Tech skill area: Animation exploration

Project - Create an animated video

Claymation  or Animation

You are probably most familiar with Gumby when it comes to claymation. (I'm not counting Mr. Bill, since the frames were never actually put together.) You can bring in clay or play-dough, toy cars, transformers, dinosaurs, plastic army men, logos, or what ever else you can think of to animate. You can build your backgrounds form library paper or construction paper. I find it easiest to use your computer built in camera or the digital camcorders we already have used.

Look up some animations or clamation video on Youtube to get some good ideas.

Claymation or Animation can be broken down into five steps. These steps are just about identical to the steps that one would take shooting a movie or even writing a paper.

1. Create an idea. In the movie world, this would be called creating a storyboard. For writing, it would be an outline. Start with an easy and short idea. Recreating War and Peace for your first attempt probably isn't a good idea. For my practice movie, I just had my mouse move across my mouse pad. 

2. Create characters. Since this is claymation, the characters have to be built out of clay. You'll get better results if you create an internal skeleton or armature for the clay hero. Any flexible wire will do. (You can even use pipe cleaners.) Then build the clay around the armature.

3. Build the background. If you remember, Gumby was against a plain background with nothing but a few real rocks or similar stuff in the foreground. A background could be a drawing or painting. You just want to be sure that it fills the entire background of the pictures that you'll take.

4. Use IstopMotion to take your video. Animations are very labor intensive so their length can be shorter. I am also happy to accept 2-3 trials

(When you open iStop Motion, read the How-to under the help menu, you'll be more successful after reading this info on how to get the most out of the program.)

Remember that a movie is a series of still pictures. It's easiest to use a tripod to make sure that the camera doesn't shift. If you don't have a tripod, make sure that your camera keeps the background in the same spot in the image.

When taking your pictures, try to make only small movements. Remember, the more pictures you take, the better your animated movie will turn out.

5. Make a movie. You can export your video from IstopMotion and import it into your imovie program then add effects, sound effects, titles, credits, mix with human footage...


Two of the best sites for getting started with claymation were created by students as entries into the ThinkQuest competition:

Other good sites are:

And more information about Gumby:



• Students will:
_understand how animations are created

–gain mastery of animation software

_Incorporate animation footage into an iMovie

• Have a fellow student check your work

• Place your animation/clamation on your iWeb portfolio

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