With summer winding down (must resist inclusion of "where does the time go?" trope ...), I wanted to mention a few things about the various Floating Shape Workshop projects that have taken place the past few months.
- The Cincinnati Film Society was kind enough to publish an article that overviews FSW's (past and present) happenings this summer. Thanks, CFS! Speaking of our latest collaborative film, it was recently submitted it to an international youth animation festival. Fingers crossed.
- At the end of July, we did something brand new: hosted a workshop in which we created a collaborative short film, completely live. FSW was set up at 5th annual Good People Festival in Covington, Kentucky (we were there last year making flipbooks & zoetropes) alongside our pals at Robot Inside. I animated a short introduction and then had a live set up with a camera, animation rostrum and basic supplies. Then, each child/family who passed through while at the festival had the opportunity to add to the film by creating their own short scene (via either a simple cutout animation or filming a flipbook). It was an experiment in the truest sense of the word, but I was pretty proud of how the final result came out. I would estimate that about 25-30 children added to it in some way (pics and video below).
- Finally, our last workshop of the summer will be this Sunday, as will be hanging out with the Mini Microcinema during the annual "Second Sunday on Main" celebration in Over-the-Rhine. This is a free flipbook workshop for children. The previously scheduled workshop on August 15th at Westwood's "Wooden Hill" is currently being rescheduled for a future date.
I spent all of last week helping to make a collaborative animated film with 6 young children. Floating Shape Workshop hosted a week-long animation summer camp at Robot Inside. It was a great time, with each young animator collaboratively contributing to writing & storyboarding (14 pages!) pieces of the plot, as well as individually creating & animating the characters/backgrounds. The film is titled "Sammy Stingray and the Digestive System". It is about our protagonist stingray who learns about the digestive system in school, before being swallowed by a shark and managing to swim his way out with that knowledge.
Below is the video and some pictures from the workshop. Thank you to my pal Tara Heilman and her always welcoming & comfortable Robot Inside workshop space for hosting us! Getting to do these kinds of longer format workshops with more attention to detail (five sessions in 3-hour blocks) is simply fantastic.
Here is the full schedule of Floating Shape Workshops events this summer! For further/detailed info on the individual workshops, click the FSW tab above. As always, each event is a little different (as such, costs also vary ... some free, some require registration).
This month (July), we are excited to be hosting a week-long summer camp at Robot Inside (coming up in just a few weeks, and space is almost full!). Each attendee will be making their own animated film over the course of the week. We will also be returning to the Good People Festival over in Covington, Kentucky for the second straight year. This year, we have a fun & collaborative, live animation project planned for anyone who comes by.
In August, FSW will host a flipbook workshop with the Mini Microcinema as part of the annual Over-the-Rhine "Second Sunday on Main" celebration. Our last workshop of the summer will be at Wooden Hill, located in Westwood.
On Saturday, I hosted a wonderful, all-ages Floating Shape Workshop at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
All-ages events are always some of my favorite, because while FSW is primarily a children's workshop, seeing families attend and animate together can be a very beautiful sight and experience. Sometimes, the biggest smiles can come from parents/adults when they end up surprising themselves by making an incredibly fluid flipbook and then film it to see it play back on the screen. One family of four at this event each created their own flipbook & short cutout/claymation experiment. Excellent!
Also, before the event got underway, the workshop attendees got a brief guided tour of some animation-centric photography exhibits in the museum. The museum currently displays Eadweard Muybridge's sprawling 1877 "Panorama of San Francisco", and of course we then got to look at the classic "animation locomation" examples via the zoetrope.
It was a truly fantastic and unique workshop. Thank you to the Art Museum and their Rosenthal Education Center space for having me, I hope to do it again in the future.
... and here were the flipbooks that were made at the workshop (the first hour was flipbooks, the second was experimenting with 2D and stop motion methods). I love the spontaneity in the results when you give both children and adults blank flipbooks and see what they come up with. From bouncing balls to an anti-pollution message to a shark eating a boat to an anthropomorphic slice of pie.
This Saturday (November 25), I will be hosting a free autumn Floating Shape Workshop at Robot Inside. From 10-11:30 AM, come by to make your own flipbook or zoetrope, plus experiment with all kinds of mediums at various animation stations (drawn, claymation, cutouts). As an added bonus, November 25 is also "Small Business Saturday", and my pal Tara's RI shop is a great place to support that, with just about everything imaginable available from all sorts of local artists/crafters/makers.
What I love about these free, community events is that they are open to everyone of all ages. While FSW is primarily a children's workshop, it is always great to see entire families come and make animation together, with no upfront costs or preregistration. You can just walk in and contribute to a live animation project. Hope to see you there!
Here is a recent interview I did with WVXU, our local NPR-affiliate station. I got to talk all about Floating Shape Workshop on the Sunday evening "Around Cincinnati" program and had a blast. Thanks, WVXU!
The last Floating Shape Workshop event of the summer has come to a close, and it's hard to believe that our inaugural round of summer workshops are over. Given the late start, I originally thought we might host about just a couple of workshops this summer, and we ended up doing seven. Workshops were almost all hosted in unique & welcoming, community-oriented venues. I had such an absolute blast at all of them.
It is difficult to squeeze into the paragraph of a blog post, but I am so thankful, humbled, and optimistic about the future of Floating Shape. Organizing a sustainable, welcoming animation workshop for children in the Cincinnati area has been an idea of mine for years, and it took teaching it as a class (and a lot of inspiration from Yvonne Andersen's book about her seminal children's workshop in the 1960s) to really move forward with it. From there, it was just creating the name and logo, and getting some unique venues to host us. Being able to provide children with the supplies and education to explore and engage in animation as an artform and communication tool (both independently and collaboratively) has been endlessly rewarding. In my experience, quite a few children have had an interest in creating animation, but might have not had the resources to expand on (either from a financial or education perspective). That would, of course, also describe myself growing up.
Thanks so much to all of the venues and festivals who hosted workshops, and to everyone who helped out and participated. A very special thanks to the Public Library of Cincinnati, who hosted multiple workshops at a few different branches. They also posted a couple of excellent photo galleries here. Bias aside, we are fortunate to have a world class library system which I utilize constantly.
The FSW is already booking workshops for the fall/winter. While the calendar will not be as plentiful as summer (as I will return to teaching full time), the plan is to continue to hold workshops throughout the year, primarily on weekend dates. In the immediate future, FSW will have a booth at the Westwood Art Show next month, and in the coming months, we will have re-rescheduled workshops at Robot Inside and the Play Library. If you are interested in hosting a workshop, please contact me via the link at the top of this page, or e-mail email@example.com
Here are a couple of my favorite pics from the summer's workshops ...
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!
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 ...
Yesterday afternoon's "Kreate-a-Kaiju" workshop event at the Play Library was a success and a total blast! Thanks to everyone who came out and made kaiju with me. The coolest part, by far, was the diverse mixture of both new and familiar faces, ranging from families with young toddlers to adult couples who got their hands dirty and made Japanese-inspired, city-crushing clay monsters. We even had a Japanese visitor (who had moved her less than two years ago), who had heard about the event on social media. She carefully sculpted her own "Booska", and taught me the correct pronunciations of several kaiju.
Here are a few pics from the event. Also, if you came out, when my illustrations of your kaiju are complete and ready for pick up at the Play Library, I will be posting about it here. The Library will also be posting about it through their usual means. I hope to have them finished within a couple of weeks.
(the "Tunnel-Ball" mugs make their in-person debut)
There is going to be a really cool event coming up a few Saturdays from now. On July 23rd, I am teaming up with the brand new Play Library (a recycled toy and game loan library) in Over-The-Rhine (Cincinnati), right across from historic Findlay Market. We are going to create our own strange, Japanese kaiju-inspired creatures and monsters together! I'll be bringing a few of my own for display, and we will be getting our hands dirty with clay and plenty of drawing supplies to make our own (complete with displaying them on our own little foamboard Tokyo). Additionally, I will be taking your designs (sculpted or drawn) and making you your own fully inked 9x12 drawing, giving your doodle my own take. I will also have signed copies of "Tunnel-Ball" (plus pennants and mugs) for sale .
Here is the event link with the full agenda. It is from 10-1 (so you will still have time to do your important Saturday evening things) and perfect for all ages. The Play Library needs your support and I promise you'll fall in love it when you visit. I certainly did when I went to the grand opening last month. See you there!