Tellagami in Perspective
Site founder Steve Bambury takes a look at the marvellous Tellagami app and explains how to get the very best out of your creations.
Some of you know that my background is in film. My degree is in film, I worked as a film-maker before becoming a teacher and I still do a lot of film work with kids today. In fact some of my Year 6 students have just made a film that has been shortlisted for the Children's International Film Festival (good luck guys!)
As such, whenever cameras are in use in the classroom - and with the iPad they are increasingly now - I always try to help students fine-tune their framing and angles. Teachers often forget that filming really is more than just aim and shoot if it's done properly. I teach students the language of film and the ""tricks of the trade" - in fact I remember making a film with a Year 3 class ten years ago and watching them marvel at the simple trick of always filming the bully character from a low angle to make them seem more imposing!
Anyway, over the last three weeks, my students have been working on an inquiry project about mountains. They each chose a mountain to focus on and then "drilled down" to focus on a specific aspect of the mountain (wildlife, history, climbers etc.) The whole project was put together using a combo of Tellagami and iMovie in the style of a TV documentary.
What I found in the initial session was that they were in such a hurry to complete each avatar's piece that they often didn't fine tune the perspective and proportion used with the image. This turned into a blessing in disguise since we had just been working on these concepts in art as a part of a landscapes series. So we spent some time playing with the app and I challenged them to find the most ingenious ways to embed their avatar in the background image.
The results were astounding and in some cases very innovative. They would appear close to "the camera" then move further into the image to show the progression of time! Some would literally look like part of the image.
So how did they do it?
It's simple really, though easy to miss within the app. When you are on the screen where you actually record your narration, several extra options are actually available that allow you to control the perspective and proportion of your avatar:
PINCH ON THE CHARACTER = make them bigger or smaller
SWIPE ONE FINGER LEFT TO RIGHT = rotate the character horizontally
SWIPE ONE FINGER UP OR DOWN = pivot the character vertically
If you make the avatar small enough, you'll actually notice a small circular shadow at their feet. This can be useful in terms of lining them up to the background. The other key point in terms of perspective is to try and visualise where the "cameraman" would be standing then match the angle.
Take a look at the two example to the right which both demonstrate how effective this can be when the time is taken to match the perspective from the image to the backdrop. The first shows an avatar set against a low angle shot of the Burj Khalifa here in Dubai. Note how the second version matches the angle by tipping the character back slightly.
The second is based on an example a student showed me. She had an image of animal tracks for her mountain project that was taken from above. Having the character stand in front of the image ruined the effect of the presenter being there at the location. By tilting him downwards and using the shadow to line him up, it makes him more embedded in the composition of the overall image. Handily, the avatar's recognise that they've been tilted and maintain eye contact with the screen!
By ensuring that the character is in propotion to the elements of the image also benefits the effect a great deal. The slideshow to the right showcases some examples of the proportion being tailored to the background by using elements in them as measuring sticks to ensure the avatar is accurately sized. These markers range from trees, a cabin and even SPARK event organuser Mark Wood (on stage rocking one of his tasteful waistcoats whilst sharing his use of Twitter in the Classroom.) As with all things, it's the tiny details that can make the biggest difference and you'll find that this can make a big impact in the quality of your students' work with Tellagami.
It can even come in handy when planning an app combo using Tellagami like the ones detailed in my recent article The Chemistry of Combos. Take a look at the final example to the right. Art work has been imported and displayed in Gallery 3D and then an image screen grabbed from that app. The Tellagami avatar is then sized and placed into the gallery to discuss the work.
I hope you found this useful. You can find a short video tutorial that I put together below if you need more help with the interface within Tellagami.