Some Sleek Stop Motion!

Starting Out on Super Stop Motions!

Stop Motion projects have been dominating our days for a seemingly endless time. And I mean that in a good way! Since my last post, a lot has changed. Instead of doing arbitrary, cute, and somewhat pathetic clips of Lego people smacking each other, we have been pursuing a much bigger goal.

We’ve been divided into groups, each researching a different topic about a subject called immigration. Immigration is (dictionary definition) “the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country.”, or, in more simplistic terms, the act of going from your own country to live in another country for the rest of your life. Each group was tasked with researching a different topic inside immigration (sort of like seeds to a watermelon), and then create a stop motion about it.

My stop motion group was a long-lived one. Jonah, Ronald and I had been book club partners together, along with partners for the original stop motion adventure. And now we were raring to take on this new challenge!

However before we could get ready to go, we had to choose a topic. And that was a whole ordeal in its own right. I wanted to do push and pull factors (factors that cause immigrants to leave and come to countries), but Jonah and Ronald wanted to do the journey of an immigrant. I tried to hold my case but defeated and outvoted, we decided to do the journey of an immigrant. But three other groups also wanted to do the journey of an immigrant. So we went out in the hall to resolve the problem.

With the help of Ms. Boyer, we began to resolve the problem. Topics were dished out one by one. We debated, and debated and debated. Then it came time for my group to get a topic. Somehow, after all the confusion my group ended up with push and pull factors. Which was just awesome, because that’s what I wanted in the first place. Now it was time to start the project.

Raring to Research!

Within a day, we had set up and immigration folder and created a Research document. Like tendrils, are fingers reached out to the corners of the internet, scooping up information and gathering it into one big mother document. We never stopped. Day and night, at least one of us was working. (Literally, I worked with Ronald at 8:30 PM to gather some research.)

Soon Ms. Boyer said that we couldn’t just be using websites and that we had to branch out to books and videos. I wasn’t happy about that in the beginning,  but it paid off all right. Within a few days, I had found a book and a few videos that provided me with so much more information than the websites. I learned that sometimes it is beneficial to take other people’s suggestions.

As more and more research compiled into the document, boosting it to over four thousand words, it became clear that it was time for my group to start the project. Any more information that we found would just be a repeat of something we already had. With no room left for information, we moved on to the script.

Administering Arguments & Encountering Fails

Making the script was almost as hard as choosing a topic. Why? Well, because the script is translating every bit of research you have into a narrated story, or documentary, in our case.

And there were disagreements too. For example, Jonah might say “We should put this piece of writing over here!”, but then I would say “No, this piece of writing makes more sense, and even if we use your piece of writing it wouldn’t be in the correct spot!”, and then Ronald would say “No, no, no, we should put this third piece of writing here, and we should delete the second piece of writing, and rearrange the first!”

So it was almost impossible to come to an agreement once a debate started up. There were so many different debates and disagreements that we did something I like to call “procrastinating till the end”. In other words, if a disagreement couldn’t be resolved, we filed it away until it came up again, and if we couldn’t solve it that time, we would file it away again.  And so on. By the third or fourth time a disagreement came up, it was normally resolved. And that lead to us having fewer disagreements.

With the help of “procrastinating till the end,.” we managed to finish our script. Once our script was done, I moved on to the story-boarding and Jonah moved on to the images. Ronald worked on miscellaneous, but important things.

Storyboard might have been the most boring part of the whole project. While being one important element, I had to draw out everything the script described. With a pencil. And while calculating the number of frames that would be needed (The are twelve frames a second in stop motion). So I got to work. I drew and drew and drew. My pencil scratched across the paper, eager to finish.

While I was working on the storyboards, Jonah and Ronald were tackling the images, which were no easy task. First, they had to go through the entire script, scouting out every image we would need. Which was over 20. Then Jonah and Ronald had to look online for the images, and paste them into a document for the images. But even after they did that, their work was not done. They had to use easybib to cite all of the images. By the time they were done with that, I had finished the story boards. Now it was time to take the final steps toward filming.

In order to get filming, we had to do one major thing, organize. To start, we took all of our images and placed them into separate google drawings, not docs, in order to print them. Then Jonah and I assembled all the citations of our websites, books, and images and pasted them into one doc. Then we worked on the credits, with super cool fonts! We had definitely organized our project.

Next, as the final step of preparation, my group had to print out our images. We went up to the computer lab to start printing, because the fifth-grade wing printer can’t do color, and everything came out looking great! Once we packed everything up into a big pizza box, it was filming time!

Reiterate for a Better Success Rate!

The next day Jonah Ronald and I set out for the computer lab, spirits high, not knowing anything of the challenges that awaited us. When got to the computer lab, we set everything up, plugged in the camera, and started. But about three seconds after starting, we ran into a gigantic road block. Scratch that. A behemoth of a road block. What was this road block? The carpet was showing in our stop motion video.

I know, I know. That doesn’t sound so bad. But if the carpet was showing, it definitely would not look like a real video! So, we had to try a million different things to get the carpet (or any other background stuff,) not to show. We propped up the camera. But that didn’t work. We moved the camera to a desk. But that didn’t work. We propped up the camera on the desk. But even that didn’t work. Eventually, the solution we came to was printing out several more backgrounds and arranging them on a pizza box to make sure none of the “other stuff” was showing. And guess what…

It worked!

Semi-Smooth Sailing!

And the first day of filming stop motion videos was a breeze.We took shots of ships sailing, America dancing, and other awesome stuff. We were able to film 30 or so seconds on the first day. But on the second day, the disagreements began!

It seemed that nobody could agree on what the script meant. For example, The script said, “Inside the thought bubble we see a cross floating over America.” Jonah thought that it meant a cross would sail on a ship over to America, but I thought it meant a cross would appear over America and do a little dance. The compromise Jonah and I eventually came to was that the cross would float over America, but not on a ship. 

And so it went, arguing, making changes, and shooting the video. I won some arguments, I lost some arguments. I won the argument “We shouldn’t place the Statue of Liberty on America if it’s that big.  It doesn’t look right.” But I lost the argument “We shouldn’t crumple of the thought bubble! It won’t look good!” But in the end, the thought bubble looked awesome when it was crumpled, so its a good thing I lost that argument.

Today, our group faced the trial by “Your stop motion better look neat!” If it didn’t, bad things, ranging from taking out a part of your stop motion to deleting almost the whole video could happen. Luckily, our group survived the trial by “Your stop motion better look neat!” But we had one flaw. Desk and Carpet kept showing in the corners of our video. The good news is just as we thought it was unfixable, Mr. Casal (The computer teacher) said in the editing process we could fix. Thanks to that, we were safe, as long was we tried not to let the corners show in the future. Whew!

All in all, stop motion so far has been an engaging adventure. I loved everything about it! (Except sketching the storyboards one by one… *Yawn*) I have learned so much from this project. But the project isn’t over yet! I wonder what new adventures are to come?

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