I recently launched a YT channel to archive short animations and films made at Floating Shape Workshops events. This will be a work in progress managing different videos and getting them uploaded as time goes on. So far, you can see things like the one posted below, as well the collaborative, some filmed flipbooks, and the live animation created at this past weekend's workshop at Thunder-Sky, Inc.
Below is a short cutout animated promo for tomorrow's workshop at the Price Hill Library. After the Mini Microcinema screens animated films in Spanish (Películas para Niños en Español) from the New York International Children's Film Festival, FSW will be having a flipbook workshop from 1-2 PM!
And here is a collaborative animated story from a few days ago made by seven children (ages 5-8) at the downtown branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati.
Thank you to Inhailer.com for having me over to their studio to be a guest on Brat Chat with Belinda Cai today. It was great getting to have an in-depth conversation about the formation of Floating Shape Workshop, our upcoming summer schedule, and how animation can be such a strong communication tool for children. There are no archived shows/podcasts yet, but when/if it becomes available in the future, I will certainly post a link.
Belinda even received the very first FSW button!
Here are some key dates for the Floating Shape Workshop this summer.
UPDATE: We have also since booked a workshop at the Price Hill Library on Saturday, July 22, a special flipbook workshop following the screening of "Films for Kids in Spanish / Películas para Niños en Español" courtesy of the Mini Microcinema.
Click here for the detailed full schedule including registration & sign up info. Some workshops, like the Price Hill Library event mentioned above are free and open to everyone!
The FSW will be doing a one week summer camp workshop this July. There will be a couple of more this summer, but this is the first one booked and currently taking registrations.
There are only a couple of spots left! See below for registration instructions.
I announced the Floating Shape Workshop a couple of months ago. It is a mobile version of the animation workshop I started teaching this year. I plan on bringing the workshop to other summer camps, libraries, and various other children's events/activities.
July's workshop should be a fun one, as it will take place at my good friend Tara's awesome shop/craft studio space, where I have done a couple of book reading events. Please check out the FSW tab located above on this website for a full description ... as a reminder, the workshop is recommended for children in a roughly 7-14 age range.
Floating Shape Workshop at Robot Inside / July 24-28.
Registration: Visit Robot Inside's Summer Camp page, scroll down to the camp labeled "ANIMATION WORKSHOP". Located there is a Paypal "Buy Now" icon. The registration cost covers all materials and supplies.
Thanks and perhaps I'll see you and/or a young one in your life there!
I had a blast at yesterday's special Earth Day reading of Tunnel-Ball. The duo dry erase/chalkboard easel (typically used in the animation workshop) was a nice touch that I plan to keep using in the future. It was great to get to utilize my silly book about a baseball team from Earth for a greater good. Afterwards, I got to do some request drawings for the young ones while they made their own seed paper, courtesy of Cincinnati artist-crafter Annie Roth. Thank you to pal Tara at Robot Inside for putting this one and for their week-long Earth Day festivities.
As an extended branch of the "animation workshop" class that I am currently teaching, I am introducing the Floating Shape Workshop (FSW). The FSW will be a mobile, portable version of the workshop. My hope is to introduce a short (one week to one month, varying) course at venues such as summer camps, libraries and educational events. Further details can be read in the FSW tab now at the top of this website.
I am very much looking forward to this. The first course is currently in the process of being booked for this summer and I can't wait to see the results. Until then, I will be compiling blank flipbooks and getting the clay and armature wire ready ...
I had been making lightboxes for my Animation Workshop class the cheap/generic way, by takingregular old plastic lightboxes and slapping a plastic pegbar on them. Truthfully, this method is perfectly adequate for what we do in the class, and the results have been great.
However, I am always keeping an eye out for used equipment (read: cheap), and recently came across a very cheap rotating animation disc (Cartoon Colour Co.) on eBay. I ended up being the only bidder. It is, of course, a remarkable sign of the times that this type of once highly sought after (and very expensive) piece of equipment would go for so cheap given that it is practically obsolete in the industry (my guess would be that the only place that typical discs/lightboxes are still prevalent would be in colleges where it would simply be too expensive to fill entire labs with Cintiqs or variations of it).
My extremely talented carpenter father helped build the wooden, adjustable base, cut a round hole in the middle, and voila. It is underlit with a thin board with LED strips, which works perfectly. It's a beauty and will be an awesome addition to the AW.
For whatever reason, I have never been the New Year's "resolutions" or looking back, retrospective type. As I sat down on December 31 to make this post about a new book, though, I couldn't help but to ultimately reflect on what has probably been the busiest, most productive year I have had as an artist-educator. So before I get to the book stuff, let me just take a brief minute ...
"Tunnel-Ball" was a truly awesome experience, and it's surreal that it was about ten months ago now that it was published and it seemed like I was spending much of my free time making felt pennants. The release party included the most fun book reading I have ever done to date, the book made it onto the shelves of a few of my favorite stores in the world, and even into the hands of an official MLB mascot. The most rewarding part of all, though, is just hearing the "it has been a bedtime story staple at our house" messages from friends, family, and strangers.
It was also an unexpected year of contributing a couple of pieces to gallery shows in tribute to two musicians who I had always considered massive inspirations (despite obviously bittersweet circumstances). I also did a Kreate-a-Kaiju workshop event, getting to spread my joy of city-crushing Japanese monster creatures with children and adults of all ages in a collaborative setting was simply remarkable.
Another major highlight was/is teaching the Animation Workshop, in which I am doing my best to attempt to create the type of class that I wish had been available to me when I was younger but didn't really have the resources to explore that big, confusing animation realm. I am doing my best to keep the content original, and most importantly: fun. I have big ideas for the AW, starting with gaining some new supplies and materials which should arrive before holiday break is over.
There was also this, which I hope to make in print form at some point in the new year (hopefully by September, which is ITP awareness month). It was also have a new, actual conclusion. would like to print a few copies just to give out or include with regular online store purchases.
Essentially, what I'm getting at is: thank you to everyone for their support in the past year (in any capacity, even if just briefly glancing at this right now), and now, a brief glimpse of one of the things to come in the future.
This current holiday break also means, as I originally eluded to, that I have officialy began the production of a new picture book. I have tentatively had this one in the works prior to Tunnel-Ball coming out, during the final stretch of everything being put together and sent off to the printers. However, as is typically the case, the entire story was reworked numerous times to get to what it is currently. I'm sure there will be plenty of updates here along the way, but all I will say for now is ...
- After a brief hiatus (Tunnel-Ball's b&w), the book will be in color
- It may or may not have words (!)
- There are tentative plans to have a broader scale expansion/"performance" of the book, expanding on how the T-B was done (see link to post above)
- That storyboard in the first picture gives nothing away (unless you can accurately decipher the "TBCP" acronym ... if that is even still the title by the time it comes out)
- The third picture is my brand new lightbox, which I'll mostly be using to make the book. The wooden part underneath was made by my (carpenter) father. I wanted a better solution to keeping the translucent surface underlit without just cramming a desk lamp underneath. This wood panel has a strip of longlasting LED lights that lights it up perfectly.
- Lastly, the final pic (a pencil sketch of one of the earliest pages), also gives virtually nothing away.
Last month, after making my poster for International Animation Day, I had mentioned how I had been teaching an "animation workshop" class since August. The class has kept me so busy on top of personal projects that I never really had a chance to post anything about it.
The idea came to me last year, when some students at the school I teach at had started asking me questions about animation. They would bring in DVDs of their favorite animated films, read stuff on the bonus discs, then ask "what is a storyboard?" or "what is an animatic?" It instantly reminded me of being that age and having the same questions, and just generally being awe-inspired and befuddled as to how these cartoons magically started to move on the screen.
Of course, when I was growing up in the mid-nineties, animation was in a bit of an odd transitional period. The big digital/Flash boom was on the horizon, but I was too young to have a grasp on any of that, and I was stuck hoping that the library or local bookstores had even one or two copies of books about the animation process (when they did, they were normally too intimidating, how-to books made by old master draftsmen teaching anatomical walk cycles). At that age, most of my animation was spent making flipbooks and trying rough animation on copy paper with a DIY lightbox, since it was essentially impossible to come by the proper type of supplies or equipment (notably a camera and cels). It is kept simple and mostly camera-free for a number of reasons, mostly due to the allotted budget for materials, and the fact that I am far from qualified to be teaching anything more advanced.
In the class, we have done mostly camera-less animation projects. Things like good quality custom flipbooks, working on basic movement the old-fashioned way (lightbox w/ pegbar and punched animation paper), and some claymation using Aardman's "AnimateIt" software. Considering nothing that we do is digital (outside of the claymation, the class is also a bit like stepping back in time. Creatively, I always stress that the class is just about "thinking visually". I am not so much concerned in highly disciplined and fundamentally sound works as much as I am the students just having fun putting their own ideas on the paper. The students are currently working on self-publishing their own class "coloring book" where they each contributed a b&w illustration, and will distribute them to the school.
Another major influence was reading a book about Yvonne Anderson's influential "Yellow Ball Animation Workshop" that she started in the 1960s.
A part of it is also the academic side of animation history when we are not diving in and getting our hands dirty ... learning of the the world outside of Disney/Pixar, both commercial and independent/experimental. We start each class watching a short from around the world. Consensus favorites so far have been Kaj Pindal's "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" (the song is now frequently sang), anything Miyazaki, and Nick Park's original "Creature Comforts".
It has been an absolute blast so far and I hope to keep it going, perhaps even as a traveling summer program of sorts. We'll see. Here are are a few photos ...
I made this poster to celebrate ASIFA's annual "International Animation Day" celebration today (10/28). Since August, I have been teaching an animation workshop class twice a week and it has been one of the coolest experiences of my life, Thus far we have dug into a lot of animation history by watching a wide variety of films both commercial and independent, and have done some basic animation from flipbooks to very simple exercises like the bouncing ball using the good old traditional way with a pegbar and punched paper. We are currently moving into the basics of stop motion using clay. The students designed their own IAD posters, too, as a culmination of learning to ink with a variety of different brushes/tools using a lightbox. More on all of this later. Until then, happy International Animation Day!