Now your little directors can make their own movies with some help from their DreamWorks Shrek pals in Toontastic Jr.: Shrek for iOS devices (iPad version reviewed here). Using characters and scenes from the first computer animated Shrek film, kids will make a beginning, middle, and end, move around characters, record voices and then save it to view at any time.
Here’s how the flow of making a Toontastic Jr. movie works. You pick scenes to make a beginning, middle, and end using a slot machine kind of roulette. Then you’ll view each scene, and at one point in each one you’ll be able to move around characters and record voices while doing so. After that, pick a background song to reflect the mood of the action. Repeat this process three times and save your movie for others to view. Toontastic Jr.: Shrek also comes with StoryShare, a program that lets you email your child’s created movies to family and friends for them to view, too! By pulling down a bookmark on the title screen, parents can choose to purchase and download other Toontastic products, like the original game for older kids, or a version of Toontastic Jr. featuring generic pirates (that’s a lot more reasonably priced).
I only had a couple of nitpicky problems with this app. It helps to have the volume on so you know what to do next by listening to Shrek’s spoken instructions. I didn’t realize you could move around characters at first because the picture cues went by too fast. Also, during the slot machine sequence when you pick out your beginning, middle, and end acts, sometimes the scenes can repeat themselves. Which makes no sense. They could’ve adjusted the program so that wouldn’t happen.
However, despite the minor quibbles, Toontastic Jr.: Shrek is a cute little program for young movie makers. I especially liked the cartoony art direction, kind of has a LEGO/Playmobil vibe to it. No reading skill is needed; as there are spoken voices and picture cues to let you know what to do. Although they may need help typing in their name at first. And it’s certainly educational, too, because it teaches how stories have a beginning, middle, and end, shows how music can reflect moods, and promotes creativity. I can just see kids making little movies and running to their parents shouting, “Mommy, Mommy, look what I made!” Luckily the movies are short. If your little ogres love the Shrek CG films, they’ll be sure to enjoy this, too.