Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Voicemail from Christian

The kids have learned how to use the phone. With a little prodding, Christian is able to recall my cell phone number. This is a good thing.

Here's my favorite voicemail, that I have been saving for a while now.

(click here if you don't see the video)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Your kids, future movie directors.

Chances are if you're a parent, you already have a digital camera.

I mean, it's the thing to do, right? As a parent (especially a new one), you should take gigs and gigs of photos of your little ones drooling, walking, sleeping or even making weird faces. I certainly do it and my flickr account can attest to that, not to mention, memory is CHEAP!

So, here's a chance to put your kids behind the lens.

How? By making a stop motion video. It's actually pretty straight forward.

Here are the tools we used:

For you Windows XP users, you could use Windows Movie Maker. It's free with Windows XP SP2 and available here.

The Creative Process (total time: about one hour)

We had the kids put together a story line based on their interests. In our case, it was SpongeBob SquarePants. I'm sure it had something to do with them coming off of a Nickelodeon Marathon... It also helped that we had SpongeBob legos. So depending on what you have to work with go with what makes them (and you) happy. I'm sure with enough prodding we could have done a Star Wars themed movie, but, I digress.

When putting together the story we guided them to keep the story line short and to about four "scenes".

We then drew out story boards, just like they've seen on the extra features of many of the DVDs they have.

And starting building props and background images.

Production Process (total time: about one hour)

Once we had all the pieces that followed the storyboards, we set up the camera on a tripod in front of our workspace.

And, followed these steps.

  1. Checked background
  2. Place Props
  3. Place / Move Characters
  4. Snapp Photo
  5. Repeat
And that was pretty much it.
Editing (total time: 30+ minutes depending on your OCD)

Editing was pretty easy, details on how that was done can be found on my other blog, which highlight using the iLife '09 Suite on the Mac. Doing it on Windows is just as easy, just drag and drop.

Publish and Share

Then post up to your favorite video sharing site and share with your friends and family. Here's the fruit of the kids' labors.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Let your kids be heard!

Interactive technology is always fun, especially when it's something I could introduce to the kids and let them run with it.

One great example, which had Vivian occupied for a good hour, was Zefrank's voice driven drawing tool.

It's a little flash application that allows you to control a brush with sound. A low volume sound guides the cursor counterclockwise; a medium-volume will straighten the line; and, a high volume sound will lead the cursor clockwise. It's actually kinda neat.

Eventually the whole family was howling at the computer trying to do our own vocal etch-a-sketch-like artwork.

Here's Vivian's masterpiece as it developed.





Here's a result of playing Damien Rice's "The Blower's Daughter" to the tool.


You know, if you don't know Frank, you're missing out.

Follow him at and visit his site often for some happy distractions.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A fun and cheap activity with the kids.

If you're looking for a fun, cheap and easy activity with the kids, try mixing corn starch and water to make a non-newtonian fluid called oobleck.

This past Friday night, Viv and I thought we'd give it a try.

For those of you that don't know. A non-newtonian fluid is a fluid whose viscosity is not a single constant value, meaning that the relation between sheer stress and strain rate in non-linear.


Basically, in regards to our activity, our fluid acted like a solid when struck or abrupt force was applied. When left alone or little force was given it acted as a liquid. Check out this wiki entry if you're interested in more information.

Just in case any parents are interested in trying this, just know this:

  • it's definitely a fun and easy activity to do at home,
  • It's non-toxic,
  • can be very messy, and
  • skip the food coloring. Viv and Pxian's hands will be green for the next week.

The recipe we used was from this blog.

Here's the video from our experience.