It’s not just games. You can also use Scratch to program and produce your own animation movie. Your mini-movie can be about fictional stories but you can also use Scratch to animate research projects such as a mini-documentary about the water cycle or lions in the Serengeti.

Fly me to the moon

What’s the story?

Get pen to paper and write a simple story. Here is mine:

  1. Puppy and Butterfly meet outside. They say hello and butterfly asks Puppy what he’s doing today. Puppy responds that he’s going to the moon and invites Butterfly to come along. Butterfly agrees. They head towards Puppy’s spaceship together. 
  2. Spaceship launches.
  3. Spaceship flies through space towards the moon.
  4. Spaceship lands on the moon. 
  5. Puppy and Butterfly disembark the spaceship, walk along the moon’s surface and plant a green flag. Puppy says, “We’ve made it.”

Storyboard

We are still on paper, we are not yet on the computer. Sketch up the story into a storyboard. A storyboard is a way of graphically organising a story in the form of illustrations displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualising a movie. We do this to plan how to program the animation. It also helps us to identify how many movie scenes we will need.

Although there were 5 points in the story (see above) there are actually only 3 scenes i.e. 3 backgrounds:

  1. On earth
  2. In space
  3. On the moon

It will be handy to know how many scenes, or backgrounds, we will need because this will be a key component in programming our animation movie. 

First make a storyboard, a sketch of all the scenes in your story in chronological order. This helps us to plan how we approach writing the code to create the animation movie.
First make a storyboard, a sketch of all the scenes in your story in chronological order. This helps us to plan how we approach writing the code to create the animation movie.

Programming your movie in Scratch

3 movie scenes:

Three movie scenes: 1) on earth, 2) in space, 3) on the moon
Three movie scenes: 1) on earth, 2) in space, 3) on the moon

A key component of programming a movie is understanding how to move from one scene to the next. When the movie moves from one scene to the next a number of things happen:

  1. Backdrop changes
  2. Sprites* appear
  3. Sprites disappear
  4. Sprites are relocated

* A sprite is a character or object in the Scratch program. 

We want all these things to occur at the same time to set the scene. We do this by using the broadcast block. An event triggers a broadcast of the message e.g. broadcast “in space”. With this broadcast all the required actions are triggered: backdrop changes, sprites appear, sprites disappear, and sprites are relocated.

Key commands

  1. Use broadcast to change scenes
  2. Use broadcast to program conversations between two sprites
  3. Change size and directions of sprites e.g. spaceship launches up close and flying towards moon in the distance
  4. Hide and show sprites as required e.g. hide sprites when they ‘enter’ the spaceship and show sprites when they ‘disembark’ the spaceship
  5. Animating sprites using costumes
  6. Floating movement using ‘change x’ and ‘change y’ blocks i.e. butterfly flying

Now take a look at our finished product, “A trip to the moon – An animation movie”.