2017 was the first full year for Floating Shape Workshop, the mobile children's animation workshop that I launched back in the summer.
In total, FSW hosted eight workshops this year, at creative venue spaces ranging from art galleries to libraries to festivals. Keeping the community-oriented spirit in mind, children of all ages & backgrounds got to experiment with different animation methods and many got to make their own films (collaboratively & independently).
I am very excited to soon announce some of the workshops that are already scheduled for 2018. I am also very appreciative to all of the individuals and local organizations who helped us along the way in 2017, In addition to the workshops themselves, some truly spectacular surprises and opportunities along sprung up along the way, such as getting to spread FSW across the airwaves on WVXU (Cinci's NPR affiliate-station). Some workshop films also made their film festival debut all the way over in California (more on that below).
I want to again thank the following local organizations and creative venues who either helped us or opened their doors to host a workshop: the aforementioned WVXU, the Public Library of Cincinnati, Robot Inside, Kid Vid Fest, Thunder-Sky, The Good People Festival.
Below is "Kindness Is ...", a special collaborative film made by eight young animators at a FSW workshop. This film was screened at the California youth animation film festival "Kid Vid Fest". Using the festival's theme of "kindness", each animator (using a medium of their choosing ... drawn, cutout, clay, or sand) animated a scene of their idea of an act of kindness. If you haven't already, please check out FSW's YouTube channel, where I do my best to archive all of the ongoing films and projects being made at the workshops. Also be sure to check out the full gallery by clicking on the Floating Shape Workshop tab at the top of the site.
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!
Tomorrow on October 28th (International Animation Day!), some animated films made by children at Floating Shape Workshop events will debut at Kid Vid Fest, an inaugural youth animation festival in the Los Angeles area. This is really exciting for everyone involved, and I wish I could be there to see it! There are several other great children's animation workshops and programs taking part, such as Inner City Arts, Spotlight On Hope Film Camp, and multiple ASIFA branches. See all of the event details including the venue and time at the KVF site linked above.
One of the films to be screened is called "Kindness Is ...", which was collaboratively made by eight children using a variety of animation techniques (claymation, cutouts, and hand-drawn). Using the festival's overriding theme of "kindness", each participant animated a short sequence of their vision of an act of kindness (caring for a pet, holding the door for strangers, sharing food, and many more). I loved the end result. The title frame and other production shots are pictured below, and I plan on uploading the full film to the FSW YouTube page shortly.
Here is a little thing I animated in honor of ASIFA's annual International Animation Day celebration coming up next weekend. Every year, children at FSW workshops have a blast taking part in this worldwide celebration by creating their own posters (sidenote: this year's official IAD poster by Noureddin & Negar Zarrinkelk is quite beautiful) and working on various projects. In fact, I have a very exciting announcement regarding Floating Shape and IAD coming up very shortly. Alas, this was really fun to make.
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 ...
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!
My extremely hardworking, creative puppeteer pal Terrence and his Wump Mucket Puppet troupe make their PBS television debut this weekend on the season premier of Cincinnati affiliate CET's "The Art Show". I was at the filming at the Taft Museum back in August and the show and turnout was fantastic, I can't wait to see it translated on the screen. It will air on Saturday, January 7th (6PM) and Sunday the 8th (8PM). Check your local listings and try to catch it!
Oh no! Only ten days to go and about $40,000 needed.
Wish I could have sprung for the animation cel if $550 was a little more expendable. The original green Grover toy is a pretty cool perk, too.
If you haven't read the original book by Michael Davis, it is quite good.
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 ...