Saturday, June 27, 2015

Maier Museum iPad Camp: A Success Story

Five afternoons in mid-June, the Maier Museum at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va hosted eager and dedicated iPad artist between the ages of 8 and 13 for the first iPad camp of the summer. Surrounded by art treasures from the Maier Museum collection, what better location to inspire students to be creative.

My objective in organizing these iPad camps is to encourage students to become content creators not just content consumers. When I asked the students how they use their iPads, I heard a lot about Minecraft and Youtube. We all know how easy it is to become addicted to the wide range of media at our fingertips with our mobile devices.  My mission: convince students to use their own creative energies and expertise to become animators, storytellers and developers too. Few things make me happier than to see this mission accomplished as successfully as it was that week.

Olivia's wonderful cat with a view of the Flip Boom Cartoon interface.

Flip Boom Cartoon is a wonderful tool for helping students become animators. It is cheap ($1.19), very easy to learn but has a lot of potential for animating very cool projects. I have had very young kids up to college level drawing students and adults use this app.

I always start my camps with Flip Boom because it's a great way to get to know the students and introduce the basic concepts of time-based media. I show them a short animation I made to introduce myself and ask them to create an animation to introduce themselves. They are to animate the letters of their name and then animate an activity they enjoy. Here is a great example from one of the campers.

We also looked at a sample animation from MinutePhysics to encourage the campers to think about animation as a viable tool for explaining concepts in science. Addie came up with this humorous example.

The second app I introduce is iMovie ($4.99). It teams up well with Flip Boom Cartoon. The animations are easily imported into iMovie and sound effects and narration can be added, something that isn't possible in Flip Boom.  A wide variety of edits are possible in iMovie.  Below is a sample animation that is a great example of how much sound effects enhances even a very short project.

The next stage of our screen production venture is working with Procreate ($5.99) and Demibooks Composer Pro ($5.99). Procreate is a sophisticated painting and drawing app and Demibooks Composer Pro is an app for making interactive books and game. Again, a partnership that works beautifully because all of the assets for Composer Pro projects must be created outside the app and imported. This is possible through the Photo Gallery on the iPad.

Procreate and one set of numerous choices for brushes

It's a thrill to see how much students love Procreate. It can be a bit intimidating at first. There are literally hundreds of choices an artist can make but a brilliant interface makes it accessible even to young students. Here a student is showing me the gallery of artwork he has made in Procreate for the game he developed in Composer Pro.

Shane's gallery of images in Procreate
Demibooks Composer Pro is the tool we use to make interactive books and games. I give students options on how they will spend their time during the week of camp. It was very gratifying to see all of the students work in Composer Pro, even those who were reluctant at first. One originally reluctant student left with a 20 page animated story she thought might end up being 100 pages by the time she finishes. 

Lydia's Composer Pro project revealing a small range of options for programming interactivity
Composer Pro can be a bit intimidating because it is a sophisticated tool that does advanced programming. However, the interface is designed to program without having to  write code. All of the students learned how to create a master page with navigation that was visible on every page. They accessed the physics capabilities and made objects drag-able. They created hot zones that triggered events when they were entered by their target. One student worked on 8 interactive projects; a number were portfolios of his artwork and two were games for his little brother. These students were very focused.

Aidan adding text to a Composer Pro project
 A bonus app that I have added to the mix for iPad Camp is Shadow Puppet (free). This app is a perfect fit for a camp at an art museum. It allows users to shoot photos in the galleries, take those images from their photo gallery and narrate or add text over them to be output as a video file. I asked the students to go around the museum (mindful of the images that indicated No Photos) and shoot their favorite artwork. In Shadow Puppet they were to narrate (which none of them wanted to do) or add text to explain why they had selected each work of art. The results provided insight into their appreciation of the work.



We ended with week with presentations by the students of their favorite work.

Aidan's interactive book about his dog
Hallie's Shadow Puppet project about their favorite art from the Maier Museum

William is demonstrating the interactive features of his book.

Erik demos his Composer Pro project.
Congratulations to the students on fabulous work. They were amazingly focused and diligent all week. It was a real pleasure working with them. We want to thank the Art Zone for making scholarships available for some of these Maier Museum iPad Camps this summer.

Stay tuned. The Maier Museum is offering one more iPad Camp the week of August 3rd through the 7th.

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