Thursday, January 22, 2009

Will The White House Go Cutting Edge?

Eye-opening post about the Obama tech team trying to make sense of the antiquated technology in The White House.

Britannica Wikifies


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Creating Multiple Scenes with Storytelling Alice

I just had a great week teaching 6th graders how to program 3D animations with Storytelling Alice. (See here for more about the program.) But they also taught me a lot, because there were things I couldn't figure out how to do and their discoveries put it together for me. The biggest was how to create multiple scenes. Kelleher provides a sample animation you can access in the help section that sort of explains how, but wasn't explicit enough for me to get it. So here's how:
  1. First, understand that the default method, 'World.scene 1 method,' must be used as the method in which the first scene is scripted and an organizing method that will play all of the other scenes in your story.
  2. Add a few objects and characters to your first scene and click 'done.' You can go back and add more later.
  3. Program an action for one character in the first scene so you have something to see when you play it.
  4. Now create the second scene by clicking 'create new scene' and call it 'scene 2.'
  5. Add a character to it.
  6. Now change your current scene tripod to opening scene tripod and try playing the animation. You will see that the first scene plays but the second doesn't. We'll fix that.
  7. Up in your object tree click on the world object. You'll see the scene 1 method and scene 2 method below the tree. Drag the scene 2 method into the script area of the scene 1 method, at the bottom of what you already scripted. In this way, the actions of the first scene will play and then the second scene will follow.
  8. Now edit the scene 2 method and before any action in the scene occurs direct the camera to orient to that scene by clicking the camera in the object tree and dragging the 'camera orient to...' tile to the top of scene 2 method's script. Choose 'scene 2's tripod' in the context menu that pops up.
  9. Try playing the animation again and you'll see that the second scene now plays.
  10. Between scenes the camera swings wildly from one scene to the next. You can direct the camera to fade out before it changes orientation and fade back in when it's pointing at the second scene so you don't see the transition.
  11. If you want a title first, click the tab for the first scene in the scripting area, click the camera in the object tree and drag the 'camera show title' tile before the first action in scene 1's script.
You can program as many scenes as you want this way. The amazing revelation to me about this is that now I can see how the program allows you to direct not only the characters in the scenes but the camera, lights, and titles, giving you a lot more control than I realized. My students really took off with this once we all put it together.