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Frequently Asked Questions

The school clubs we offer provide children with direct indoor/outdoor experience of making a movie scene, as well as using a free/open source program with hands-on, tactile and experiential exposure to the fields of 3d design, 3d printing, maths, physics, and even learning to program.

What’s the educational benefit here?

The great thing about the context of the Movie in the Playground clubs is that all these quite heavyweight subject areas are introduced in a non-academic, fun way.

Kids learn by taking part not just in the use of the software, but also in

  • art and literacy (through scripting and storyboarding)
  • geometry (though creation of 3D objects)
  • physics (by “playing” with forces like gravity, with particles, smoke, ice and other effects)
  • maths (through hands-on experience of concepts like scale, location and rotation)
  • film and photography (taking phots, using video equipment)
  • team work and collaboration (through understanding and experiencing the inputs and outputs of the group)

3D movies are cool, but 3D software is also used in many sciences, in art, in architecture and more.

Exposure to what can seem to be a daunting and complex software package, at an early stage – and then discovering it’s not so daunting or complicated once you’ve had a go – can be a really empowering, confidence-building experience. One that kids can take forward into their secondary school years and beyond.

Learn more from these FAQ for schools, parent, coaches and pupils:

How can I get my school involved?

Getting a school involved starts with telling us about the school, and the school about the Movie in the Playground project.

You can do that directly, or just start now with our search facility – it’ll help you find the school you’re interested in, show you the stage we’re at with them and, if appropriate, provide a registration form.

Fill in the form, and it’ll be sent to us (and not to the school).

We monitor the interest in the project school-by-school and make contact with each school as and when there’s demand.

What does the course cover?

The club sessions take pupils on a journey from a starting script, into a number of exciting subject areas, for example:

  1. Story boarding. Creation of the visual guideline, where each scene change is represented by an image and supporting notes.
    • Core practices: artistic layout, sequential drawing, teamwork, taking direction, being deadline oriented, communicative, flexible and adaptable.
  2. Camera. This will often involve a simple phone or tablet camera but could also involve use of an SLR or other still camera.
    •  Core practices: Composition, steadiness, understanding lighting and shadow, focus, taking direction, respecting equipment. Possibly some green-screen work (depending on the script).
  3. Computer animation. Guided use of 3D animation software to create a personal piece of animated art (animated into the final scene) and experience animating a rigged character (such as a transformer or a T-Rex).
    • Core practices: Computer skills (UI navigation and mouse skills), 3D object creation and manipulation, layering and compositing video and computer-generated elements, learning to track footage and work with keyframes to creat animation.

How are the coaches qualified?

In addition to being DBS (formerly CRB) checked, our coaches have demonstrated a baseline level of experience with a software package called Blender, a 3D animation program used in the production of visual effects and film, as well as animation.

Coaches are often students in higher education, studying film production and using Blender regularly. As such they are passionate about their subject area, and are an energetic and engaging source of fun and knowledge for the children.

Some coaches are in the workforce already, working freelance, as full timer in professional CG animation studios or in other vocations.

Are the coaches CRB checked?

CRB checks were superceded recently by DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks after the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) merged.

All coaches must have an up-to-date Enhanced level DBS certificate
in order to be allowed to coach 3D Movie School Clubs..

What are the ICT requirements to run the club?

The only requirement is that pupils have access to the Blender 3D software.

Blender can be installed on Windows, MacOS and Linux. For installation details please visit the Blender website.

 

Blender hardware requirements
Hardware Minimum Recommended
Processor 32-bit dual core 2 GHz CPU with SSE2 support 64-bit quad core CPU
Memory 2 GB RAM 8 GB
Graphics card OpenGL card with 256 MB video RAM OpenGL card with 1 GB video RAM (CUDA or OpenCL for GPU rendering)
Display 1280×768 pixels, 24-bit color 1920×1080 pixels, 24-bit color
Input mouse or trackpad Three-button mouse

How long does the course run?

Clubs run during term time, at school, and are usually held immediately after school, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, over eight to ten weeks.

Can the club run during school hours?

Sure! The only barriers to that will be your school’s timetable and the availability of a coach who can fit in with it.

What about weekends?

If your coach can do it and your pupils can get there, then why not!

What is Blender?

Blender is professional, free and open-source 3D computer graphics software, used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, interactive 3D applications and video games.

Blender’s features include 3D modeling, texturing, character rigging and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, soft body simulation, sculpting, animating, match moving, camera tracking, rendering, video editing and compositing.

Alongside the modeling features it even has an integrated game engine.

Is Blender really free?

Yes! Initially distributed as shareware, in July 2002, Blender’s creator Ton Roosendaal started the “Free Blender” campaign, aiming to open-source Blender.

In September 2002, funds had been raised and the Blender source code was released. Today, Blender is free, open-source software and is – apart from the Blender Institute’s two half-time and two full-time employees – entrirely developed by the community.

What will my child get from this club?

There are an incredible number of benefits to children who get involved in the creative and technical aspects of animation and film.

From the standpoint of goal-direction, children are working towards a very exciting end-game – that of having helped to make, and perhaps be in, a CG animated scene with their classmates and a genuine CG animated creature, or well-known special effect. So there’s a huge fun element driving their motivation.

Creatively speaking, children will be engaging in scripting, making story boards, creating an animated “thing” (usually their name with a CG animated effect added) and actively working out their amazing imaginations.

And without necessarily being aware of it, by using the 3D software, they’re being exposed to concepts like 3D geometry, physics, maths, science, colour theory and more. Yet because they’re just “using a program to make a cool scene” the work is more like play, and the technical stuff doesn’t need to be mastered. This club is about introducing these concepts early, in a way the kids can relate to.

Vocationally, the children will gain an understanding that the individual efforts they make are part of a wider range of possible future careers – from architecture, to scientific simulations, to art and creative industries like game design and of course, movies!

Isn't 3D animation too hard for kids to learn?

The clubs are pitched at children aged eight and up. As such, the more difficult or attention-sapping elements of the 3D animation process aren’t delved into very deeply, if at all.

But if you think about it, kids are watching, and interacting with 3D all the time. Computer games on PCs, game consoles, phones and tablets use 3D animated objects a lot, and kids grasp the fundamentals of controlling these objects amazingly fast.

The same goes for 3D animation programs like Blender. While there is a lot that you can do with Blender, to actually creat cool animations, what you really need is calm guidance and a little bit of patience. Remembering which button does what is closely aligned to remembering how to control game characters – and kids are hard-wired to play!

How long does the course run?

Clubs run during term time, at school, and are usually held immediately after school, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, over eight to ten weeks.

What if I don't want my child to appear in a video?

While the aim of the school club is to make a video, not everyone is comfortable with their child actually being in one.

All pupils are encouraged to contribute to every stage of the production, from script through animation, using the camera and so on. The final piece credits all participating pupils by first name (subject to parental approval) so every child can refer to the final product and say “I did that, see – there’s my name to prove it”.

Who are the 3D Animation Coaches?

All coaches are experienced with a software package called Blender, a 3D animation program used in the production of visual effects and film, as well as animation. Coaches come from many walks of life, but usually they are themselves students in higher education, studying film production and using Blender regularly.

Others are in the workforce already, working freelance or full time in professional CG animation studios.

You can find out more about Blender and what you can do with it, here.

Are the coaches CRB checked?

CRB checks were superceded recently by DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks after the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) merged.

All coaches must have an up-to-date Enhanced level DBS certificate
in order to be allowed to coach 3D Movie School Clubs.

How do you safeguard apprearance on video?

Appearances by children on video sharing sites like Youtube can make some caregivers uncomfortable. So, we make sure we gain the approval of all those responsible for the safeguarding of their children, before we commit to a particular outlet for the final video.

Depending on the mix of permissions obtained, we may opt for one or more of

  1. ensuring a child does not appear on camera,
  2. ensuring the video is only sent to parents/caregivers on USB,
  3. only allowing the school to host the video on the school’s website, or
  4. publishing the video to Youtube.However it should be noted that once we distribute the video to parents and caregivers, there’s nothing to stop those recipients from publishing it on Youtube.

How to you safeguard photo appearances?

Photo appearances (used in blog posts on the 3dMovieSchool.Club site) are usually “behind the scenes” shots of the pupils working on various aspects of their club’s movie project. And, as with video, we gain the permission of every parent or caregiver before photos of each child are published.

How will you use the photos of pupils

Whether on video or in behind-the-scenes stills, all images are used only in the context of the club activities that take place.

3D Movie School does not permit use of images by third parties without the express permission of every parent or caregiver, and we retain the copyright to all images and videos.

It should be noted however that once online, images can be copied and used by others without our permission.

What is Movie of the Month?

Each time we complete a school club, any finished movie scenes (that we are permitted by caregivers to use publicly) are published on the site. Each month we highlight what we think are the standout videos, and these feature prominently in the Movie of the Month section.

What is the Whiz Kids section about?

Each club group is offered the opportunity to participate in our Whiz Kids section. This is a “how-to” guide we’re building over time, where a practical, simple tip or trick for saving time or improving something in the film or animation pipeline, is explained on video by one of the pupils.

Usually, the pupil

  1. volunteers,
  2. is permitted and
  3. is nominated by classmates.

It’s an entirely optional activity, and as with all appearances, is subject to parental permission.

Can I pay online?

We can take PayPal payments for all clubs that have an “accepting bookings” status. Search for your school to discover its status. If payment online is possible, you’ll see the Paypal button there.

Can I become a 3D coach?

Anyone can be a 3MovieSchool.Club coach! All you need is time, and a baseline of skills. Check our Work Opportunities section for details.

Can I nominate my school to take part?

Definitely! Use the search tool (on every page) to find your school, complete the form and we’ll take it from there.

But don’t stop there – share your news with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. The more nominations a school receives the more likely it is that a club can take place there!

What's involved in being a coach?

Coaches are asked to follow a simple lesson plan, with the objective of creating a short composited scene or scenes, starring the pupils, a big CG asset like a T-Rex, transformer, light sabre battle or similar.

The kids are coached during the course of each club, on how to create an asset of their own which is composited into the scene along the lines of the loose script/storyboards worked out by the group.

As a coach you will be confident with groups of 15 or so pupils aged 10-11.

As well as guiding the kids technically to create their own simple animations, you should be ready to put on your director’s hat to keep the project on target. You might need to wear a rigger’s hat to put the final polish on a T-Rex walk, or your compositor’s hat to get 3D and real-world assets looking photo-realistic. Ultimately, this is a challenging role but it’s right up your alley if you’re thinking of CG as a career option. So put it to work now and gain from the experience! More on work opportunities here.

What if I'm good in another 3d program like 3DStudio, or Maya?

You’ll need to spend a bit of time getting to grips with Blender! Because Blender is free, the entry barriers for schools and for the parents of those kids who join up, are low. So we use Blender exclusively during the school clubs. For an understanding of the coaching baseline, click here.

What's a CRB check, and why do I need one?

All coaches must have an up-to-date Enhanced level DBS certificate
in order to be allowed to coach 3D Movie School Clubs.

At the time of writing these cost £44. Unlike the old CRB checks, there is no expiry date on a DBS certificate and it can be used for more than one placement.

If you would like to have the cost of your DBS certificate refunded in full:

  1. Register your interest in coaching with us
  2. Get your first assigned school from us
  3. Get your DBS certificate
  4. We’ll refund the cost in your first pay.

What sort of time commitment am I looking at here?

Clubs typically run one day a week, for about an hour, but up to 90 minutes a session. Usually, clubs start at 3:30pm or so and will run for a term, or a half-term. You should allow for a single club to take up 8-10 of these sessions, plus and additional 20 or so hours. Use our earnings calculator to find out how coaching could work for you.

If you can make yourself available to run clubs during school hours, we’ll try to find a school local to you that can accommodate that, during ICT lab time.

Do I need a teaching qualification?

No formal qualification is needed to coach an after-school club. However to meet the quality standards of 3DMovieSchool.Club, you do need to be able to demonstrate competency in our baseline areas.

Is this a structured course?

There is a structure, however there’s also lots of room within it to exercise creative freedoms. We recognise the need to remain flexible and adaptable in creative industry, and we encourage it!

Keep in mind the overall objective for each pupil is “to help make and be in a movie scene with a CG character, your friends and your own CG object”.

How can I use this on my CV?

Working as a CG coach during your studies in HFE is a great way to show future prospective employers your commitment to your chosen vocation.

Put it on your CV – it sure beats saying you spent three years flipping burgers!

How could this fit into my study timetable?

Only you can answer that one. Timetables need to suit both the school and the coach. If you can find a day a week after school hours to coach a club, we’ll work with you to find a school with capacity.

Do I need my own transport?

Ideally it would help in many cases, although, if you can get around to your assigned primary school without it, then great!

Is coaching something only tertiary student may do?

Certainly not! Anyone over the age of 18 who knows Blender and fits our requirements for competency can become a club coach. More on work opportunities here.

When can we start?

That’s up to a couple of things.

First, your school has to agree to make a time slot available for running a club. That could mean an after-school club or one that takes place during school time, in your ICT Lab.

Second, we need to make sure we can get a coach to your school who can work with that timetable. Once those two bases are covered we can start planning your movie project!xt.

What kinds of cool creatures and effects can we do?

We’ll be using a program called Blender 3D and it’s awesome.

It’s possible to create dinosaurs and animate them, add special effects like light sabres, wands that ka-pow, trees and grass, mountains, pretty much anything – the main limits will be time and complexity.

Some things are surprisingly easy to achieve – others can take a bit longer.

How can I tell my school about the club?

Tell a teacher, write to your head, raise it in a school meeting – or just use our online school recommendation tool.

We take online recommendations directly to schools and explain what we offer, once we have enough interest from a particular school.

So go on, recommend your school and who knows, maybe we’ll see you soon!

Can we make a movie about anything?

Well, that would be nice, but we do need to keep in mind a few things that could make that difficult. Things like time and complexity.

Kids have amazing imaginations and incredible ideas, but translating them to a computer animated movie scene in just a few hours could be challenging!

So we bring a few script outlines along with us, together with a range of exciting 3D characters (such as the transformer, a T-Rex, and so forth). Once we show you what we have to work with, you’re asked to be part of the process of deciding what we’ll make, using the items we have available to us.

What will we actually do in the club?

You get to be involved in a lot of the steps needed to make a computer-animated scene with real actors in it.

Things like writing scripts, creating story boards, doing the camera work, creating computer animations and putting it all together using Blender 3D – all this is covered in a typical school club.

I'm a bit shy about being in a video

Don’t worry – being in front of the camera isn’t for everyone. Most movies have loads more people behind the scenes than on camera, and there are TONS of things to work on in a project like this.

My parents don't want me to be in the final video

That’s OK by us.

We just want to be able to give you the chance to make a real movie scene – but you don’t need to appear on camera.

If you and your parents are OK with it we will add your name into the credits to tell viewers what part you played behind the scenes.