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Friday, 30 November 2012

Favourite iPad Animation Apps

This is a guest post by my colleague, Rodrigo Alfaro, based on our animation work with iPads this school year.

We recently purchased a dozen iPads for teacher and student use in the LRC. These iPads are used for many tasks, including animation. We have found a great many useful apps for animation which we hope others will find useful as well.

  Animation Desk Lite for iPad This app has the most features for classical (drawn) animation. Its greatest limitation is that you can only create three scenes in the Lite version. Even so, it is quite a robust application; it includes different pen and brush types, multiple layers of animation, variable frame rates, onion-skinning and even a digital stamp tool which allows you to cut and paste as well. This application is ideal for patient students who have a drawing vocation and enough passion to pursue the completion of one project for a period of time. This application also feels more intuitive if you use a stylus to draw. Animation Desk will allow you to save a scene to the Photo Library (Camera Roll) as a movie, which can then be emailed or exported to a computer with the USB cable.

This application is designed for pixilation (sequential picture) sequences. The interface is very simple to use and understand, because as soon as you open the program there is a small tutorial which guides you through the basic functions of the app. When a clip is created, the front or back camera is activated and you can start shooting right away. The tricky part is to keep the ipad as still as possible, so the animation is not jarring and inconsistent. Often times, the best method involves placing the iPad in a static position in front of where the action will take place. Since this is a purchased app, there is no limit to the amount of scenes available to shoot. You also have the option to play back the animation at different speeds. When your sequence is done, you can export to the Photo Library and email your movie from there.

Animation Express
 This application is simple to use. It is very similar in style to Animation Desk, but the interface is less complicated. Even so, it is powerful enough to be able to do rotoscoping (drawing on pictures). It includes 2 modes: the regular drawing mode (which includes, brushes, colour swatches, a stamp tool and a smudge tool), as well as the animating mode, (which includes adding, subtracting or duplicating frames, variable frame rate, a sound recorder and export functionality to get your video out of the ipad and unto a computer. Other features (with the free version) include a shape tool, a Paint Bucket tool which is used to paint large areas of your drawing. This program is accessible and simple enough for those who find Animation Desk too complicated.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Favourite Extension and App

I have a huge list of favourite extensions and apps that I love. My Chrome address bar is now minuscule as the result of me adding so many favourite Chrome extensions to my account.

There are only a few extensions in particular however, that I use many times a day without fail. Diigo is definitely one of them. I won't go into that now as I have written about it in the past.

Post to Blog
Diigo Groups for Student Content
My Wish Lists for Diigo and SimplyBox(now defunct)

Evernote clipper is one I plan on using more often, but funny enough one of my most useful extensions is the seemingly measly little shortener. Now there are plenty of shortener extensions and apps out there, but this one has been with me from the on start and it works every single time. It is not only reliable, but fast and it generates a little QR code along with the shortened URL. It is this QR code that is so important to me.

Big deal you might say. QR codes are everywhere, they're certainly not new, so what is the big deal? Timeliness and reliability are both important here. I work on both a Mac and an iPad each day as do our students. Emailing links, or even bookmarking and then accessing them on Diigo (which I love) or tweeting them for example, seems to take too long, too many seconds spent opening up applications. Really,  I don't necessarily want these particular links taking up space in my Diigo account etc. Often we need the link in a pinch, while in the midst of a project.  At other times we generate them in advance, to use in directing the kids to starter activities, or as components of our online lessons.  We use one of my favourite iPad apps, i-nigma, to capture these QR Codes.

I have been loving this system for a while and decided that it deserves sharing.

Hold on....i-nigma is another application to open up, so why am I whinging about lost time?

The question is easily answered by answering another...Why do I love it?
It is free, it loads immediately, it is extremely reliable and it captures the QR Code without any kerfuffle. I don't even have to really focus it with the mobile device. I have stood at the front of my classroom and basically waved my iPad across the screen and it captures the code!!!

Getting a link to the iPad in a flash:
Basically what I do is generate the QR Code on the Mac and open it with i-nigma, that other app I absolutely love to bits. This opens it on the iPad where I can then use it in whatever project we are working on. This is great for working with citations of images the kids may have collected and sharing important links with each other.

Generating a link for starters or further investigation:
All you need to do is generate a QR code for the poll, reading selection, video etc, that you are using as a starter and having it up on your computer when the kids come in, ready to capture. I open mine in preview and they zoom very nicely, so even the kids at the back of the room can capture them with ease if needed.

Capturing on the spur of the moment:
Sometimes you may have reason to go off on a tangent and really want to share something with them for later followup or discussion. Just go to the page you want to share. Activate the extension and have a qr code for them to scan.

i-nigma is free for iPad, Android and Windows Phone, and shortner is a free extension from the Chrome Store,so there is no reason not to try it out.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

It's a Rap-A Better World Project

Two of my fellow ICT teachers and myself will be presenting our A Better World Project at the Global Education Conference, this Wednesday at 3:00 Central time. Do pop in if you get a chance and learn more about how your students can learn more about global issues through collaborative writing, audio and video work.