Sunday, March 21, 2004

Young animators get chance to see their own movies

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

InterMedia's brief Children's Animation program, which will unreel at 1 p.m. Saturday, began in January workshops with 27 youngsters wielding paper, pens, crayons and markers.

The kids, ages five to 12, created flipbooks, starting on the back page first and then carrying their stories forward, page by page.

"I try to stress dreams really can come alive in a way that they can't if you're just photographing the world with a camera," says Russ Johnson. The Wright State University professor of theater arts is in his second year with the joint project of the Weston Art Gallery, Taft Museum of Art's Families Create! and Project Connect at Hays Elementary School.

Johnson stresses that this is a short program, with all 30 student films adding up to about six or seven minutes, but there's plenty of action - a volcano erupting, a boat sailing away and sinking, even a little science fiction.

Johnson has been busy these last weeks transforming the drawings into digital video. "I try to remain faithful to what the little animators intended," he says, but he has been known to add color and even do some expanding.

All the kids will get their own video cassette of the film, thanks to Geoffrey Hamilton and Lintel International Video Services.

Johnson would like to see the project expand next year. It would be nice, he says, "if this were some future filmmaker's first experience."

Youngsters who are interested in the animation project can ask their parents to call the education department at the Taft Museum, and in the meantime experiment at home. "It's easy," Johnson promises.

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