Xtranormal activity

My first experience with xtranormal, the online animation program, was through YouTube links sent to me by colleagues and friends. I found the movies, which transform written text to speech by selected avatar characters, hilarious. There is an impersonal quality to the dialogue and actions generated by the user that makes the whole scene quite farcical. The content, however, can be whatever the user wants to include.

So, I was curious to try the program out and share it with my students. Upon creating my first film, I discovered a few interesting facts about the site.

First, the free version is limited with respect to choice of characters, background scenes and effects. Once one has created a free account, one is given 300 “xp”, or xtranormal points to use towards these. Each character, scene and effect cost a certain number of xp, and if one exceeds 300, one is forced to get out the old credit card.

The lower-priced options are fine, however, and once one purchases an element, it’s his to keep. This does limit the creativity that one can bring to his productions, however.

The process itself is a lot of fun! First, I selected a theme. There are plenty to choose from. Some examples are “Celebz”, offering a host of famous avatars, “Pawz”, offering animal actors, and ” – self-explanatory. I chose “suits”, the office theme, and “2 actors” as opposed to one, to show the students an example of dialogue.

Next, I selected my background actors from a list of possibilities (I chose the cheapest ones), and selected their voices; both French so that my dialogue would come out correctly.

I was then asked to type in the text, which my actors would deliver as speech. This was also fun, as I had the opportunity to add movements and expressions and camera angles to my dialogue, simply by clicking and dragging the intended effect into the dialogue.

Before publishing my movie, I had the chance to see a preview. After publishing, I was given an account balance so I would know how many xp remained.

One thing I didn’t see was a way to embed or easily link my movie to, for example this blog…

I had a lot of fun creating my first little film, deciding to use it to introduce the activity to the kids, who will be using the program to present a piece of their recently selected picture books. I think they’ll have fun with this tool. More on that next time!

For now, I’d like to share the introductory film I created:

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