Chris Drage
Screen AnithingsI suspect that many teachers steer clear of animation software because it appears complicated and time consuming, with little relevance to the SATS, targets and league tables that tend to drive primary and secondary education in England. Let’s face it, if a teacher won’t use a particular software resource then it’s doubtful that the pupils ever will.

However, Anithings could be set to change all that. Anithings actively encourages children's creativity, has huge cross-curricular potential, is simple to use and is suitable for all primary age ranges including SEN and EAL children. This delightful animation software encourages character creation and storyboarding and uses motion recording and tweening to create smooth animation.

Children can design and create their own characters and settings or use ready-made ones from the 'bank'. Stories are animated by simply dragging the timeline slider and changing an object’s position, colour or size, or by recording motion using the mouse to simply drag things around on screen. It is so easy to achieve delightful, animated stories.

The software has a storyboard mode so children can plan an animated story, add and arrange scenes, then choose backgrounds and characters. Anithings characters are created by combining simple objects. You drop shapes on top of each other to build up faces with eyes, mouths, etc. Snap objects together to make animated 'hinged' limbs. The bank contains a selection of ready-to-use characters which can be added by simply dragging and dropping.

Animation is achieved by simply pressing the 'Record' button and moving the character. The movement is captured and added to the animation. Animations can also be created by setting an object's properties. Simply drag the timeline slider to the required time position and move the object to its new position. The object will now automatically be animated by moving to the new position when the 'play' button is pressed. This is ‘Tweening’. Other properties such as size, transparency, colour and rotation can be added in the same way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_b5Ns2NkmQ

Anithings characters can each have speech bubbles to help tell the story. Audio recording is also implemented in the latest version and recording a character's voice adds another dimension to Anithings creations and can really bring animations to life. Lastly, children's creations can be uploaded to, or embedded in, a school's learning platform, website or blog.

I think that the huge charm of Anithings lies in the simplicity of the characters that can be created, the ease with which backgrounds can be created and coloured and the speech bubbles that can be added to narrate a story. Above all, what I like about Anithings is its completely intuitive approach so you end up thinking: "This is how animation software should work".

If the temptation to just explore isn’t enough to get you going, the publisher, Stripey Design, has a number of illustrated ‘getting started’ pages on the Anithings website. These are simple and effective, and if you follow them you will soon have a character’s eyes going round in circles and waving its hands or feet at you. You will soon find yourself breaking out in a wide grin – it’s guaranteed!

Animated stories can be created to link with almost any topic: fairy tales, pirates and Vikings are obvious candidates. With the addition of speech bubbles and voice recordings to the characters you can enable a storytelling medium to enhance and build upon literacy skills. Don’t be surprised if some of the best ones are done by the low attainers! They can produce very well animated work just using the simple animation options avaiable without going to the more sophisticated ones which will appeal to the more gifted and talented in the class.

Redbridge local authority in London recently trialled the software and put together an animation competition for its schools as an exciting way to encourage and enthuse their children in this environment. They have the added bonus of publishing their animated cartoons to the web or a learning platform.

Without a doubt Anithings has bags of 'smile factor' and is sure to be highly motivating and open ended enough to keep your charges interested and learning and to really focus on creativity. That goes for Year 6 as much as Year 2. Highly recommended!

Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose  5
Ease of use              5
Features                   5
Quality                      5
Value for money       5

Anithings
Animation software (for PC and Mac, downloadable), single-user licence £25, 5-user £70, primary site licence £250
Stripey Design, Sheffield Technology Parks, Cooper Buildings, Arundel Street, Sheffield, S1 2NS
Tel: 0114 2015708
Fax: 0114 2211801
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.anithings.com

Chris DrageChris Drage is a CISCO Regional Academy manager and an adviser and trainer with Central Brent Education Improvement Partnership. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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