XTRANORMAL MOVIE MAKER
UPDATE – thanks to Mark O’Halloran who discovered that there are some G rated movies that are definitely not G rated! This is disappointing as it makes such a worthwhile tool inappropriate to use in the classroom unless you can supervise that the students don’t go to the “watch movies” section of the site. I think the best way to get around this would be to download the software State. While this is a good solution for PC users, there is no Mac version (yet).
Xtranormal is a site that provides a really simple way to make an effective looking animated movie. Their motto is “if you can type, you can make movies” (you just type in the script and your chosen characters speak it).
We like this site because it:
* is free for a basic membership (which allows you one or two characters)
* is suitable for students from around Grade Two to Year 12
* is intuitive and easy to use
* allows end results to be published on a blog, emailed or downloaded
* allows you a great deal of creative control over settings, characters, voices, noises, animations, camera angles, expressions etc
* provides a great alternative to traditional movies if you want to avoid putting your students’ faces on the Internet
* has so many applications in the classroom in all curriculum areas.
To get started with Xtranormal
1. Go to http://www.xtranormal.com/
2. Click on “create account” (top right hand corner) and sign up for an Xtranormal account. You can also sign in via your Facebook account. Note: users must be over 13 to create accounts (younger students can use their teacher’s account).
3. Click on “account settings”. This is where you can choose to filter content that is rated 13+ or 18+.
4. Click on “make movies”. Here you will be prompted to choose your “Showpak” (characters and scene).
5. Next, you simply write your script and drag in the actions to make the characters move, use expressions, change the camera angle and add sounds etc.
6. Under “Design the Scene” you can also change characters, soundtracks and sets.
7. As you work you can press “action” to preview your movie or “Take 5” to save it for later.
8. When you are finished, click on “It’s a Wrap” then write a title and description. Completed movies can be emailed, saved to a social networking site or You Tube, downloaded or embedded on a blog or website.
SOFTWARE VERSION OF XTRANORMAL
Xtranormal now has a program that you can download to your computer rather than making your movies on the net. It it is a beta software called “State“. State would be good to use if your Internet is slow and it also has the benefit of allowing you to record your own voice for the actor. Like the basic version of Xtranormal, State is free however it only comes with a choice of two actors and one scene. You can pay for more options.
USES IN THE CLASSROOM
Kathleen used Xtranormal with her Grade Two students to create movies where two characters had to solve a problem (eg bullying, problems at home, something lost, problem with school work). They wrote out their script in a writing lesson before using the online version of Xtranormal to create their movie. Click here to see an example of a completed movie.
Xtranormal could also be used to create:
* monologues about an opinion on an issue
* explanations of the school or classroom rules
* recounts of stories or events (eg excursions)
* explanations of scientific processes
* reenactments of historical events
* book reviews
Have a go at using it with your class and leave a comment to let us know how you went!
Look out for the fourth edition of “Tech Tools for Teachers” soon.
Simon and Kathleen