“Art Before Technology or Technology Before Art? That is the Question” by Cohen

  • ©Clifford Cohen




    Art Before Technology or Technology Before Art? That is the Question

Program Title:

    Electronic Schoolhouse (Workshop)



    In 1989, AnimAction was formed with a single purpose in mind: to create a unique and innovative environment for young people, where they could experience the spirit of collaboration, develop new skills, and exercise freedom of expression, all with the ultimate goal of articulating a powerful message through the medium of animated film. AnimAction has trained thousands of students on development and production of classical and computer animation in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

    AnimAction has worked with children involved in programs at:The World Animation Celebration,The Los Angeles Unified School District, LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program, LA Children’s Hospital, Glendale Unified School District, The Office of Criminal Justice Planning, YWCA, YMCA,Torrance Unified School District, Long Beach Unified School District, Sweetwater Union High School District,The San Fernando Arts Council,The Light-Bringer Project,The Gene Autry Museum, The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Sioux Lookout Zone Hospital,The Solicitor General of Canada,The Teachers Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drug Education (TACADE), and The Mentor Foundation.


    The graphic arts and animation industries have grown in leaps and bounds since AnimAction was first started, particularly the animation industry. Today more than ever, the animation industry is crying out for artists to work in traditional style and computer-generated animation. Now that the Internet is available to the general population, our world’s communication system is becoming easier to traverse, and the need for technicians is becoming greater. Indeed, the whole media production world is opening up, and there are more employment opportunities for a variety of careers within the rapidly expanding fields of animation and digital production.

    However, there seems to be a great crevasse between the educational world and the industry. Should we teach our kids how to work, live, and breathe computers first, whilst not seriously taking into account a solid foundation in art and the use of the pencil and paper?

    Of course, the animation industry looks primarily for experienced artists who have acquired these artistic skills for a number of reasons. They are more interested in working with people who can draw and understand the flow of a line. Animation studios train these artists with the necessary digital technology, making them ready for successful employment.

    Goals of the Program

    • Introduce the classical animation process, stressing the importance of the basics and how a solid foundation in the art of animation will help in digital production.
    • Demonstrate and involve all participants in a hands-on experiential workshop and give them the opportunity to take home their own products on video.
    • Demystify classical animation production in the classroom (grades 5-12).

    The Program

    • Three hour workshop
    • Ages 8-80 (presentations can be designed for a wide age range under the same roof)
    • Participants are arranged in groups of up to four people, as small production teams. Each team works together throughout the workshop. From the very beginning, this introduces and builds the teamwork.
    • From this launching point, we work through every stage of animation production with the goal of producing up to 10 seconds of animation. Each team takes on the challenge of producing a short film based on the theme: a whimsical look at a digital animation artist compared to a classical animation artist.

    Each animation stage is covered:

    • Importance of the story concept
    • Character development
    • Timing
    • Storyboarding
    • Production
    • Color
    • Filming

    Methodology and Quotes

    AnimAction’s staff consists of artists and students of scriptwriting and animation. We’re a very young-minded company made up of extremely curious minds. In this workshop, we demonstrate the endless possibilities of peer education and how it inspires us all as we work together experiencing each other’s talent.

    AnimAction staff artist Esdras Varagnolo, independent 3D animation student, and SIGGRAPH member, says: “Working with kids has improved my improvisation ability and constantly makes me look back at the basics for inspiration. Digital production is a tool used as an enhancement.The real strength is in the art!”

    AnimAction staff artist Wade Bradford, English masters program, California State University, says: “I get to discover brand new styles and fresh story concepts working with kids.”

    AnimAction staff artist Brigitte DiSalvo, student at Santa Monica College says: “Working with kids has improved my timing and conceptual creative approach. It’s also great practice, and somehow I seem to work faster now. A solid foundation in art is essential as the computer is only a tool. Creativity comes from within.”

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