Stop Motion Storytelling

We, at Ahimsa Media, have so much respect for the patience and attention to detail required of stop motion storytelling! I recently had the opportunity to view an educational display of props and characters used by Laika Studios in some of their very popular feature films including, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Coraline, and their most recent release, Kubo and the Two Strings. With it taking approximately 5 years to complete an animated feature of this genre, you can imagine the journey involved, and the effort to keep the story fresh and engaging for those working on it.

Coraline props

Coraline’s house from the movie Coraline. This is the actual model used during production, as are all the others shared here.

 

Laika Studios stop motion

A scene from ParaNorman. Look closely at the details of all the tiny props. Each one is made by Laika team specialists. We were shown a video of a tiny lamp being made using real glass blowing techniques and very steady hands!

 

Kubo and the Two Strings

This is a working set from Kubo and the Two Strings, notice the lights which add authenticity and shadows. A stop motion film has more depth to it, because there actually is depth with the characters being in real constructed rooms.

Laika has mastered the blend of technology with the age old technique of stop motion by utilizing 3D printing to create replaceable character heads with expressions more realistic than has ever been done before. A main character, such as Norman may have a face made up of over 78 individual pieces, with thousands of those needed to produce different looks. The protagonist from Kubo for example, has 66,000 face pieces for a total of 48 million different possible facial expressions. You may be starting to see why it takes so long to complete storytelling on a project like this. Just the 3D printing alone takes years to complete, with it taking so many hours for each piece.

stop motion character faces

A few of the removable character facial pieces from Kubo and the Two Strings depicting different expressions.

24 facial expressions are needed per second of filming, with an equal number of photos! No video is ever taken, an entire movie is made up of over 5 thousand images alone. Laika does also masterfully blend CGI elements to make wires disappear or add rooftops to buildings that had to be open, plus some necessary special effect needs that come up.

stop motion

This boat from Kubo and the Two Strings has over 200,000 hand glued paper leaves on it. Not sure why the security guard is so sheepishly hiding behind it!

Knowing how long it takes to complete one of these storytelling projects has us wondering how many stories are in the works right now that we can look forward to in the next 5 years! Can’t wait to enjoy them with our enlightened knowledge of the craft.

The Stories Our Superpowers Tell

We’ve all said it many times when trying to get through a difficult situation; “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” We have all been able to call on inner strength in different moments, but what if there was something challenging in your life bigger than just a moment?  What would your inner strength be capable of developing then, and where would it take you?  Most importantly, what great stories would you have to share as a result?

Photo Courtesy of BK

Photo Courtesy of BK

Realwheels Theatre is exploring this in a community storytelling project, #SuperVoices.  They are inviting storytellers who self-identify as having some form of disability to share with them in written, pictorial or video form, their superpower.  Everyone is invited to engage and benefit from the inspirations that are so often sparked by stories so bold and honest. Being that this is a digital project, they are hoping that even those with limited mobility will be able to participate.

In some cases a superpower is an exceptional talent that emerges, as in the case of Stephen Wiltshire, who is known as the human camera.  In the video below you can see Stephen fly over Rome and then draw everything he saw down to the exact number of windows on buildings.

In other cases, superpowers are a new sense of intuition or knowledge that becomes heightened as self awareness blossoms into new capabilities.  One of the #SuperVoices participants, @freeandclear1, is able to smell toxic chemicals and avoid them as a result of migraines.  One of the most powerful stories shared so far in this campaign is by Lynnthargic, who wrote a very poetic blog on all that she is now able to see. It is simply titled, Superpowers.

If you would like to share your superpower, please do so with the #SuperVoices hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or by posting your story on the WheelVoices Facebook page or G+ Community. You may also email it to Realwheels directly at: realwheelstheatre@gmail.com. Tell your story using your own preferred technique; photos, videos or written word.

Exploring Happiness ~ OneStory Together with Realwheels Bring You a #WheelVoices Campaign

This week marks the launch of a digital video campaign rooted in storytelling. We are thrilled to be participating alongside the innovative creative geniuses of OneStory, and the collectively inspirational group at Realwheels.

Realwheels is interested in your views on self-identification.  How do you define and articulate your identity? They are exploring the sources of identity that are universal among all people, regardless of physicality.  In order to gather and share as many different view points as possible, they have collaborated with OneStory, as it is a grand interview style sharing platform.  Anyone at all who is interested is encouraged to either be recorded or record themselves answering two simple questions:

  • What is your name and what makes you happy?
  • What is the obstacle to that happiness?

Everyone’s videos will be available for viewing on the OneStory App, but you can also join in the fun by sharing your own and other people’s videos across your social media feeds with the #WheelVoices and #DisabilityArts hashtags, and by following and engaging with the #WheelVoices and #DisabilityArts hashtags on your social media feeds.

As an example, here is Realwheels’ Lindsey Adams’ OneStory on What Makes Her Happy …

 

 

You can record your story directly on the OneStory App, which is a free download.  Simply:

  1. Download the free OneStory app to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch;
  2. Create an account and verify your email address;
  3. Click on the campaign or topic “What makes you happy?”;
  4. Click on the camera button in the top right corner;
  5. Enter the name of the storyteller and answer the questions in the interview;
  6. Change the title of your video; and
  7. Press ‘Post’. The link will be delivered within minutes of completing the interview.

Also, as of last night, you can now also create OneStories directly from your computer! Here are the instructions for recording yourself on your computer:

1.  Go to the Realwheels campaign page at: http://www.onestory.com/campaigns/what-makes-you-happy

2. Click on the ‘Share your story’ button

Step #2 Click on the 'Share your story' button

Step #2 Click on the ‘Share your story’ button

 

3.  This will launch a pop up window that offers two options for story capturing. One is to download the iPhone / iPad app from the App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/onestory/id605376655 or the other is just to click on ‘Start Recording.’

 

Step #3 Chose your option for capturing your story

Step #3 Chose your option for capturing your story

 

4. This allows the user to record directly from their computer, no app or interviewer required. After ‘Start Recording’ click on the ‘Continue’ button and then ‘Allow’ the program to have access to your camera and microphone.

 

Step #4 Recording directly from your computer, no app needed

Step #4 Recording directly from your computer, no app needed

 

5.  Then simply wave to camera and be cued with a countdown to start recording your first answer with the OneStory Recorder. After completing that you will be given the option to choose to watch, re-record or move onto the next question (which you may have to ‘allow’ permissions for once more).

6.  Once you are finished recording your answers, you will need to create an account or login to an existing one and then you can automatically upload your edited video to OneStory.com

7. Spread the word and share your OneStory videos, along with others you find inspiring, through social media using the #WheelStories and #DisabilityArts hashtags.

We are really looking forward to the stories that unfold!

In the Online Classroom this Autumn, Teaching Interactive Storytelling

BCIT StoryToGoWe are excited to be starting a whole new chapter of teaching and storytelling for us this Autumn, with our first post-secondary accredited online course in Interactive Storytelling available through BCIT StoryToGo’s Media Storytelling Department (formerly Part-Time Broadcast Studies). This means that anybody can register and take this course from anywhere in the world, on their time, and they don’t have to be a regular student of BCIT. Pretty cool!

It also means for us, that we, ourselves have been experimenting with both new methods of digital storytelling and teaching to better reach our students. So we have created course videos, webinars, step-by-step technology manuals, interactive quizzes, and discussion boards … and that is just been the beginning. We look forward to experimenting with new ways of connecting and engaging with our students as the Course gets underway.  As the Course content has already all been built, we also love that this now places the emphasis in teaching, on engaging with our students, and trouble-shooting with them, as they begin to build their own interactive storytelling projects. Here’s a little of what you can expect from the Course:

 

Our course is not the only new online storytelling course this term through BCIT StoryToGo‘s Media Storytelling Department. Thanks to Steve Dotto, Marty Strong and I discussed storytelling and the online courses available through BCIT StoryToGo last week on the Dotto Tech Radio Show on AM 650. You can listen to the broadcast here:

The three Courses available online through BCIT StoryToGo’s Media Storytelling Program this Autumn, include:

You can also catch an online course with Steve Dotto, as he launches his own series of online courses in Email Management and ProTECHtivity.

A New Classroom & Course for the New Year

Leerlingen van lagere scholen volgen op demonstratieve wijze een les op het Binnenhof / Primary school pupils stage a learn-in outside the Dutch Parliament

Photo from The Hague’s Nationaal Archief

I’m excited to be embarking on a new educational adventure this year! My new classroom will be in the Broadcast Communication Program at BCIT and the Continuing Studies Department at Capilano University.  At both schools I will be teaching Interactive Storytelling.  Not completely sure, but I do think these are two of the first Interactive Storytelling Courses at Post Secondary Institutions in Canada.

So what is Interactive Storytelling?

I define Interactive Storytelling, as storytelling across platforms of media, some of which are interactive, allowing the audience to interact with the story itself, if they so choose.

For the purposes of these classes, whilst we will be looking at examples of other forms of interactivity, such as ARGs and Gaming, the focus of the class will be on using different forms of social media (such as blogs, twitter, facebook, blip.fm, flickr, podcasting..etc) to make traditional stories (such as novels, films, tv, articles, radio, plays, brands …etc) more interactive. Through the course of the class, the participants will use these social media tools to build an interactive component to a project of their own.  This can be a project that they have developed in the past, are currently working on or are just using as a tool to experiment with telling stories interactively.

Who is this course for?

Anybody who has a story to tell, whether it is that of a place, a brand, a novel, a play or a film or TV series.

Here are the details on the two courses:

 

Capilano University

  • Course Code: CRN 10020 – Interactive Storytelling
  • 6 week course
  • Tuesday Nights from 18:30 – 21:30 (6:30 – 9:30 pm)
  • North Shore Campus
  • March 2, 2010 – April 6, 2010
  • This is a non-credited course through Continuing Studies.

 

BCIT

  • Course Code: BCST 1073 – Interactive Storytelling
  • 10 – 12 week course
  • 3 – 3 1/2 hours a week
  • Course Date Pending: Either April or September
  • This is a credited course through the Broadcast Communications Program, but don’t let that scare you off, as it is open to the public and you do not have to be a full time student to take it.

Also stay tuned for an Interactive Storytelling Course for Youth during the Spring Break with the Delta School District!

Brands Can Be Storytellers too!

A common misconception that we encounter with people when we tell them that we are interactive storytellers is that we create dynamic stories for children or that we strictly work with traditional stories in the form of books, movies, television series and films to make their stories more dynamic and interactive.  This is a myth (although we do  indeed work with traditional stories to make them more interactive, but our stories are not limited to traditional stories).

Storytelling is an age old art and tradition that allows us to pass on information in a manner that will be remembered.  The most powerful ad campaigns build a story around their product or company.  Similarly the most powerful political campaigns or actors have been adept at building stories around themselves.  This is what creates brands that people remember.  It doesn’t matter how old we get, everybody loves a good story and if you can create one around your brand, people will remember you.  Dove for example was brilliant in the building of ad campaigns that made them synonymous with embracing the real female body in all of it’s curves.

Photo by Selca Morales

Photo by Selca Morales

Now when we talk interactive storytelling, we are simply referring to making your story more dynamic and allowing your audience or customers to become a part of your story by interacting within it.  Storytellers have done this for ages with dance, sound effects, song and costumes, when they have their audience present.  The beauty of technology and the age of social media is we can now allow our audience to become a part of our story, even if they are not in the same room as us, the same city, the same country, or even the same hemisphere.

Photo by Rusty Stewart

Photo by Rusty Stewart

To explore interactive brand storytelling some more, join me (Erica Hargreave) for a Back to School with Kontent workshop tomorrow (Tuesday September 1st) evening on Creating Interactive Brand Stories.

Delta School District = a Social Media History Maker

Cross-post from DSD Youth Activities

Pretty impressed with the forward thinking of the Delta School District, as as far I am aware they will be one of the first school districts in Canada to fully embrace social media this summer, by actually offering students a course in it.

That’s right, the Delta School District is having me teach two mini-courses this summer on ‘Blogging and Storytelling’ and I’m pretty gosh, darn excited about it.  I love Interactive Storytelling (which is a part of what using social media tools to tell story is), I love to share knowledge (especially that which excites me) and I love working with young people and seeing them get excited about learning.

So details on the classes?  Here they are:

BLOGGING – STORYTELLING RESPONSIBLY & SAFELY (ages 10 – 15)

If our youth are going to blog, tweet or fire up flickr photos – on the new information highways – then might it be wise to teach them to do it in both a socially responsible and personally safe fashion?  Join media arts specialist and Delta teacher Erica Hargreave as she helps students create their stories and characters online in a safe and responsible manner.  This week of storytelling explores the use of social media tools which are becoming more and more a part of their lives.  And of course … don’t forget your digital camera!

Fee: $70

ID 8153     July 6 -10      9:00 – 11:00 am    Seaquam Secondary

ID 8154     July 13 – 17   1:00 – 3:00 pm      Delta Secondary

Nervous about your child learning how to use social media?  Well, I hate to say it, but it is just like sex.  You can hide it from them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to experiment on their own.  By showing young people the cool things they can do with social media and storytelling, we can encourage them to be safe, show them how to be safe and how to use the tools responsibly.  I also might add, that it is the knowledge of how to use these tools safely and responsibly that a lot of businesses are looking to young people for guidance, opening those that know how to do this to a lot of opportunity.

Hope to see you and your young storytellers this summer!

Launching Ahimsa Media 2.0

Welcome everyone to the new and improved Ahimsa Media!!

As many of you are aware, Ahimsa Media has been undergoing some changes over the past year and a half, shifting our focus from Traditional Broadcast and Video Production to New, Social and Emerging Media Storytelling and we are loving it!  In the busyness, it’s taken a while to update and rebuild the Ahimsa Media site to reflect our current focus and work, but here it is at long last!!!

So what are we up to these days?

Our main focus is on New, Emerging and Social Media Storytelling.

What does that mean?  Well, that we consult with Traditional Media (films, tv series, video, books, magazines, writers, directors, advertisers ..etc), Businesses and Corporations to help them tell their stories to the new and interactive Social Media space.  This involves building aspects of their stories online in an interactive manner or telling the behind the scenes story of the making of. An example of this would be Being Emme, one author’s adventures in the writing of her novels.  We also built the original Sexy In Van City (2008), helped with the online promotion of the Vancouver Theatrical Release of Mark Leiren-Young’s The Green Chain, and are currently consulting on menvent.

Being Emme

As an accompaniment to New, Emerging and Social Media Storytelling Consulting, we are also busy educating on New, Emerging and Social Media Storytelling.

Photo Taken by Invoke Media at WIFF New Media Day 2009

Educational Initiatives have included:

Upcoming educational initiatives include:

Aside from that, we are busy as always with a few Traditional Media Projects.  The current projects include:

  • writing the scripts and education packages for four BC Health related ESL Videos for ELSA Net
  • writing the educational package for the movie, The Green Chain
  • regularly contributing to Cloverleaf Country Magazine