Tag Archives: the animation chefs

Manhattanville Arts Institute Instant Animations

Had the opportunity to be the final workshop guest at this year’s Summer Arts Institute at Manhattanville College in NY. (Thanks BIll Gordh!) This intensive course focuses early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school educators on the possibilities inherent to the arts. Educators encounter an in-depth arts experience via a variety of art forms: storytelling, music, creative movement, and the visual arts. Yours truly showed up with a bag of animation tricks to round out the week. But I discovered, with relish, the participants had created Balinese puppets the day before. I knew they were exploring puppet making, but actually seeing what they had created was a dream. The animations below only feature a few, but they all were wonderfully realized. I was jealous I hadn’t been able to make one myself.

I put away what I was going to do, and chose to animate one of the puppets, to demonstrate how to think about motion, in animation terms. Improvising with a puppet which had only one leg and one arm rigged for motion was a challenge. After about ten minutes this is what I rendered. (The audio was created afterwards in iMovie with instruments on hand)

I then had an opportunity to create a second animation with the entire class watching the process.

I broke the entire animation process into three segments:

Anticipation, Action, and Follow Through

Weight Distribution

Overlapping action

With these in mind, and a dragon with only the legs and one arm articulated, we did this:

We had a delightful time. We did all this in less than an hour. Not including the puppet building!!!

Bill was gracious enough to send me one of the feedback comments. It is instructive for all who’d like to try this and bring their creations to life, and more importantly, create an audience online for the performance.

(Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go into best practices in creating an online audience, but that is an entirely different workshop)

Anyway, here is what one of the educators had to say:

“The highlight of my week was the animation piece, in which our work became animated and put in action. It was exciting to learn how animators work. When I heard of the years that it takes to work on animation, I always questioned why these artists would be willing to work on it for that long. This is no longer the case; I began to love the idea of isolating movements, like we learned in the creative moment class, to create a living and breathing thing. The puppets came alive and developed personalities. I think this is definitely something that can be used in my classroom. I will work on trying to incorporate this building wide next year. I think my school district should make the software available for this process when they realize how powerful the experience of animating can be.”

Bingo. This is just what most people experience when they see how accessible this kind of storytelling can be. Once you pair it up with the unlimited possibilities having to do with creating an audience for your stories online, you move into hyperdrive and find the satisfaction that comes from preforming for an audience of raving fans.

Let me know what you think about these short clips. Can you see this exercise motivating those in your organization to pursue animated storytelling? Even if it is only for a blog?

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On Clouds, the iPhone, and the Future

When I fly, I often ask for a window seat if the departure lines up with a sunrise or a sunset. I have never lost my amazement for being able to look down on clouds. How long have we been flying now? 100+ years. What a mind-blowing experience it must have been to be above the clouds for the first time. Now people read the newspaper instead. I look around and see nobody in the other window seats looking out at the amazing shapes, patterns, and storms. How do we keep these kinds of experiences fresh? We seem wired with the ability to assimilate the most amazing things and turn them into everyday, ho-hum events.

Here’s another. The iPhone, wireless connectivity, and Youtube are migrating from flat-out-cool newness, to everyday realities for the masses, at least in my mind. But they came together in a “cloud” moment this morning. My 11 year-old is the caretaker of a lizard, an Australian Bearded Dragon to be exact. My job is to buy the crickets. So I’m in line at the pet store, waiting for my crickets this morning. The young man helping me is an Apple nut. I know this and ask him what’s new. He hands me his iPhone. After a quick tutorial, I’m surfing my channel on Youtube and with two clicks I’m watching The Animation Chefs promo. While I’m in awe of a pet store assistant who owns an iPhone, more impressive was the fact that I was watching a video, my video!, wireless, standing in the back of a pet store. I handed back the iPhone and my friend handed me a bag of fresh crickets.

Think about it.

SEO Infinite Suggestions

SEO is a field not short on info overload. I’ve just sat down to do research on SEO for this blog. Three hours later I’ve come to this conclusion: I’m doing it all wrong, and if I’m doing it right, I’ll have no life.

So to do it right, this is what I’ve learned:

• Get a real domain name and host a wordpress blog on that domain. Why? Better search engine rankings. Don’t do what I’m doing here, ie letting wordpress.com host the blog.

• Start a podcast to point people to your blog. Register the podcast with all the directories. Point them back to your site.

• Start a squidoo, wikipedia, guru.com page and point people to your blog. Why? To become known as the expert in your field

• Create a video about your blog and post it through TubeMogul to at least 12 video hosting sites. Make sure the blog is mentioned and it’s URL is prominent in the video

• Log onto Youtube, Myspace, Facebook, etc., from three different computers and start a conversation about your blog in the forums, comment pages,  etc.

• Use social bookmarking pages to point people to your site. Digg, del.ic.ous, stumbleupon, etc.
• Write and register your blog posts in article directories to drive traffic from those directories back to your website.

• Do not start a website, rather start a blog, give away content for free and charge for speaking engagements and forgoe the headache of a blog.

• Create a membership site to which you can re-route the subscribers to your blog via a newsletter. Think about the next three products you will market to the members and start creating them now.

• Fire your PR firm and get the traffic yourself by doing all the above.

I’m drifting a little here. The choices are bewildering. I’m looking for clear sources to help focus my efforts in a helpful, focused way.

To be continued…