Doctoral Internship: Creating Machinima for Language Learners
This semester, I participated in the CreAting Machinima Empowers Live Online language Teaching and learning (CAMELOT) project funded by the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme. The purpose of the CAMELOT project is to provide language-teaching resources for English as foreign language instructors, as well as to share the technological and pedagogical expertise on creating and adapting their own machinima for the classroom. Machinima are screencasts of animation in virtual worlds to create movies. I interned for a grantee in the project, Heike Philp of let’s talk online, sprl. My primary goal was to learn the craft of machinima in order to assist with the production of machinima in Second Life™ (SL) utilizing Camtasia Studio video production software, as well as to produce supporting how-to guides. My personal goal was to become adept at producing media for young children.
I received wonderful guidance from Heike Philp, my intern supervisor. She spent numerous hours with me inworld and in webinars hosted on Adobe Connect. We met in an SL sim she owns called EduNation. Sometimes we sat around a campfire to discuss the various issues I was having in SL. Other times, Heike or her co-moderators led training, machinima screenings, or live film shoots. They invited us to collaborate on group projects. The volunteer moderators of the workshop provided ongoing activities beyond the confines of the 5-week training. For example, in the sixth week, we were challenged to create a lesson plan to accompany our machinima for a CAMELOT competition in the SLanguages Symposium on February 28th.
To create machinima, you need characters. You can ask others to star in your production or serve as extras in the background. In my case, I decided to become a character in my own simple production. Ms. Philp bestowed upon me a great gift of Linden dollars to purchase a new avatar. Now I am a grey cat that looks lifelike and makes cat sounds. I love it! I wanted to be a cat that had animated features for filming purposes. I had previously selected a tabby cat avatar from the freebies but found that it did not have the same movement capabilities of human avatars. Now with this new Zooby cat skin, I can do several actions like sit, clean myself, nap, run, purr, and meow.
I want to use this avatar cat in a machinima about my children’s story, Kanimambo, Charlie Makako (Translation: Thank you, Charlie Monkey). This is one of the stories that I hope will be selected for future CAMELOT projects. In the story, one of the things that the cat does is dance. I tried the different gestures provided in SL affordances. I can move his legs from side to side as if he’s dancing. I can also change the cat’s physical attributes to make it look more like a monkey (e.g., elongate tail), which is one of the characteristics of the cat’s character. Here are two of the machinima I created this semester: (I hope to add more to these to embellish the story.)
1. Adventures with Charlie
2. Cast Party at the Castle
Sandra Rogers, PhD