Thursday, October 22, 2015

• Lights On Afterschool/THINK Together 2015

Lights on After School is the name of the assembly that highlighted THINK Together's activities. THINK Together is the name of the after school program at Wildomar Elementary. 

The theme was Superheroes.
April Watkins speaks to the crowd as the assembly begins.
There was a jump rope demonstration, a basket ball demonstration —to the familiar tune of the Harlem Globetrotters theme, along with a some cheer leading.

There were some awards for various "Superheroes." 

The principal, Mr. Hoffman, one of the dads (Mr. Alvarez) that helps out nearly every day, and the staff that makes the program work.
April Watkins, Kenneth, Dana DeJong.
5th grader Kenneth awarded Dana DeJong, of the Rotary Club, for their helping the kids in the EarlyAct Club. Which included buying clean drinking water for Haiti, a polio walk, clean ups at the school, an owl box and other community service. 

The real unsung superhero is April Watkins. As the zeal she puts into her role is evident by how much the kids respect her. What a lucky group of kids to have such a dedicated person leading Wildomar Elementary's THINK Together program.
Mayor Ben Benoit, Akiam, and Mayor Pro-Tem Bridgette Moore.

THINK Together animation project/Super Thinker

There were a few technical difficulties at first, where the projector didn't want to cooperate... but without such things, how would a person ever get gray hair? However, after a few moments they got the video up and running, and it was so fun to watch the kids as they viewed their handiwork for the first time. 

How this project came about.

Back at one of the events at Marna O'Brien park, towards the end of Summer, I overheard April Watkins discussing that her after school group was going to start drawing superheroes for a comic strip.

Being an animator, and always one to get in over my head, I messaged her a couple of days later asking if she thought her students would like to turn their drawings into an animation.

She didn't hesitate and said YES! ☺

I was thinking it might be a new take on a classic story, like Little Red Riding Hood for example. Or, maybe a series of jokes. Instead they came up with a story about THINK Together, the name of the after school program at Wildomar Elementary.

The catch was they'd like to get this done in time for an assembly that was just a little over a month away. A tall order when there isn't even a story written out, or characters drawn. But, I was confident that if they did their job on time, I could do my job on time.

I made two trips to the class.

First, to give them a brief overview of animation and what I wanted from them. They were going to do most of the work. Come up with the story, write the dialog, rehearse their lines, draw the characters and the backgrounds and even do a rudimentary storyboard (which would tell the animator, how the visuals are controlled).

The second visit to the group was two weeks later to record the voices.
A look at the recording session. I brought my digital recorder and mic stand and we were ready for action.

That was fun. You could see how much they enjoyed the process as they were saying their lines into the microphone I brought. Some were a little timid at first, because it was a new thing for them. Standing with their peers watching them, as they repeated their lines into a strange device.

What made it even more alien to them was that they had to say their lines out of order.

They had practiced them as a group, like it was a play, but I can't use that in animation. I had to do the old multi-track trick and record them all separately, and later assemble them on a timeline. Some characters had several lines and they had to record them all at once, while trying to maintain the proper inflection they had during the group recital.

They did a great job with the audio.

When it came to the artwork, they drew several characters and backgrounds, but they really didn't translate into things that would make a proper animated cartoon. I did use many of the drawings in other places. A tiger on a character's shirt, and the others on the wall in the principal's office.

So I took their ideas and reworked them into something more suitable for a cartoon. To save a bit of time I recycled some of my existing characters, and borrowed a background or two from the net. 

The final project took awhile to produce. I'll let you do the math. It's a three minute cartoon, and generally it takes more than 10 hours to produce a minute of animated video. 

It was a great experience working with the Wildomar Elementary 5th graders of THINK Together. I hope they had as much fun as I did. ☺
Joseph Morabito being honored with a certificate of appreciation and a superhero mask.
What a pleasant surprise to be awarded a superhero mask and certificate for helping the 5th graders bring a story of theirs to cartoon life. 

 •      •       
"People who get into animation tend to be kids. We don't have to grow up. But also, animators are great observers, and there's this childlike wonder and interest in the world, the observation of little things that happen in life." ― John Lasseter


  1. So nice of you to cover these events as well as help make them happen. Cool you!

    1. Thanks John,
      What an experience it's been since I decided to get active in the community. More people should try it. :)

  2. What a blessing you are to Wildomar! WELL DONE! As always :)
    Love you xoxo, Mom


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