Animated films by area children get international attention

Grand Valley group teaches animation workshop
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Grand Valley group teaches animation workshop
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A group of Grand Valley State University educators are working with area youth to explore animation, visual literacy and collaborative filmmaking during the international Animation Workshop Group program currently underway.

The workshops, for 12 elementary-age students last week and 20 middle and high school students this week, July 26-30, are conducted at the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Arts and Worship, at Grand Rapids Christian High School. The films will be presented during a public premiere at the center on Monday, August 16, at 7 p.m.

The sessions are led by Deanna Morse, film and video professor in the School of Communications at Grand Valley, and Gretchen Vinnedge, a Grand Valley alumna and education coordinator at Community Media Center, with assistance from students and other faculty from Grand Valley and Kendall College of Art and Design.

This is the fifth year Morse has conducted youth animation workshops, and the third year of collaboration with Community Media Center. Previous student films created with AWG by Morse and Vinnedge have received awards at international film festivals and been screened in such diverse countries as Japan, Croatia, Canada, Greece, China, Portugal and the U.S.

"You don't hear much about kids' films in America, but it is a big deal internationally," said Morse. "A piece we did two years ago, about the Olympics, was shown in China during the Olympics. A piece from last year, 'Animation Magician,' premiered in France in June and will play in Hiroshima, Japan in August."

Working in teams, students have one week to learn basic storytelling, animation and filming techniques and create an animated film based on a theme, which this year is "Get Up and Move." AWG is a project of Association International du Film d' Animation, the oldest international organization of animators.

Photo left to right: Gretchen Vinnedge, GVSU alumna and Community Media Center education director; Ryan Smith, GVSU student and film editor; Deanna Morse, film and video professor in the GVSU School of Communications; Nicole Bradley, GVSU alumna and sound designer; Lauren Vince, GVSU student and animation leader; and Jennifer Peterson, GVSU alumna and adjunct instructor.