Debbie Williams, Computer Science, IT and Creative iMedia Subject Advisor
For our Cambridge National in Creative iMedia you have to choose one optional unit. All the optional units are non-examined assessment (NEA) where students are required to complete a set assignment.
For our Cambridge National in Creative iMedia you have to choose one optional unit to deliver. All the optional units are non-examined assessment (NEA) where students are required to complete a set assignment.
In a series of blogs I hope to give you a flavour of each unit to help you decide which would best meet your learners’ interests and needs.
All the units follow the same process where students plan, make and review a product. The only difficulty you should have is choosing which one to deliver – I would love to teach them all!
For unit R096, students have to create an original animation with soundtrack. Students will need to develop an understanding of the features and conventions of animation as well as knowledge of pre-production documentation. They will also need the technical skills to create both the animation and the soundtrack and combine them effectively. Finally, they will need to be able to check and review their work and suggest improvements and further developments.
There are lots of different types of animation including stop motion, flipbook, time-lapse and computer-generated (CGI). In this unit, students need to know the differences between them and the methods used to create them.
Students could be hands-on and have a go at creating different types of animation for themselves. They could go from creating a flipbook using post it notes to using claymation to a simple CGI bouncing a ball across a screen.
Students need to know the different types of audio included in a soundtrack including music, voiceover, foley and diegetic and non-diegetic sounds and how these are used to enhance. Watching clips of different animations and studying why the creator included the sounds they did is a great introduction to this topic. They also need to be able to understand how the properties of the audio can impact on the clarity of the sounds.
Students need to understand the conventions of animations and audio and how they can work together to meet a purpose. They need to have exposure to a wide variety of animations, especially where the original work differs from adaptations to see how effective they can be and to inspire them with ideas for their own.
This teaching content is vital to their success in this unit but students do not need to be able write about the theory of the conventions. As it is a Cambridge National qualification they need to be able to apply their knowledge and show it within the animation with audio they produce as part of the NEA.
The mandatory examined unit R093 includes synoptic topic areas including client requirements, audience demographics, ideas generation and the planning of media products. This needs to be taught before or as part of R096. Without it, students will not do well in the NEA as it forms the basis of task 1.
Much of the content of R093 applies to all media products but then needs to be applied in this unit. For example, the teaching content for topic area 3.2 in R093 covers mind maps and mood boards. Students should have the understanding and skills to create a mind map, for example to identify ideas that meet the client brief. For example they may choose to use a mood board to show their vision for the theme of their animation.
When it comes to the pre-production planning for the animation, they will need to use a range of techniques to plan. They should be able to choose from storyboards, scripts, timelines or graphic scores. It’s important in the teaching phase that they have had chance to practice these methods. You could give them a simple client brief for a short animation and ask them to produce pre-production documentation using each method. They can then develop their own preferences and way of working. We provide a template for the storyboard to support students.
Students should also be taught to create or source assets and provide details in an assets table. We provide a template for this and students should be taught to complete it and strongly encouraged to use it in their NEA task. For this unit, students will be expected to create or source both visual and audio assets and include them in the assets table.
This topic area requires students to demonstrate their skills in using techniques in the software to create or edit both visual and audio assets and combine then to create the animation. It is important – and reflected in the mark criteria – that students create and edit assets before combining them. Their marks would be limited if they edit/create additional assets in the final product that they hadn’t prepared beforehand.
The way that the tasks and the mark criteria have been designed requires students to edit all their component parts in strand 2a. This means that they should create/edit each asset for their audio and animation as separate assets (files) before combining them together in the animation creation software. Their technical skills for combining and creating a product suitable for the audience is then assessed in strand 2b.
There are a number of options when it comes to which software to use.
We recommend using image editing software to create or edit images, the same as is used for the mandatory R094 unit. The skills and techniques students need for both units are similar, so whether you teach here or have already completed R094 it will save teaching time. You may consider using the following software:
When creating the animation software you may consider using:
For audio editing software you could consider:
Lots of other software applications are available. If you aren’t sure whether one you want to use is suitable, you could check the specification for the skills and tools listed and see if the software has the tools needed. If you are still unsure you could contact our support centre.
The specification (page 55) lists the tools that can be used to create the animation with audio. You would need to teach students how to use these skills. Good practice would be to provide students with a copy of the specification during the NEA so they know which skills they need to evidence through screenshots to get higher mark bands. They don’t need to use them all, but we would expect them to demonstrate a wide range within the creation of their product.
It is not always clear what tools and techniques students have used during the creation of the product. If a student only provides their finished animation with audio it would is really difficult to award marks above MB1 in strand 2a and 2b. Teaching how to use screenshots to evidence techniques used (but not a step by step guide) would be worthwhile.
Students will also be required to save and export their animation with audio in a suitable format for digital distribution. This again links back to R093 and topic area 2.2: (properties of digital graphics), so teaching for this needs to be done early on in the course.
Once the animation with audio is complete, the final task of the NEA is to test and review it before offering improvements and further developments. We provide a test table template that students can use to test things such as the length, the animated movement, the format and the synchronisation of the visual and audio elements.
They are then required to write a review, assessing the appropriateness for the audience, purpose and client as well as conventions of the product. This shouldn’t be a lengthy document.
The final part of strand 3 is to identify areas for improvement (ways to make the content that is already present more effective) and further developments (what could be added, done differently or reformatted differently in a future product). Students are not expected to correct any areas for improvement or make any developments, just identify and comment on them.
I hope this has given you an idea of what R096 is all about. We also have a scheme of work that could provide further guidance on planning this unit.
We also have blogs for the other optional units, R095, R097, R098 and R099.
If you have any questions, you can email us at email@example.com, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_ICT. You can also sign up to receive subject updates information about resources and support.
Debbie joined the Computing team in September 2022, bringing her knowledge as a teacher and subject leader for IT, Computing and Creative Media. She has over 20 years’ experience of education working in various settings including state schools, private specialist provision, local authority, and as a marker and moderator for exam boards. She has a degree in Technology Management, a PGCE and a Masters in Teaching and Learning.