Movie Trailer Day 3: Shooting Film Stills

Today’s essential question: How can I frame well-designed shots in my movie trailer?

Featured Artist: Wes Anderson

Director Wes Anderson is known for his well-designed frames. You can stop one of his movies at any point, and it will look like a well staged photograph. Check out the examples below.

What photography techniques has he used in his films?

Moonrise Kingdom

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Today we will shoot photos to go along with the script. By the end of today’s class, you should publish a blog post with 5-10 still photos and a script to go along with those photos. (You can copy and paste the script from last class’s blog post.) Include links to any music you plan to incorporate. Use Dallas’s blog post as a guideline of what I am looking for.

Make sure you take a photo of every major part of your trailer in its intended location. (For example, if a serial killer stabs someone in the Media classroom, you need to take a photo of your serial killer character pretending to stab that person in this classroom. The point of the photo assignment is to make sure your intended characters and locations work the way you think they will.)

Today we will:

  • Discuss how to frame well-designed cinematic shots
  • Shoot 5-10 still photos that will serve as a storyboard for your movie
  • Publish a blog post with the following:
    • 5-10 still photos showing how you will stage the various parts of your movie trailer. Include a closing screen.
    • You will insert each photo alongside the relevant part of your actual script/voiceover. If you plan to use background music, name which part of which song you plan to use and why.

Movie Trailer Day 2: Script & Brainstorming Film Stills

Today’s essential question: How can I write an interesting script for my movie trailer?


Today we will work on our scripts and brainstorm the types of still photos we will need to take to storyboard the various parts of our movie trailer. Next class, we will shoot the still photos and publish a blog post with the still photos and script. Dallas has created an excellent example of what I am looking for.

You must publish a blog post with your completed script and still photos before you will be allowed to start filming your video.

If you did not publish your project proposal on Monday, please do so now, and then begin working on your script.

Today we will:

  • Publish a new blog post with the following:
    • the script for our movie trailer
    • ideas of the types of photos you will take next class to storyboard your movie trailer (ex. photo of the empty library, photo of the serial killer lurking in the shadows of the library, photo of a girl being stabbed by the serial killer in the library, photo of another girl running in terror through the library)
    • locations where you will take each photo


11th Grade Town Hall Meeting


Today the 11th Graders will have their town hall meeting in the Ensemble Theater at 7:45. If you have not yet posted your movie trailer project proposal to your blog, please do so now.

On Friday, we will write our scripts and begin to take still photos that set the scene of the movie.

New Project: Movie Trailer Video

cats-at-movies-300x281.pngToday’s essential question: How can I create a dynamic movie trailer with the resources available in this class?

For our next project, we will create a 60 second live action movie trailer using Adobe Premiere (if you choose to use a class video camera and computer) or iMovie (if you choose to use an iPhone or iPad). We will work in small groups to film, but each student must submit their own movie trailer. This means you will take turns filming and acting in each others’ movie trailers.

Trailers consist of a series selected shots from the film being advertised. Since the purpose of the trailer is to attract an audience to the film, these excerpts are usually drawn from the most exciting, funny, or otherwise noteworthy parts of the film. To avoid spoilers, the scenes are not necessarily in the order in which they appear in the film.

Most trailers have a three-act structure similar to a full feature-length film:

  • Act I lays out the premise of the story
  • Act II drives the story further and usually ends with a dramatic climax
  • Act III usually features a strong piece of “signature music” (either a recognizable song or a powerful, sweeping orchestral piece). It often consists of a visual montage of powerful and emotional moments of the film. Voice-over narration is used to briefly set up the premise of the film and provide explanation when necessary. Since the trailer is a highly condensed format, voice-over is a useful tool to enhance the audience’s understanding of the plot.

Movie Trailer Project Requirements

  • 60 seconds long
  • Good lighting, clear audio, and dynamic shots
  • Three-Act Structure
  • Voice-Over Narration
  • Visual Montage of Powerful / Emotional Moments
  • Signature Music
  • Movie Title and Credits (in movie preview format)

Sample Student Projects

Here are some movie trailers created by last year’s Media students:

Project Timeline

We will have 10 classes to work on this project.
The time should be spent as follows:

  • Planning – 3 days (proposal, script, still photos for storyboard)
  • Shooting – 4 days
  • Editing – 3 days
  • The project is due at the end of class on Thursday, October 4th

Part I: The Proposal

You should submit a completed proposal by the end of today’s class.
Your proposal should contain the following items:

  • Describe your movie. What is it about? What genre would you classify it? (eg. Action, Horror, Drama, Comedy, Documentary, etc.)
  • Identify your actors. They must be in this class.
  • Identify a setting for your trailer. Where will you film the action? (You may need to film in 2-3 locations for different parts of the trailer, but you must be able to film all locations during class time.)
  • Identify any props or costumes that you will need to bring in.
  • Describe how you will maintain the safety and integrity of your classmates and teacher during the filming of this trailer.

Today we will:

  • Introduce the Movie Trailer project
  • Brainstorm our movie idea and write our project proposals


Welcome to Media2!

back-to-school-cat-1Welcome to the Media2! In this class, we will explore a range of digital art techniques, including digital photography, digital illustration and digital painting, graphic design, video, and animation.

Today we will go over the course criteria sheet, look at some of the projects we will create this year, set up our Media2 folders in Google Drive, publish our first blog post, and play an icebreaker game to get to know our classmates. By the end of this class you should:

  • Create a Media2 folder in your school Google Drive account and share it with Ms. Lawson (
  • Publish your first blog post
  • Play the icebreaker game

Make sure you bring back your signed course criteria sheet and walking field trip permission slip next class so we can begin shooting video outside!

Part1: Overview of Media2 Projects

Here are some examples of the types of projects we will create in this class.
Which projects are you most excited by?

Part2: Creating a Shared Media Folder in Google Drive

  1. Log into your school Gmail account. (Username: student #; Password: same password you use to log into the school computers.)
  2. Click on the squares in the top right corner of the screen and select Drive
  3. Click on “New” on the top left side of the screen and then “Folder” from the drop down menu to create a new folder
  4. Name your folder “LastName_FirstInitial_Media2”
  5. Right click on the folder and select “Share.”
  6. Share the folder with me and make sure you give me permission to add items.

Need help? Please follow the following process:

  1. Check the blog
  2. Ask two classmates
  3. Still stuck? Raise your hand and Ms. Lawson will help you as soon as she is available.

Part3: Publishing our first blog post

Log into the WordPress account you used last year, and publish a blog post with the following:

  • A picture you took during today’s class (you may use either your cell phone or a class camera)
  • The answers to the following questions:
    • Name/Nickname (what you prefer to be called):
    • Preferred Pronouns:
    • Write about an artwork you made that you are proud of. If possible, include a photo of it in this blog post.
    • Why are you taking Media2?
    • What types of projects are you most looking forward to?
    • What (if anything) do you anticipate needing extra help with:

You must complete and publish this blog post in order to receive participation points for today.

Part4: Icebreaker Game

At the start of second period, we will play the icebreaker game. I have purposefully split up friends to encourage you to get to know the rest of your classmates. Please gather with the following groups:

  • Group 1: Danny, Omarion, Avery, Dax, Aquan
  • Group 2: Colin, Jamila, Shaborn, Rae’iona
  • Group 3: Seth, Hsa, Jaden, Passion
  • Group 4: Viviam, Raul, Carleton, Sylena, Eh Tha

Today we will:

  • Go over the Course Criteria Sheet
  • Preview projects we will work on this year
  • Create a shared Media2 folder in your school Google Drive account
  • Publish your first blog post
  • Play the icebreaker game

Blogging in the Art Room


Today’s essential question: How can I integrate a class blog into my instruction?

Reasons to start a class blog:

  • Communication with students, parents, and administrators
  • Creates a record of curriculum taught
  • Resource for differentiation (link to tutorials and bonus articles) and way for students who missed class to catch themselves up
  • Can be accessed from anywhere
  • Saves time
    • no more time spent at the copier – everything is online
    • can copy and paste blog posts from year to year

Reasons for students to have their own blogs:

  • Document evidence of student growth
  • Easy method of formative assessment for teacher
  • Way for students to communicate with the teacher and each other (via comments and references in blog posts); we refer to it as our “art class social media”

Pages vs Posts

There are two ways to add information to your blog – posts and pages.



Pages are accessible through the navigation bar, which is either at the top of your blog or on a sidebar.
Use pages for information you would like to reference throughout the school year. Useful page topics include:

You can organize pages and streamline the appearance of your blog by stacking multiple related pages under one heading. For example, under my “Student Websites” category, I have the current school year’s student websites, and all of my past years’ student websites listed below it. I follow the same organization system for my “Project Gallery” pages.




Posts are accessible on the home page, but only the most recent 1-3 posts will be immediately visible.
Use posts for information that you update on a frequent basis. Information that should go in a post includes:

  • Essential Questions
  • Learning Objectives
  • Step-by-Step Instructions for the day’s task
  • Expanded Learning Opportunities/Differentiated Links Relevant to the day’s task/topic
  • Announcements/reminders

Here are some sample blog posts for high school. Notice how it is written for high school students, but will work for the purpose of parent communication or to give an administrator a quick overview of the day’s lesson.

Here is a sample middle school blog post. It follows a similar structure as my high school blog posts, but is simplified for age-appropriateness:

Here is are some sample blog posts for elementary school, courtesy of Cassie Stephens. What are some ways she keeps families and administrators up to date on what is happening in her classroom?

When in doubt, create a post rather than a page. You can always link directly to the post if you want to reference it in the future.

Creating Your Class Blog

Part 1: Setting up a WordPress account

  1. Click here to set up a WordPress account. (This will be your Foundations 1 class blog.) You may choose any free template you like, but keep in mind that you will need to post both text and images, so you should pick a template that supports both of these requirements well. Use your school Gmail address (890… – you will have to verify your email in order to publish blog posts.
  2. Log into your school email account, open the email from WordPress, and click on the link to verify your email address.

Note: Once you set up your WordPress account, you will have the ability to create multiple blogs under that account. This is handy if you teach several different courses.

Part 2: Publishing your first blog post

Publish your first post by clicking on this icon at the top of your WordPress screen Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 9.49.23 AM
Include the following:

  1. Post an image by following these steps:
    1. Go to
    2. type in what you are looking for (ex. “cutest kitten in the world”)
    3. click on the image you want to download
    4. control +click -> save images as
    5. save the image to your desktop
    6. Click on the “add media” button Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 9.50.16 AM
    7. Click on “upload files” Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 9.51.03 AM
    8. Click on “select file” Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 9.51.20 AM
    9. Select the image you want to insert
    10. Note: You can also use the “Add Media” button to upload PDFs! It will display the name of the PDF as a link, and when students click on the link, it will load the PDF. This is a great way to share handouts, permission slips, flyers for enrichment programs, etc.
  2. Write any relevant text for your blog post. Ideas include:
    1. Welcome students to the course and introduce the curriculum, rituals, and routines.
    2. Create a sample daily blog post. Include an essential question, learning objectives, and any relevant instructional pieces.
  3. Add at least one interesting link.
    1. Click on the link icon at the top of the screen. link_icon
    2. Copy and paste the website address in the URL section, and write what you would like the link to appear as (ex. biography of Kehinde Wiley) in the “link text” section. Check the box to “Open link in new tab” so students don’t accidentally lose your blog.
    3. Click “add link” add_link
  4. Click “publish” at the bottom of the screen to publish your post. Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 10.12.00 AM

Animation Made Easy


Today’s essential question: How can I teach animation using my current classroom setup?

Animation is surprisingly easy to teach, and is always one of my students’ favorite units. Today’s PD will focus on low-tech animation methods that utilize equipment available in most district art rooms. These methods will work for grades 5-12.

Today’s presenters:
  • Stephanie Lawson, facilitator, Digital Art Teacher at School of the Arts
  • Tashi, teaching assistant/youth consultant, 7th grader at Arcadia Middle School

Today we will:

  • Briefly overview the history of animation and different animation methods
  • Create short animations using the following methods:
    • hand drawn animation
      • thaumatrope
      • flip book
    • stop motion animation using the StikBot studio app on our cell phones/tablets
  • Post our animations to YouTube
  • Collaborate with colleagues who teach similar grade levels to plan an animation lesson that is doable with your current classroom setup
  • Upload all resources created to the shared Animation Made Easy Google Drive folder

Part 1: Traditional hand drawn animation


thaumatrope.jpgA thaumatropeis an optical toy that was popular in the 19th century. A disk with a picture on each side is attached to two pieces of string. When the strings are twirled quickly between the fingers the two pictures appear to blend into one due to the persistence of vision. Thaumatropes are often seen as important antecedents of motion pictures and in particular of animation.

Play with the sample thaumatrope, then create your own.

Click here to view the PDF of the thaumatrope handout. (Feel free to download it and use it in your own classroom.)

Thaumatrope tips:
  • Draw your thaumatrope on card stock, or glue your thaumatrope images to opposite sides of a piece of card stock.
  • Preview flipping your thaumatrope before gluing anything to make sure nothing appears upside down when the thaumatrope is in use.

Flip Book

flip_bookA flip book is a book with a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion or some other change. Flip books are essentially a primitive form of animation. They rely on persistence of vision to create the illusion that continuous motion is being seen rather than a series of discontinuous images being exchanged in succession

Play with the sample flip book, then make your own.

Click here to view the PDF of the flip book handout. (Feel free to download it and use it in your own classroom.)

Flip Book Tips:
  • Use card stock – heavier weight paper works much better than thinner paper. If you do not have a light board and are using tracing paper, transfer each traced image onto card stock.
  • Only draw on the right half of the card stock – the left half usually is not visible.
  • Draw each frame of your animation on its own page in your flip book.
  • Use a light board or tracing paper to make sure you are lining up each frame in the correct position so your animation does not jump around.
  • Add 4-5 pieces of blank card stock at the end of the flip book. This ensures that you will be able to see the last few frames of your animation.

Part 2: Stop motion animation

Stop motion is a type of animation that is photographed one frame at time, with physical objects that are moved between frames. When you play back the sequence of images rapidly, it creates the illusion of movement.

Today you will create your own 5-second stop motion animation that brings a common, every day object to life. Check out the animated eraser created by one of my eleventh grade students, Andrew.

This animated keychain is another example of what I am looking for.
Look at how little the keychain moves in each frame:

The StikBot Studio App is set at a default of 10 frames per second. This means that you will need to take 50 photos to make your 5 second clip. Follow these steps from the iMore website to get started!

Getting started with StikBot Studio

  1. Download and Install StikBot Studio from the App Store.
  2. Tap Open.
  3. Tap the Video Camera icon.
  4. Tap OK to allow access to the camera.

Set your scene

At this point your camera will be enables and ready to start taking photos.

  1. Set you camera on a small stable location like a tripod for best results.
  2. Set up your initial scene.
  3. Tap the red face to take your first shot.
  4. Make a small adjustment to your figure. You’ll see a ghost image of your previous position so that you get the motion “just right”.
  5. Tap the red face to take your next shot. You’ll notice that the ghost image in now gone awaiting your next stop motion movement.
  6. Continue until you have completed your scene.
  7. Once you’ve completed your scene, tap the video editor icon.

Modify your animation

Once you have your desired scene completed, you can add sound effects, dialog, text, and items from your camera roll in the video editor.

  1. Tap the new scene you’ve created.
  2. You can preview your video by tapping the play arrow.
  3. Press the pause button to stop the preview.

Exporting and sharing

Once you’ve completed your awesome animation you’re ready to save and share it!

  1. Tap the export icon.
  2. Tap YES to save your movie to the camera roll.
  3. Choose your video format.
  4. Tap OK to allow StikBot to access your photos.
  5. Tap OK once the export to camera roll is complete.
  6. Go into your Photos.
  7. Tap your movie.
  8. Tap the Share icon.
  9. Select the method your wish to share your video. For this workshop, you should upload it to YouTube.

Part 3 (bonus projects for fast workers):

Turn your flip book into a computer animation using the StikBot Studio App

Now that you know how to use the StikBot Studio app, you can use it to digitize your hand drawn flip book. Take a photo of each page of the flip book. Use the ghost feature to make sure you are properly lining up each page to create a seamless animation. One of my seniors, McKenzie, used this method to create an animation of her cat.


Use sculpey to create a character, then use the StikBot Studio app to shoot a stop motion animation with the character. Here are some examples created by my students:

Part 4: Plan an animation lesson to use in your class

For this portion of today’s workshop, you may choose to either work on your own or with a partner/partners who teach similar grade levels. You will create a lesson plan that is doable with your current classroom setup, and upload the lesson plan and any related resources to the “Animation Made Easy” shared Google Drive folder.

Here are some helpful resources to get you started:

  • Artist/Art History Connections:
    • hand drawn animation – Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki, Salvador Dali
    • stop motion animation – Tim Burton, Art Clokey (creator of Gumby)
  • Elements and Principles – blog post explaining the principles of animation.
    Note: This is geared towards an 11th/12th grade audience.
  • Cross-curricular Connections:
    • Foreign language – animation created by one of my juniors, Yoly, to illustrate the meaning of a Spanish word to non-native speakers
    • ELA – review the elements of a plot as students plan their animations
    • Math/Science
      • experiment with different frame rates to see how it affects the animation
      • have students figure out how many frames/photos they will need to create in order to make an animation that is the required length
      • discuss how to animators use science to create more realistic animations (ex. a ball speeds up as it falls)