Friday 31 August 2018

3D Animation Junior Discovery session with Three Discovery

Last week my eldest son attended a digital class run by the renowned UK mobile network Three. We visited the Three Discovery centre in Swansea where he participated in one of their Junior Discovery sessions.

As he is very creative, loves technology and has a fondness for animation he chose the Junior Discovery 3D Animation session.

Arriving at the Three store he had an open mind and keen curiosity about what he would do in the session. The session was held in a separate room within the store that was stylish, comfortable and cosy but not claustrophobic thanks to the big window that looked out onto the store which let in lots of light and made the room feel bigger.

The session was run by the lovely Cerys who was very friendly and welcoming which was appreciate as my son was a mix of excited, shy and nervous. Her welcoming demeanor relaxed him and helped him enjoy the session.

There was only one other child who had turned up to the session. This did not detract from the session as each child worked by themselves each with their own iPad rather than in a group so more numbers were not needed. Whilst the fact that there were only two children in the session meant they both had lots of attention from Cerys, from what I understand all sessions have limited spaces so there is never too big of a group so that all children get help and attention from the person running the session.

Using the large TV screen mounted on the wall Cerys began the session by introducing the group to a free app available on android and apple called Toontastic 3D.

Toontastic 3D is a creative, interactive and engaging storytelling app that empowers kids to draw, animate, narrate, and record their own cartoons on their tablet, phone or Chromebook.

Showcasing the app on the TV screen Cerys highlighted features of the app such as interacting with the different setting, animating characters, adding yourself to adventures with photos and recording your own voice to bring characters to life.

The app offers three story arcs for digital storytelling - short story, classic and science report. As time was limited so that the children could complete a 3D animation during the 1 hour session the children were encouraged to make a short story which was broken up by beginning, middle and end.

Following Cerys’ display of the app on the TV screen the children began creating their 3D animation short story. With an iPad each they worked individually picking a setting (different settings could be selected for different parts of the story), their cast and then creating their story by animating the characters along with adding music and voices.

T grasped the app really quickly, figuring out by himself how to customise the colour of characters and how to animate the characters so they moved around the setting as well as interact with the setting. He loved playing around with the app and creating his own animation. He found adding the voices to the characters a lot of fun and loved the vibrant characters and interactive settings. 

He did find it a little tricky to time animating the characters with the voices but for a first go I think he did amazing and with practice I think he would master it quickly. Another little issue was he found it hard to quickly think of a story off the top of his head but once he had an idea he found it a lot of fun to bring it to life and was very happy and proud with his short story.

At the end of the session when the children had finished their short story they were invited to share their 3D animation with the rest of the group on the big TV screen. T was at first apprehensive and shy about sharing it but with some positive and friendly comments from Cerys and the fact that the other child was happy to share her creation he decided to share his too. This gave him a real boost of confidence and helped the session end of a high.

Before we left Cerys emailed us his finished 3D animation short story so that we could watch it again and keep it to remember his first ever Toontastic creation. He was also awarded a Discovery with Three 3D Animation certificate for completing the session which he was very pleased to get.

It was great that Cerys helped and supported the children taking them through the process step by step with hints and tips of how to use the app as well as highlight other features that they could use at home when they had more time such as the 3D drawing tools to design own characters and the longer story arcs. I also appreciate the fact that she allowed the children to dabble with the app by themselves, allowing them to try out the features on their own giving them confidence and a sense of independence yet still being at hand to help if they need it.

Due to unexpected family plans I had to take T’s little brother with us and I was apprehensive that he would be bored or be a nuisance. As the session was quieter than planned Cerys kindly let him join in too giving him his own iPad to use to create a story using the app himself with a little help from me and then when he grew bored of that she set up another preschool friendly app for him to play games on. He loved being part of the session and was overjoyed when Cerys awarded him with a certificate for coming to the session.

T loved the experience. Cerys was fab, she was brilliant with the children, really engaging and skilled at her job. The session was great for a fun filled time during the school holidays where not only did he have lots of fun but he also got to try something new and develop his digital skills by trying a new technique. It was fun, creative and educational. The Toontastic 3D app was fantastic and I cannot believe that it is free. T loved that his completed animation looked like a real film with credits.

The only downside to him enjoying the session and app so much that he wanted to use it at home to create more 3D animation stories was that he was very disappointed when we got home to find out that our tablets are not compatible with the app. This is a shame as even though he loved the session he cannot try the skills he learnt at home anytime soon as it is unlikely we will be able to afford to upgrade our android tablets or get an iPad for awhile. Regardless of this I would still highly recommend the Junior Discovery sessions and will look at booking him into another session in the future with the warning that we may not be able to get any of the apps they use at home to avoid any disappointment.

Astonishingly Three Junior Discovery sessions are free sessions! Currently the Three Discovery centres are in Swansea, Islington and Maidenhead. The Junior Discovery sessions include 3D Animation, Vlogging, iMovie, Newsreel, Stop Motion, Coding with Hopscotch, Podcasting and Garageband. They also offer sessions for adults too such as digital security, app explorers and mindfulness. Their sessions are suitable for both individuals and businesses and they also work with schools too.

1 comment:

  1. Oh that’s sounds good, and looks like they enjoyed it. I also ike the fact that they are free too.