encourage children with the right support and equipments if they are so enthusiastic about animation and to likewise not push them into something they don't want to do. Let them enjoy it and it will eventually turn into their passion.


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