Project Files: http://www.torreytrust.com/pages/hearty.htm
Class: EDTEC 561
I designed the short Flash animation, “Hearty,” for my third class in the Educational Technology program (561). After learning that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, I came up with the idea of creating an educational video about preventing heart disease. During my undergraduate years at UC San Diego, I majored in Visual Arts: Media with Film Emphasis. In this program, I produced a variety of action, drama, and expository films. However, I did not have any experience developing educational films. I also did not have any experience using Flash. I decided to take on the challenge of developing an educational animation in Flash to improve my technical skills.
Completing this animation required mastery of a new educational tool. I taught myself how to use Flash through a variety of tutorials. I started with the very first Flash tutorial, which involved animating a bouncing tire. After finishing the Flash tutorials offered by the program itself, I found a few websites with tutorials for more advanced animation techniques. Once I had the basics of animation down, I recorded the audio in iMovie and split it into 6 sections. I created six scenes in Flash (which I had learned how to do from Professor Hoffman’s Educational Video Workshop) and imported the audio. I started by creating a stick figure and soon learned that I could not turn the stick figure into a graphic because I had to move different parts of the stick figure in order to animate it. By the end of the animation, I had turned “Hearty” from a plain stick figure into a character that demonstrated the ways to prevent heart disease.
Problems and Opportunities:
The animation was a bit more challenging than I had expected, but this made it even more rewarding to finish and present to the class. It took me many hours to conceptualize ideas, such as how to animate an EKG line, and then to actually figure out a way to use Flash to turn my ideas into an animated video. The hardest part of animating was the tedious task of adding layers or animating frame by frame. I had to create 26 layers just to animate a 10-second clip where the heart fills up with stick figures one at a time. After I uploaded the movie to the internet, I discovered that it played at different speeds. On my home computer, the EKG line was perfectly matched up with the audio. On my work computer, the EKG line moved a bit slower. On my co-worker’s computer, the animation did not show up because he did not have Flash installed. This was an important thing for me to learn because in the future, I will need to consider what type of computers and software the audience will have and how this will affect the viewer’s learning.
Producing “Hearty” helped me realize that learning new software was not as hard and daunting as I had imagined. Being able to transfer what I had learned in the tutorials into the project was tough, but also really exciting. It was like taking a short class on how to speak Spanish and then taking what I learned and going to Costa Rica and communicating with the locals. What I learned from this experience is that the best way to learn a new program is to start with small bits and piece them together over time.
Field of Educational Technology:
Developing this animation has added another tool to my toolkit for educational technology. The reason that I have decided to achieve a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Technology is to find ways to help improve learning for students in all grade levels. Current students are a part of Generation Y (also known as Millennials or “Net Gen”). With the new generation of Millennials spending less time watching TV and more time interacting with technology and the Internet (Chung, Savage, & Zaner, n.d.), I believe that learning flash will give me the opportunity to add animation and interactivity to educational programs in order to attract the attention of the multi-tasking, digital, “Net Generation.”
Chung, K., Savage, T., & Zaner, M. (n.d.) 3° and the net generation: Designing for inner circles of friends. Retrieved from http://people.artcenter.edu/~echung1/threedegrees.pdf.