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1. Short description of the Web 2.0 application or open source software application

Xtranormal (http://www.xtranormal.com)

This is both an open source and a web 2.0 application.

With this application, you can easily make custom animated movies- and easily share them on websites such as facebook, youtube and twitter. You can also watch movies made by others

2.Describe the target audience for this software.

The target audience for this software is anyone really! It is advertised that if you can type, you can make a movie, so as long as someone has SOME computer skills, then this software should not be difficult to use. I don't see this appealing to any one specific age group, just anyone that has in interest in making an animated movie, with no experience required.

3. What is the purpose of the software? How does it work?
The purpose is to create 3D movies in real time very easily. It advertises that you could even use it to tell a funny joke or send a personalized message to a friend. 
You start by choosing the number of characters (1 or 2), their voices/accent, and type out the script. It has Automatic Lip-Sync. You type. The 3D actors speak. It's that easy.

It also has Drag-and-drop Animations. Quickly bring your characters to life with a drag-and-drop
animation system. Even change camera angles with ease. 
It has the option to email, share or save the movie when complete.

4. Describe the user interface. Is it easy or difficult to use? Why or why not?
The user interface is very easy to use, especially after sitting down with it for 5 minutes. To be honest it took me longest to figure out if I had to actually download anything (since there is an online version and a version to download for the PC). Once that issue was resolved and I realized that I had an option to use either version, everything else was point, click and type! For someone who doesn’t want to, or isn’t that computer savvy, they can rely on a Magicam option for automatic camera switching instead of selecting camera shots, making and saving their own setup.

5. Technical requirements. 

Minimum Requirements
Windows XP Service Pack 2
1GB of RAM
64 MB 3D Video Card with DirectX 9 and Vertex Shader 1.0 support
1.8 Ghz Single Core Processor

Recommended Configuration
Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista
2GB of RAM
128 MB 3D Video Card with DirectX 9 and Vertex Shader 1.0 support
3.0 Ghz Single Core Processor or 1.5 Ghz Dual Core Processor

No software has to be installed unless you want to download STATE, which is a free version to use on your own PC (that you can use without internet access). Speed and interface are similar, but not identical. There is a big difference in which characters and scenes were able to be used. The online “text-to-movie” version has more free “sets” and characters. 

6. What browsers does it work with? 
None specified. To use to online “text-to-movie” nothing needs to be downloaded at all. STATE (the downloadable application) just listed minimum computer requirements (as discussed above).
I’ve personally tried the application with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. It worked great with all of them. 

7. What are the strengths of this software application?
The strength of this software application really has to be its ease of use, and of course the fact that it is free to use (with limited scenes/characters though). 

8. What are the weaknesses of this software application? 
I personally feel that the biggest weakness was the voices! Some of these movies come out amazing, with great scripts, but when the characters actually start talking, it is so mechanical and robot sounding, that it really ruined it for me. Even though there are numerous accents and voices (which is a plus), they ALL sounded so robotic that at some points I couldn’t even make out what my own characters were saying in a script I created! I feel that if students used this, that the lack of being able to make out what characters are saying could lead to a very unproductive and a possibly chaotic day.
There is no closed captioning option for individuals who are hearing impaired or deaf. 
Another major weakness was that scenes and characters are VERY, VERY limited, unless you pay for more. 

Right now, STATE (the downloadable PC application) is only available for PC. Mac users could still use the online version though (text-to-movie).

9. Provide at least three examples of how you might use this in your science teaching.
1. I could make a movie to introduce/reinforce/review a unit or concept.
2. I could have my students make movies in groups to touch upon different topics and then collaboratively watch them.
3. I could give students an option for a project (report, skit, song etc.) and this could be the newest addition to the list of options. Great for someone who is creative or shy!

10. Include any tips for science teachers.
TRY IT BEFORE YOU USE IT IN THE CLASSROOM! The robotic voices could REALLY bring about chaos in a classroom if no one could understand what is going on, it could turn into nightmare! The fact that there is no closed captioning doesn’t help either. Other than that, the whole concept of these easy to make videos would be great for a science classroom! I am hoping for an update or a similar program!
If I were to use it in the classroom though, I would advise to give a short demo, even though it is extremely easy to use. This way you can reinforce which version to use etc.
Also, remember that State and Text-to-Movie are two completely different platforms, technologies, and marketplaces with different feature sets and capabilities, meaning it's not possible for a character or set you bought in one to show up enabled in the other at this time. And lastly, everyone needs a username and password. That might be a headache if students start forgetting their personal information.

11. Any other comments

Supposedly, educators are granted free access. However, this is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. You are supposed to contact them by creating a new support ticket. Assuming they are able to verify your status, your account will be credited. If this works, then it would make the application a million times more useful, especially in a classroom where there are 30 students and only 2 different characters/scenes to choose from on the free version.