Day 19- Last Class!

Ta Da!

This has been a great experience, thank you Fund For Teachers. I’ve had the opportunity to experience tech lessons and expectations for students at the college level, learned how to use Adobe Flash CS5, created an example for students when we do our (not as complex) animation unit, all while living, exploring, and enjoying a summer in New York City.

A final thought about ability to learn. Teachers know and repeat the mantra that “All kids can learn.” Let’s expand that and recognize that all people can learn. At first I was a little apprehensive about the class; I was one of the only people out of college (because honestly, how many adults do you know can take off 4 consecutive weeks from work?), and the age difference did make me a little uncomfortable at first. I know teachers who think new technology is for young people and they’ll never catch on, and students who are afraid if they can’t do it right the first time, they won’t even try. There’s a lot to be said for willingness to learn and being comfortable with not being good right away. If we believe that others can learn, we must believe that we can learn and succeed too.

-Take risks. Push through problems. Celebrate your victories.-

That’s all, folks! Thanks for following a tech teacher learnin’ more about technology.


Day 18

So, didn’t end up meeting my 2pm deadline. It’s past 6pm, I am 92% “done.” I put “done” in quotes because there can always be room for improvements, but as Leonardo da Vinci said “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Therefore, I will officially “abandon” this project as of 11am tomorrow. Keeping in mind my previous rule of “Don’t put off for tomorrow what should be done today”, I’m only finishing in the morning because I need one of my drawing markers to do it and I left that at home.

Tomorrow all of the animations will be burned together on a single DVD and shown in a theater. Every department in this continuing ed program is having a “Portfolio Review” celebration to display what all of the students have been working on for the past four weeks. Tech teachers know that students feel the value of their efforts when there is a “finale.” Having work to share with an audience improves the quality and gives the author a purpose for their work.

So tomorrow will be my online and in-person final reveal. Thanks for all the support, hope this inspired you to do something too!

Day 16

Three days left! I’m aiming to finish on Thursday by 2pm, because even though we will still have Friday morning, anyone who has done big technology projects knows that the rendering/exporting/dvd process is not as simple as it seems.

Animation thus far:

I’ve become a list person. In these last two weeks we essentially have independent work time for 7 hours, every day. This means I’ve needed to develop systems to keep me wise with my time. We’re held accountable to making progress because every other day we send our work in progress to the instructor (via DropBox) and he projects it for all to see. We offer feedback, what works and what doesn’t, and each person decides if they will make the suggested improvements or not. Either way, this does keep people on track because everyone wants something new to show at every critique.

Also, I’m not tied to the title, “Drive.” Any suggestions?

Day 11

Most recent version below. You will see new intro (took 7 hours to complete), magazine sequence (took another 7 hours to complete), and multiple calendar page flips (you guessed it, another full day’s work). The color is a little off in this preview, but it doesn’t really look like that. Everything is a shade darker.

I’m feeling the pressure of being down to the wire. Got organized over the weekend. Your files on the computer should always be organized by name and number (Final_01, Final_02) and in folders (Bitmaps, Scans), but paperwork associated with projects should be all kept tidy in case you need to use your originals again. Appreciate my nifty new binder below, complete with my schedule for how I plan to finish this:

Organization is something Parsons does well here. First, they have really nice equipment; hundreds of computers in several labs on different floors in all of the buildings and all of the software is the most up to date. About 1/4th of the computers have their own scanner next to them. The desktop is clean with minimal icons and people aren’t allowed to save anything on the desktop. The hard drive is partitioned into a separate “Work in Progress” drive that students are encouraged to work on. We “work local” which means save things in a folder on the “Work in Progress” and then at the end of the say, move everything from that folder to your own USBs and external drives. Working with such big files directly on outside storage often means software crashes, work is lost, and people cry. We’d like to avoid all of that. Also, there is a server (located on the dock) that houses all software, media players and internet tools. Additionally, Parsons subscribes to DropBox so we can scan something using one computer and open it on another, or send things to our instructor and vice versa. However, they have it timed to wipe clean everyday at 11:50am so it never gets junky. Students also log into the computers with their own usernames and passwords and that is how they print, too. Anytime you want to print a page, you enter in your Student ID and PW, tell the computer which printer you want to use, it tells you how much it costs and you approve if you want to spend that amount. Right now I have a $150 credit towards printing, but I imagine once that expires it would be a bill. These fantastic labs are certainly giving me ideas for how to organize our labs at school. (Edited to add this PDF file that captured screenshots: Parsons Computers. Please download for reference.)

Now off to see Memphis on Broadway!

Day 09

This is the halfway point. 2 weeks completed, 2 weeks to go. 7 hours later and I have my calendar scene(s). It was only 10 drawings but that does not include the others that ended up in the trash. Another lesson learned: when working with technology, or on big projects: Patience is a virtue.

Let’s compile a list of the lessons learned so far:
– Don’t be afraid to jump right in. Taking risks is ok!
– Stick out the problems through the frustrating moments. You will overcome.
– Have motivation for every decision that you make.
– Don’t put off for tomorrow what should be done today (ahem, homework)
– Everyone experiences a learning curve. Be comfortable with your pace.
– Be patient.

Also, I’m looking for more quotes to put in my calendar, so suggestions are accepted. Current version of the “Final Project” (title suggestions are also accepted):

Day 08

Homework was having us draw 8 frames of a person walking. In all honesty, I did not do my homework at night and rushed through it as class began this morning. So lesson to you kids: your work will show if you rushed. Needless to say, he was amused but we’re all doing do-overs. Next time I’ll complete it with the amount of time it needs and my character will have more than one arm.

Yes, I really will have to do about a thousand drawings to fill the time. So to keep up with the work, each student has a spreadsheet of requirements that needs to be checked off and submitted to the instructor every day. This lets him know if we’re on track and allows everyone to work at their own pace, yet be aware of what they need to do to stay on schedule. Click here to see the form: Project Accountability Sheet

Finally, I’m choosing to upload the final animation at each phase of the process. A lot of people think learning new technology is an overwhelming, frustrating, and mysterious process that you either understand right away or never will. Hopefully showing all of my steps makes the process of learning new things less scary, and as I post things that are unfinished and not perfect it makes clear that everyone experiences a learning curve. So below is what I have so far of my final animation, which as of today is only backgrounds in color.

Day 06

Animatic is done; or “done enough”. Time to move on. We finished them in the morning, after ten hours of work. Even after all this work, I know there are some different camera angles that I will use in the end scene.

In the afternoon we heard from a guest speaker, Richard Gorey, animator with 30 years of experience and professor at the School of Visual Arts. Big takeaways from that presentation:

  • Have motivation for every decision that you make.
  • Every shot is an opportunity to draw the audience in.
  • Generally there are 12-15 drawings in each second. (My film as of now is 100 seconds, so I will need 1500 drawings!)

Tomorrow begins our scene-by-scene completion of the final piece!


Students: Middle school is a good time to start thinking about what you want to learn in college and where you might want to go, so click on the links below and start reading about some of these schools.

And remember, you can click on “Leave a Comment” below to write to me!

Day 04

Only four days in and my BRAIN hurts! The pace of the class is fast, but I’m managing to keep up. Drew the storyboard for homework, ran it by the teacher for feedback, redrew it, scanned it into flash all set to present in the morning. Next up is making the slideshow below an “animatic” which adds motion, timing and a rough soundtrack to the piece.

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When I return to school, we’ll do an animation unit that has students create animations where they visualize themselves doing something they’ve always wanted to do. Having practiced yoga for several years now, I would love to transition from down dog to crow to headstand. If animated me can do it, maybe real life me can too!

Day 03

Concluding our history of animation, our homework was to draw self-portraits in different styles, then come in this morning and practicing scanning and coloring in Flash. My three styles: Simpsons, Disney, and Old Mickey Mouse (although it looks very Muppet-like). Which is your favorite?

Then we had to figure out on our own how to make a person jump over a tree based on what we learned yesterday. It took a while, but I finally figured it out. Lesson, students: stick with it. Move past the frustration and you can surprise yourself.





Finally, my animation project will be about perseverance when I have set a goal for myself. This is a tangible example of positively visualizing oneself accomplishing what you would like to do. Students, start figuring out what your goal-setting animation will be about. Mine sounds deceptively simple, but perhaps after animated-me can do this, real-life-me can do it too! Wait to see beginning storyboard later this week!

Day 02

Busy morning! Spent the first part of the day learning about keyframes, timelines, paths in Flash. We crammed this into three hours (keeping up and taking notes was tough!) but each short could easily be separate daily lessons. Below is my work:


Ball Drop 01 and 02 – Movement in a “Tween”


Rectangle Squeeze – Shape and Color changes in a “Tween”


Boomerang (and my favorite!)- Moving Along a Path


Bug – Movement within a Path

Next up: Developing our storyline and characters for our own animations.