Demystifying The Digital Storytelling Process Using Cartoons

Watch the cartoon video below.

What did you make of it?

What if I told you 75% of the cartoon story was done by a 6 and 4 year old in about 8 hours, would that change your perception?

What if I added that prior to that day, David (6) and Daniel (4) only consumed cartoon stories and never believed they could produce theirs?

What if I told you I didn’t make anything close to a cartoon story video until I was in my mid 20s?

What if I added that the environment in which both kids live has a natural affinity for consuming rather than creating content?

Wouldn’t they stand out as doers among their peers?

20 years from now, think of the impact this would have had on them going forward. This is how it starts! Now, you can understand the pride and joy both kids felt displaying their works and watching their own creation.

In case you didn’t know, the feeling of creating something. whether it’s a car or a video, resonates with amateur and professional creators alike. With the foregoing, you probably felt a deeper appreciation of the video. That simple exercise is the context for the essence and objective of the Digital Storytelling workshop.

The Journey

Saturday, 02 April 2016 brought a wrap to the Digital Storytelling workshop with David and Daniel Olonihura.

It had been a long 6 weeks since January 30th with our Saturday classes where we’d gone from nothing to making a story from their favourite cartoon — Nickelodeon’s Blaze and the Monster Machine. You can track the process via these posts: Unlearning to Learn, Storyboarding, Drawing.

Personally, it was a way for me to unwind, take a step back from making stuffs with my professional team to working with a younger audience. It was also a good learning process for me.

The Final Lap

First, David came up with a simple script from which he and Daniel recorded using my handy mic. I showed David how to edit the sounds using Adobe Audition. We needed to cut out some parts so I highlighted the sections while David deleted them. Next, I showed him how to save the files and it was a straightforward process from there with David handling the saving of all 6 files. He’d become a sound engineer :-)

Take-Aways

The workshop was a good learning experience for me. Here are a few points from the process

When kids ask questions, have practical responses: One of the beauties of the workshop was the inquisitiveness of the kids.

After the voice-over session, we colored yet another version of Blaze, the central character. The question from David was, “how are you going to get the picture into the PC?” I took a picture with my phone and sent it via Bluetooth to the PC. Bingo! Mystery 1 demystified! Next question was, “how are you going to make him talk?” I opened up Adobe Photoshop, took out the background and exported to Adobe Illustrator. There, I traced out the mouth shapes. Mystery 2 demystified!

David script

David's written script.

Before working with my team to flesh out the final video above, I needed the children to see as much of the process as possible. Hence, we worked together in assembling the assets to make the initial version of the video. Everything was deliberately done before their eyes in just 2 hours.

David script

Colored photo of Blaze by David.

Focus on the goal: The goal of the Digital Storytelling Workshop is to inspire kids and to demystify the process of making a cartoon video by combining different individual elements such as the idea, script, drawing, coloring, voiceover into a final video. That’s what kept us going even while the kids wondered how everything would eventually add up.

Context is everything: While the work is not a full fledged story like this one from Genii Games — it took a diverse team and man hours to churn this out — it was about taking the kids through the value chain of making a cartoon story without bells and whistles. The point was even the best of cartoons we watch on TV when stripped to the bare involve this process. Tomorrow, David and Daniel can proudly say they made their first cartoon at ages 6 and 4.

There’s a process to everything: Yes, it took a bit of time convincing the kids to stick to the process which my team had carefully and strategically divided across the weeks. A kid who is yearning to draw doesn’t care about developing a storyboard. A kid who wants to use a mic doesn’t care about a script but I needed to take them through carefully. Thankfully, in the end, they saw the connection.

Conclusion

I’ve sent a copy of the video to their parents. To find parents who invest in workshops like this inspires me. For their aunt, it was a worthy investment of 6 hours and a little more over the course of 12 weeks (breaks in between) transporting the kids to and from our studio.

Personally, it was fun taking time off the production and daily grind of running Genii Games to do this. Until the next one, kudos to the team!

Cover Image, David (6) and Daniel (4) beaming with pride at their works.

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