A Flash Animation Composition for Comic Books and Animated Flipbooks

We had a fantastic opportunity for students and guests to experiment with short animation stories and world building to create a sense of place and perspective for creative exploration. Students created short animations using FlicFlix, A Flash animation applet which integrates live video and real time green screen chromakey technology to fully immerse students, characters and props into the animation world.

ChromakeyUsing a mash-up approach that utilizes different software applications, we were able to allow students to drag and drop creature/character objects into background scenes, paint/draw and utilize Flash media rich features. By integrating open source and creative commons information, from Flash developer, Mario Klingemann (Quasimondo.com), we took advantage of the web camera and chromakey applications for the green screen feature. We integrated this feature into the FlicFlix applet to quickly allow students to immerse themselves into their own story and animation.Other off-the-shelf software titles such as iSight Photo Booth, Snap-Z Pro, Business Card Composer and Plasq’s Comic Life allowed us to quickly create animated flipbooks and comic books to showcase their stories. As expected, the chromakey activity was a big success and a fantastic introduction for students into digital design and animation.

FlicFlix Flash Applet

Building comics and storyboards, visual literacy tied to narrative, combined with traditional and digital media offers a tremendous potential for allowing students to actively explore narratives as well as media rich, digital design — all essential parts of constructing knowledge. The introduction to digital media where the technology is secondary to the application of technology towards well-defined learning outcomes allowed the students to put aside the technology and concentrate more on exploration and the creative process. The immediacy of recognition was accessible; it leveraged some things that students were familiar with while demonstrating concepts and technology that they were not accustomed to… The experience created just enough “Wow Factor” to be immediately engaging, but with an opportunity to dig as deep as the students wanted to go and allowed them to try other software to quickly integrate new imagery into the mix of what they were creating.

We had several parents with great enthusiasm participating with their children to create some funny and offbeat projects. They helped hold the greenscreen material, assisted in story ideas and character selection as well as acting as translators – if students decided to practice creating an English version of their comic book. A few parents actually became part of their children’s storyline as characters and stand-ins.

FlicFlix Animation Applet

Students that participated in the workshop exercise traveled from Texas, Louisiana and Georgia as well as represented such diverse countries as Poland, Israel, Japan, Mexico and Argentina. Students, ranging from 7 to 14, were able to quickly make connections in the storyboard process and were able to participate in the digital world, dragging and dropping digital characters and artifacts onto the stage and develop their own short story.FlicFlix Animation Applet

At the end of the workshop exercise students were able to walk away with a physical object, a 1-2 page comic book and flipbook (prior article),which recognized their creative work and achievement. Hopefully, the flipbooks and comic book pages will be a topic conversation point for friends and family well past the final days of the festival.

I would like to thank Ashfaq Ishaq from International Child Art Foundation and the organizers of the World Children’s Festival for allowing us the opportunity to present this workshop. Much appreciation goes to the fantastic effort that was put forth by the participants in our group Hal Meeks – NCSU Information Technology Division, Sharon Marcussen a Graduate of Art+Design at NC State University College of Design and her sister Rachel Marcussen, Liberty University. Finally, we greatly appreciate our administration’s support and encouragement from Marva Motley – Assistant Dean, Student Affairs, NCSU College of Design to develop this workshop series in such a short amount of time with limited resources.

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