I love flipbooks, and the flipbook workshops that I do with the Floating Shape Workshop are some of my absolute favorite activities. Aside from the accessibility and "fun for all ages" element to them, there is something magical about someone making their first flipbook, and seeing the animation happen right in their hands. Of course, this is typically most prevalent with young ones making their very first flipbook, but I have found that they can also be quite thrilling and fun with adults as well (who probably haven't bothered to make any animation since drawing on the corners of their school book several years ago). In a longer workshop format in which children will ultimately be making a full film, they are often eager to get to the point of using the camera. However, I find that the introductory camera-less projects like flipbooks and zoetropes can end up being just as rewarding. It is a piece of created animation that can fit in their pocket and be taken home to show to friends and family.
One of the other beauties of flipbooks is the way it is representative of animation in its rawest form. When most people think "animate", their idea, naturally, is tracing a full drawing over and over again while making intricate movements. This is, of course, a pretty accurate introduction and comparison to how traditional animation was/is made. Author Kit Laybourne summarized this analogy perfectly in the "Cameraless Animation" chapter of his classic book, comparing the binding of the flipbook to the actual pegbar/registration system, and so fourth. Of course, with today's common technological tools such as webcams and tablets, the process of actually filming a completed flipbook (shooting each page as a separate frame) and turning it into a short, digitized film is fairly simple. This can be a perfect way to stir up enthusiasm for bigger projects in the workshop setting.
When the FSW hosts flipbook workshops, we typically have a couple sizes to choose from (3x5" and 6x4"), and offer pads with both 50 and 100 pages, depending on how much drawing the participant wants to do. I will label the halfway point (page 25 or 50) which can work as a guide for the artist to plan out their beginning, middle, and end. Finally, I attach a cover made of watercolor paper, which makes the pad more durable to flip through, and just gives it a nice, quality look (and one that can be painted)!