Category Archives: By Kids

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Check out our Webshow!  The Animation Chefs show kids how to make their own movies with iPads and smartphones. Each episode is loaded with ideas for digital storytelling, custom animation, app reviews, secret recipes and so much more. Entertainment, education, engagment! For kids by kids.

Animation Chefs can be enjoyed on a number of levels. If you are between the ages of 6-16, it can be a great resource for ideas, how-tos, and entertainment as kids show kids how to make cool content with secret recipes, app reviews, demonstrations, storyboarding, sound design, etc.

For adults, you will recognize the principles behind media literacy, visual literacy, or 21st century literacy – whatever you want to call teaching kids how to make-meaning and express themselves with digital imaging/sound tools.

We think you will enjoy each episode of the Animation Chefs. Give them a try and see if you don’t look at the world of youth and media in a different light.

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Bon Animate!

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A Book Launch, A Gorilla Trek and Kids as Animators.

This Friday morning, if you are near your computer, tune into Scholastic, Inc’s website.  Scholastic Inc. is launching a new book here, and simulcasting the launch party over the web, from their auditorium in New York City. Insiders at Scholastic say this is one of the biggest launches since Harry Potter. Looking for Miza is the book.

Releasing a book today is almost like starting a new media channel. Not only will viewers of the launch party hear from the book’s authors, but they will also be able to read pages from the book, submit questions, find teacher resources, suggest solutions to the problems facing an endangered species, donate money to help the character in the book, join a “watch” community, and view animated movies made about the book, by kids from around the world.

What’s best about this story is that it is true. A real story, out of Africa.

At our house, we are especially excited about this release. Two of my boys and I spent June in Rwanda Africa with the book’s authors, workshopping animation with kids in Rwanda, and tromping around in the volcanic mountains with the Gorillas. I had the incredible pleasure to help the kids of Rwanda learn the craft of animation by producing two “gorillasodes” with young people a the Rwanda Cinema Center. The “gorillasodes” are now availble to view at www.miza.com. Look for them at the bottom of the page. They knocked it out of the national park!

Check out this Friday’s simulcast at 10:00am EST. You just may see us at the Gorillasode premiere at the the first ever Kids Gorilla Summit!

60 Young Filmmakers Freshly Minted – For Free

The New York Times was there last night at the Burns Film Center in Westchester New York, to see what all the excitement was about.

Soon came the stretch limos, the long yellow stretch limos, to launch 60 newly minted animators onto the red carpet for the world premiers of their short films. The kids milked it for all they could, saundering, posing, laughing, What a party!

I stood there clapping and whistling with the throng of photographers, screaming parents, and passers-by who were part of the spectacle. Joy, Cheer, Satisfaction, Respect, and Awe filled my being. My chest swelled with pride, as it has dozens of times before. All the training, editing, supporting, cajoling, and threatening was worth it. I had the privledge, a few years ago, to design this animation program for Burns, to help underserved 4th grade classrooms learn how to tell stories with video. We called it: Animation: Minds in Motion! Now I’ve helped Burns produce 14 festivals just like this one, and it always feels the same.

The Burns Film Center gets it. As does the Tribeca Film Institute. As does The Rwanda Cinema Center. As does USC’s dept. of Communication. As does Manahattanville College of Arts. As does Muhlenberg College’s New Film Program. As does the Academy of International Studies in Connecticut and NYU. As do many other programs for kids I’ve had the humbling opportunity to consult upon visual education principles. They envision the future of media education. They know giving kids relevant media education and experiences will boost the global competitiveness and the core life-skills of the next generation.

Kids today are rabid consumers of media from screens, but they have never learned to “produce” or “direct” their own content for these screens. They are more effected by the persuasible efforts of mainstream, on-screen media than by books, yet the ability to persuade and express via reading and writing, speaking and listening is the only literacy they are taught as “valid” in our schools.

That is why the Burns Film Center gets it.  They put the kid’s visual storytelling on a big screen and give the educators a big reason to take visuals seriously.

If I told you I could take your child and in a few short hours, show them how to make their own movie from scratch, and get them a world-wide audience for their movie, along with a walk down the red carpet in front of screaming fans, what would you think this is worth? What do you think would happen to your young filmmaker’s self esteem? What do you think it would do for their confidence?

From experience, I can tell you it reprograms their DNA.

Visual literacy is a stodgy, academic term use by many for what I’m trying to describe, I think this is about much more. This is about integrating all the literacies into powerful ways of expressing and persuading. It is about core life-skills.

You have to see it first hand. I can hardly put it into words. Which is the point. Seeing is part of communicating.

Does it matter to kids? It will be interesting to see how the New York Times describes last night, as we premiered 18 short films for the lucky kids of Westchester.

BTW, this non-profit event was graciously sponsored by local corporations and philanthropies. The kids participated for free.

Take a look:

Rwanda Gorilla Trek with a Conservation Podcaster

Recently returned from Rwanda, where amongst other things, we went up a volcano to see the mountain gorillas. Along for the trek was Paula Kahumbu from WildlifeDirect in Kenya, and co-author of the upcoming book, “Looking for Miza” – about a lost baby mountain Gorilla, coming soon from Scholastic and Turtle Pond Productions.

While the rest of us were armed with still and video camera’s, Paula had her audio equipment strapped to her side for podcasting the experience to her faithful blog followers. (I include myself now) She documented our journey via audio as we tromped through the stinging nettle and mud up to the Gorillas. Then as we encountered the Gorillas up-close and personal, there was Paula, microphone outstretched in hand, capturing the cacophonous sounds of the Gorilla habitat for her blog. This is what happens when you have an audience. This is what happens, and we’ve been addressing this for two years now, when you know you can make a difference with your story. I am inspired by her forward thinking, which includes organizing and encouraging many conservation-minded trackers and rangers to start their own blogs and communicate about the issues surrounding this endangered species. Check out her channel here.

She has also done a wonderful post about our animation workshop in Rwanda. Rather than toot our own horn, look at the post Paula has offered. Wonderful!

More on this exciting experience on the next post

Ten Year Olds Create Animated Masterpieces

This evening I’ll host a children’s film festival at a local theater. I’ve enjoyed helping young people create their own animated movies for years now, and the thrill of seeing them walk down the red carpet never dissipates.

Here’s a sample of what a youngster can accomplish with a little help, using simple paper cut-outs, basic editing and the condenser microphone built into the computer. I’ll post tomorrow about how the festivities unfolded. Meantime, enjoy this from a past festival.

Is your child the next Mozart?

With the ease of technology as it approves on the net, the options of content creation has become one that is easily accessible by kids. Yes, you heard right, kids are making video and posting it on the web. Sites like YouTube are giving kids the opportunity to express themselves in ways that are now turning them from passive spectators to captains of there own internet destiny, giving them the opportunity to hone their multimedia skills and join the world that is thriving around them.

There are at least 2 million kids who surf the Internet on a daily basis and 9% of those children are between the ages of nine to twelve. This portion of users are also webmasters creating original content that is both entertaining and relevant to their world, but also significant to the web in general. With 33% of that particular demographic planning to launch their own websites, this number of technologically creative kids is going to increase dramatically. Software providers and multimedia site companies have sensed this wonderful trend and are making themselves available to assist in this explosion of experience and learning.

One facet of this impressive kid-generated content contribution is music that can be uploaded online and broadcast to the world, letting the internet experience the true talent of your composing child. This is the perfect time to take advantage of this technological opportunity and allow your child to flower their creative ideas. Why now? Well Mozart began composing his timeless and beautiful works at the age of five! Well we’re way past the age of the clavier but there are computer-based avenues of content creation that are available to you child that can give them the head start in the creative world and give them the satisfaction, experience, knowledge and confidence that will set them apart, allowing them to join society as socially aware and responsible internet citizens.

Fleximusic, a reputable software developing company has heard the call of kid generated composition and audio. They have provided a wonderful new product called ‘FlexiMusic Kids Composer to assist your child in creating their first symphony of fun. With FlexiMusic, your child can learn the fundamentals of music and grow on that experience by making their own compositions and recording the result in music files that can be easily uploaded and streaming from the Internet, allowing your child to musically express themselves to the world. This content can be shared with other children, creating a network of creativity hitherto unknown to the youthful population.

Now if you can learn how to podcast, the entire world can hear your child play. How would Mozart’s father have promoted his prodigy today?

He’d be all over podcast world, and he’d probably set up a membership site to develop a fan base who’d beg for his son’s newest composition, which they would get via his sites’ RSS feed.

The Animation Chefs walk the red carpet!

Tribeca Red Carpet Walk

Events which transpired fast and unexectedly have led our family to walk the Red Carpet tonight at the opening of the Tribeca Film Festival. The founders of the film festival commissioned our boys to do Eco-friendly animations based on the popular children’s book Owen and Mzee: The Language of Friendship. We knew they wanted to use them for some “green” focused events, but we had no idea they would be featured on opening night, and that all my boys would be invited to walk the red carpet.

We have also been invited to host a tent, based on what we’ve accomplished with Owen and Mzee and animation. It will be on family day.
We’ll be doing live animation demonstrations and we’re creating new Hipposodes for the owen and mzee website. Should be fun!

Will post more on that later. To see some animations of Owen and Mzee, go to: www.owenandmzee.com and click on media center.

Tribeca Film Fest starts tonight. Click here for more info.