BY REBECCAH HAINES

Have you ever wanted to make your own animated movie? The script, the soundtrack, the camera angles – if it were all up to you, you’d do an awesome job — probably better than Steven Spielberg, right? Well, move over Steve-o because with Xtranormal’s Text-to-movie website, you can create your own animated flick. Okay, so with the free version of Text-to-movie, your animated features probably won’t win an Oscar, but that doesn’t mean this product isn’t useful in the classroom. With a few simple steps, you or your students can create a movie. You could create a short animation giving instructions for a web-based project, or a sub plan for a day you will be absent. Your students can use it to demonstrate their knowledge of a classroom concept, or to teach a concept to another class or grade level.

Essentially, as the website says, “if you can type, you can make movies.” It really is that simple. In the free version, you can select a one or two character film, and once you do that, you just begin typing in your script. Within your script, you can add various features such as movements, camera angle changes, sounds and animations. You can modify your characters’ appearances as well as the scene in which the action takes place. A little instruction to your students beforehand about school-appropriate films will be necessary because you can make your character flip someone the bird, and there are some “non-school-dress-code approved” outfits in which you can dress your character. But overall, the school-appropriateness is high.

Now, the final product certainly isn’t as polished as you might create using other programs (e.g. the computerized voice and the odd way your character slurs some words), but, for something quick, easy, fun and pretty-good quality, look no further.

UPDATE 10/2/09: Xtranormal has an educators forum on their website, if you’d like to get more ideas on how to use it in class.

Xtranormal’s Text-to-movie website

The next Oscar-nominated animated film created by yours truly using Text-to-movie

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