Tag Archives: visual literacy

Highlights from Our Animation Festival

Here’s a re-post of the clips from our Animation Festival in New York last night. As per many of you requested, her’s the 16 world premieres and standing room only fest in NY! We could have run the city for days on their energy. You had to be there, but this is the next best thing. I am very proud. Another 200 kids are now film makers, stars, and distributors!

Fun with Wordle

If you haven’t used wordle to play with text in a non linear kind of way, check out my doodle this morning. It can be addicitve.

Give it a try. Take your favorites saying or quote and play with it ad infinitum .

French Powerpointers Vs. American Powerpointers

I’m going to post on a visual topic without using visuals. Not good. But this is an anecdote from a dinner conversation I thought would be worth noting.

A friend who teaches entrepreneurship for a major university in New York City relayed the curious incident which follows. When he found out my passion is visual literacy for young people,  he was quick to point out his gladness that someone was teaching American kids to communicate visually, then gave his reasons why.

He teaches his entrepreneurship class to mostly French speaking students. Why this is I’m not sure. He notes the stark contrast in visual styles between the French powerpoint presentations, and the US student presentations.

When US students in the class fire up powerpoint, he says, it is the usual bullet-driven, too-small-font-laiden, no-design-beyond-templates visual drivel.

The French students, by contrast, rarely use powerpoint for their presentations. They use interactive-flash, quicktime wired, animation suffused, movie clip peppered, flip video staccato cut “experiences”. (his words)

This is how they (French students) come in from the start. This is the way they’ve been taught to communicate persuasively. I indicated they have been taught visual communication skills as part of their primary and secondary schools in Western Europe. By some estimates, they are 10 years ahead of the US in this respect. Additionally, they are having fun communicating. They feel the need to entertain as they inform.

The US students are trying to catch up.

Ever try to play catch up to someone in college when they have been perfecting their skills since 4th grade?

Seems the US is still not churning out the globally competitive communicators from our high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. A/V is still a nice extra, but not a core literacy competency.

Too bad. We need more global competitiveness these days, not less.

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:

Where will the next Spielberg come from?

With films such as Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg opened our eyes to social aspects of conflict and the human struggle that have plagued our society since the dawn of recorded time. Visual communication, in its many forms, helps us learn from our past, appreciate the present and prepare for the future. We can only hope that this tradition of storytelling will continue in future generations. By preparing our children now, we can ensure that visual storytelling will continue to spiritually edify and intellectually inform society. There is only one question left to ask, what is your child doing now to prepare to tell visual tales for the future.?

According to recent surveys, 24% of the 34.3 million child and teen internet users are visiting virtual worlds each month, the numbers of youth passively watching internet content has grown exponentially and is expected to climb even further in the future. This unbelievable amount of youthful Internet traffic can be directed toward learning rather than couch-potato observation. Your child as you well know has a world of stories to tell and with the advancing of technology providing ease of use and your child’s inherent savvy for all that is new, this opportunity of important and relevant expression is more accessible than ever before.

Kid-generated video is a stepping-stone to opening your child to a world of experience, learning and opportunity. It allows them to express themselves in a format that is familiar to them and through uploading this creative material it creates an active scholastic playground for other children their age and the Internet in general. Being able to communicate their world hones the analytical talents of your youngster and allows them to define their experience in realistic terms that will give them necessary social skills, develop their ideas of commitment and increase their awareness of their surroundings.

Many major media provision sites have seen the light of future media generation and distribution and provide an online venue for your child to offer their ideas to others in an informative and palatable format. Companies like Yahoo, Google, and Disney have opened their content doors to facilitate your child’s creative adventure. With popular children’s programs like iCarly, your child has the opportunity to take advantage of online venues to share their ideas with others and start forums of discussion that are both enjoyable and relevant to their lives.

Sensing this growth in expression, companies are also gearing their video equipment for use in a youthful environment, by providing easy operation and durability to allow your child to perform their video exploration with both acumen and safety. The options provided are extensive and this equipment can be sold in packages that allow your child to create, edit and upload their material with built in solutions. This allows your child to concentrate on their creation rather than having to spend frustrating hours in the set-up process.

For instance, Toyquest is at the forefront of kid-generated video equipment with their provision of the product known as the RipRoar Creative Station. This kid-generated video package contains the basics combined with extras that will open a treasure trove of creative possibilities for your child. It includes an easy-to-use camera, tripod, editing and FX software, green screen and a built-in uploading capability that allows your child to automatically submit their material online. It is designed for kids that are 10 and above, providing an avenue of creativity that will allow them to define and express their world and communicate issues that are important to them in a enjoyable environment, turning them from passive viewers into positive contributors. Artistic creation not only will develop their growing mind and soul, but it will also prepare them for entrance into society as active participants who are willing to engage their world for the better.

Reading Project heads for final phase.

I’ve been developing a marketing plan for a series of early readers called “Spot On Reading”.

Here’s a brief video introduction:

This has been on the shelf for a few years, the marketing plan that is. The publisher and I have had it on eBay off and on for a few years and we’ve sold half the first printing. The material is now ripe for the broadband market. We are putting together a package of tutoring materials for parents and tutors who want to put topspin on the reading instruction their youngsters receive. This is will be a video/print/online download model. We’ll have it up Jan 08 in it’s final form.

Wanted to post the “infomercial” here for readers interest. Enjoy.

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.