I can’t stop singing the theme song from Gumby. Admittedly, it is a pretty catchy tune, punctuated as it is with periodic shouts of “Gum-by!” But still, I can’t get it out of my head, and it’s all because I just heard about a place in Saugerties where adults and kids alike can learn how to make stop-motion animation videos just like Art Clokey’s. Sign me up, I think: me and my pony pal Pokey, too.
The place is Flick Book Studio. It’s the brainchild of Keiko Sono, a Tokyo-born artist with an MFA from New York University, who relocated from the City to the Woodstock/Saugerties area by way of New Paltz. Her background is in painting, but in recent years she has shifted her artistic focus to the use of other visual media, including video. This Saturday, July 7, Sono’s work will open in a group show at the Kingston Museum of Contemporary Art (KMoCA) [see related piece by Paul Smart in this week’s Almanac]. In November, she’ll have a site-specific installation at the Unison Arts & Learning Center in New Paltz, and her current projects include 110 Days of Winter, a high-definition video installation that follows the evolution of an ice layer on a Catskill boulder in time-lapse photography, as water gradually freezes and thaws from winter to spring.
At Flick Book Studio, Sono offers stop-motion animation workshops that teach participants to make their own time-lapse videos. She opened the space up just last year, after becoming more interested in working collaboratively as an artist and wanting to be involved with the community. Sono encourages participants in the workshops to collaborate on projects, using art as a catalyst to connect, and livening up a meticulous process that can be painstakingly slow to carry out (over 15 frames are needed to create just one second on film).
Gumby-style Claymation is just one of the stop-motion animation techniques taught at Flick Book Studio. Another involves pouring sand onto Plexiglas over a light box and manipulating it with tools into basic monochromatic shapes. For simple additive and subtractive sequences, chalk marks on a blackboard can be added or erased in each frame to move the action forward. Additional techniques utilize paper cutouts, watercolor and the movement of simple objects, like rice or marbles.
The workshops are for all ages and levels of artistic ability. Participants in adult classes must be at least 16 years old. No previous background in art is required, but if the adult happens to be skilled in the use of traditional art media already, the techniques of stop-motion animation can be a fresh new way of using those abilities. For kids, learning the techniques and making videos is not only a great deal of fun, it can also open the door to a lifetime of creativity.
Flick Book Studio is offering three summer camp programs for kids in July. Session One is for kids ages 7 to 12, and will run from Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13. The goal is to introduce kids to the basics and cover the range of stop-motion animation techniques. Participants will work outdoors, too, using natural found objects and incorporating their own bodies. Rather than making complex, finished projects, the focus will be on making a large collection of fun, short clips.
Session Two runs from Monday, July 16 through Friday, July 20, and is for ages 9 to 14. This group will be all about Lego Star Wars figures, with campers bringing their own favorite Lego characters. Storyboards will be created, with Lego figures then starring in the scene sequences, as campers learn to shoot the sequences, edit, add sound and upload the finished clips.
Session Three will run from Monday, July 23 through Friday, July 27. The program during this week will depend on the experience level of the participants. Summer camp is from 9:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. each day, with a limit of six campers per session. Tuition is $350 for the week, and a $100 deposit is required to secure a spot.
Individual lessons and one-day workshops for kids and adults will be scheduled on days when summer camp isn’t in session. For adults, Sono recommends starting with the “One-Day Technical Intensive” workshop, which provides an introduction to everything technical about making stop-motion animation videos, including editing and sound. There is also a “One-Day Animation Intensive” for adults that covers the various animation techniques. After taking these workshops, participants can take sessions of project-based individual lessons, or sign up for monthly membership and gain access to the studio space 24/7 by appointment.
The One-Day Technical Intensive is held on the second Saturday of every month from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., or by appointment for a group of three or more. Registration is required. The cost is $85.
For kids, outside of the camp experience, there’s a required introductory session and then they move on to either an intermediate course or individually scheduled, project-based lessons. For the most part, during the school year, the sessions run once a week every month, from 4 to 6 p.m., with a tuition cost of $160 monthly. But there’s some fluidity in the scheduling, so the best thing to do is to check the website, www.flickbookstudio.com, for details, or call (845) 616-4635.
Flick Book Studio is located at 1536 Route 212 in Saugerties, and will be open during the summer until Saturday, August 11, reopening on Tuesday, September 4. To see samples of videos, check out the “Vimeo” video hosting website for the studio at http://vimeo.com/user6202522 or the studio’s site at www.flickbookstudio.com. To see a sample of Sono’s 110 Days of Winter video, visit http://110daysofwinter.com. For more information, call (845) 616-4635.