Anyone Can Be an Animator!

Here’s something I’m sure every child and teenager (and mother!) would love to learn how to do. It is really easy, doesn’t need much equipment and the results are spectacular. …
The other afternoon Sophie remembered a book I’d given her for her birthday: “Mum, do you think you can help me made an animated movie? Please?” She thrust The Klutz Book of Animation towards me, with a hopeful look on her face.
Normally I ask Duncan to help the girls with these kinds of projects. He’s the movie expert in our family. But Duncan wasn’t home so it was up to me to work everything out.
We needed only three things to get started:  
An animation software program, SAM Animation
A laptop computer
A video camera (one that allows you to stream video onto your computer) or a webcam.
We downloaded SAM Animation onto my laptop. There is a free demo version available. We were able to upgrade to the full version without payment because we own the Klutz book. But we could have bought a full licence for $30. Downloading was quick and easy.
Callum gave me his (inexpensive) webcam to use as a camera.
We were all set to go.
The SAM program is very easy to use. I found some online tutorials to help us. 
I then read out the instructions from the Klutz book for the first project: The Epic Crawl of Red Blob. It didn’t take long for Sophie and Gemma-Rose to make their very first animated videos.
It really was a simple matter of…
Making a red blob creature out of plasticine, and adding googly eyes. 
Connecting the webcam to the laptop computer and aiming it at the floor.
Placing the blob on the floor, at one side of the field of view.
Pressing the ‘capture’ button.
Moving the blob slightly.
Pressing ‘capture’.
Repeating the last two steps until the blob moved out of view.
Saving the movie.
I uploaded the girls’ videos to Youtube so we can share them on our blogs.
Yesterday afternoon, I worked out how to add audio to the animated videos. There’s a tutorial for that too. I downloaded a free zip file of sound effects. Then I showed the girls how to add them to their creations. It wasn’t difficult and only took a few minutes.
Sophie also had a go at editing the frames of her movie by duplicating them and reversing their order.
Here are a few videos the girls made. Please share them. It won’t take long to view them. They are only 4 seconds long!

There are lots of other animation  projects in the Klutz book. The girls want to try all these: 
Model Car Mashups
No Handed Eating
The Nightmare Before Breakfast
Magic Shoes
Space Hero
Clay Hero… and others.

If you’d like to see some examples of Klutz animated videos please visit this page

I always assumed making animated videos would be a complicated process, needing expensive equipment. But it’s not. Now that the girls know how to use SAM, they will be able to make more videos on their own. 

The Klutz Book of Animation is easily available. I bought it from a local shop, but it can be bought from Amazon or direct from Klutz.

As you can see… Anyone can be an animator!

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    • Amy R
    • October 13, 2012

    I can't believe it! I'm the first person to see Red Blob! I love them all. I wish I could do all that too, but our laptop is off limits for downloading things.

    I am pretty sure Anne knows how to do movies and such onto the computer, but I don't. It's very hard for me to learn tech things. VERY hard. It took me a year to learn how…oh I'd better not say. But you get the idea!

    I so admire how you figure out how to do such interesting things!

    1. Reply


      Thank you for taking the time to look at Red Blob! I couldn't believe we only had 3 or 4 seconds of video after an afternoon of filming. I can understand why animated movies take so long to make.

      I really wanted Duncan to help the girls with this project. My brain almost froze when I thought about having to learn something new. But now I have conquered the SAM software I feel good! I am now encouraged to learn how to use our flip video cameras – the compact video cameras that connect direct to the computer using a USB terminal. We've had the cameras for over a year and I haven't yet read the manuals! I must admit, when there's a lot of print to wade through, my poor near-sight-challenged eyes protest.

      You are sensible about not downloading stuff off the Internet. There's always risks. I hate having to get rid of bugs but it doesn't stop me downloading… This program seems okay though.

      The girls will be so thrilled to hear someone stopped to look at their videos. Thank you!

      • Amy R
      • October 14, 2012

      Surely I'm not the only one to see the videos…it's neat how even something so simple as Red Blob can be sooooo entertaining. Do your daughters know how to use the flip video cameras already?

      Good luck with that! (I first typed "God"…caught it, and then started thinking, I ALWAYS mean "Catholic luck", which of course is God's providence.)

    2. Reply


      I had a look at Youtube and the videos have had a few page views, not a lot, maybe a dozen or so. But on the whole, I think no one is really interested in animation. Not the most popular of posts! Never mind. We had such great fun making Red Blob regardless.

      I think Imogen knows how to use the flip cameras but the younger ones don't. We shall learn together. Perhaps I shall soon have more videos to share!

      Catholic luck? I like that! I usually type od bless instead of God bless, and then have to go back and add the G.

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