*A post in association with Sainsbury’s
As a tech-savvy family, we are always interested to try out new ideas with apps on our smartphones. So when we spotted that Sainsbury’s were advertising a new animation app for Christmas, I was quite keen to try it out and see if it was something that we could do together with Olly.
As we began to learn more about the Sainsbury’s Story Studio, we discovered that it was all designed to be used in conjunction with the film kit, entitled “The Greatest Gift”. Upon opening the package, that is available to buy in store or online, we were delighted to find that we had our very own miniature film set to play with!
As a Computing and ICT teacher, Shilts is also into animation, and regularly teaches various lessons on the topic, so he was also quite excited to put the app through its paces. The software is marketed as a stop-motion animation program, and together with the kit, we were able to start to put together some images quite quickly.
Stop-motion animation evokes thoughts of some famous cartoons, such as Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts, both of which are firm favourites in our household. It is the art of putting together a sequence of still images, moving items by a small amount each time, and when the images are played back in sequence, the illusion of movement is created.
In order to make the animation a success, it is important to do a bit of forward planning prior to starting to take photographs. We were pleased to find some storyboard templates included in the kit to do just that, and this would be a good starting place for any would-be animators. Once you have your storyline mapped out, it is time to set up your film set.
The kit comes complete with press out characters with their own stands, and also the box that the kit is packaged in can be folded in several different ways to give a changeable ‘set’. The storyline I had decided upon for this review was a family coming home on Christmas Eve after they had been out enjoying the festive day!
After settling upon a set design (I went for the inside of the house), and my three family characters and dog at the ready, it was time to launch the app. This is a free download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for Android. The app is easy to get started with, and there is an intro to watch if you want to get some additional guidance. The app also comes with a pre-loaded video to give you some ideas for starting, and it wasn’t too long before I had launched into our very own video.
The key to successful creation of stop-motion animation is patience. I did encounter a few teething troubles with characters falling over and then not remembering exactly where they had been, but once I got the hang of moving the characters, I was able to create my sequence of images quite quickly. It is also easy to delete images, (otherwise known as frames) if you have made a mistake, and the app allows for quick playing through of a sequence during the creation so that you can keep a check on your progress.
Once I had got my sequence created, the next step was to move into editing mode. Here I could move frames around if I wanted, add some background music, apply some filters to the images I had created, add some text, and then finally produce the completed movie. The app makes this process very straightforward and is very user friendly. The video, once finished is then easy to export out to either social media directly, or to be able to be saved to your device. The video files are quite large when saved, so just bear this in mind before you try to save it – your device will need enough storage capacity to handle the files.
All in all, the video was really easy to create, and we all had fun looking through the props in the kit and deciding upon our next creation! The app and the kit are very well designed, and work seamlessly with one another. You certainly don’t need to have any prior knowledge of animation to produce something that is very watchable, and the better you get at it, the more creative your movies will become. The kit would provide a fantastic way to keep the family entertained over Christmas, and it is something that everyone can get involved in so look out for it instore at Sainsbury’s now. Watch out Nick Park, the Shiltons are coming, ha!