Pupils start …shooting!

After months of preparations and a lot of theory and history, pupils are ready to start shooting! After all, this has already happened to one of the schools. And we are already coming to some conclusions!

Obviously there will be a lot of mistakes – and indeed there are. That it inevitable but also integrates to the educational procedure! The knowledge the kids got will apply little by little in action and though the “testing-mistaking-correction” scheme will really understand everything they’ve learned.

It is also the best way to learn the terminology. I.e. they have learned or at least heard the terms “establishing shot” zoom in/out” or “track in/out”.

Collaboration

The really important is that through this procedure pupils will learn to collaborate. Even they will learn to bypass personal oppositions – let’s not that kids have a great ego – in order to complete a common cause. They will get “taught” persistence and patience, since they will have to start over a scene, if they make mistakes!

They will also learn discipline. Not under compulsion or enforcement but under persuasion to a value and the cause of completing the short. Let us give you a characteristic example: kids are really excited and during the shooting they want to be in front of the computers, near the cameras and the lights. In brief, they want to be in front of the scenery and thus to affect unintentionally . So, the teacher will be the first to leave the field where those who must work are working and he/she should urge the rest of the kids to walk away. They do so. not with joy, but they seem to understand the need.

Lighting

In the same way, during the shooting they discovered of lighting. We do not refer tot he light the teacher brought to the studio but to those who were responsible for the lighting of the scene and contributed to create the effect of moisture needed for a shot. When they saw the “before” and “after” difference within the software (AnimaShooter) they stood and stared in awe! So, they learn that things we don not pay attention to or we think they are of no big importance turn out to play a significant part in animation, even if we may not understand it some times!

Admitting the mistake

Last but first in reality is admitting the mistake. Kids – because of the ego we’ve mentioned – would not accept the (moderate) suggestions and questions of the teacher while they were shooting. He understood that they were making mistakes but the teacher “wanted” them to make those mistakes. So when the meeting was off, he presented them a preview of what they’ve created and instantly kids saw they did several mistakes. And that is a basic step to move forward! 

We keep on moving then!

 

Crowdfunding campaign for the creation of vktoons’ studio

The time for vktoons to make its next step via a crowdfunding campaign has come. The truth is that this time came a long time ago. Yet, for economic reasons it was impossible until now to establish a 2D animation studio. Taxing in Greece made every thought of such a thing impossible.

But there was the “weapon” of crowdfunding.  It proved to be very powerful up to now, since it helped vktoons to go outside the Greek borders. We talked in Annecy with possible collaborators who found the projects we proposed them very interesting. So, they were waiting the first step for the production to be made from within Greece. Afterwards, they would contribute too.

Some of vktoons projects
Some of vktoons projects

That meant that we should find an initial financing from within Greece. But even that was impossible. And it is not only vktoons that faces this problem, but almost every Greek creator. Unfortunately in Greece animation is an almost unknown word to those who could finance it. That goes for the Greek state too.

The solution was again outside Greek borders.

There was the solution we tried to avoid all these years: of immigration and of the establishment of a studio abroad or to work abroad. In the end we chose the middle path: that of the creation of a studio abroad, but keeping the production in Greece. In deed, taking in mind the answers we received to our questionnaire we recently distributed , many Greeks approved that solution.

Even for that solution, vktoons has not yet the money to make it happen. But we already told you that crowdfunding campaign proved to be a powerful “weapon”. Enough people responded to the questionnaire that they would accept such a solution.

Preparing the campaign.

It is important to prepare this campaign as best as possible. First, the matter is not the campaign itself but the immediate ignition of the studio – which will start as a virtual studio – right after the completion of the campaign. That is why we already work on the subject of financing and supporting our first webseries (Stray Stories) and we are looking for clients who would like to be projects via the work of vktoons. We believe that the perspective of the official running of a 2D animation studio would make it easier to approach possible clients. Also, there are projects we already run with our collaborators.

We plan to start the campaign either on March or April. This means that the virtual studio should start working within May! Next thing to do will be to get enough money to open a branch in Greece and create a physical studio.

Stray Stories: A few things about the series (in development)

Stray Stories Logo

Those subscribe to our newsletter had been informed some time past about an in development animated series for our YouTube channel. We recently announced it to the wider audience. The title of the series is Stray Stories.

The characters.

The series is about the funny adventures of four stray animals: Tomboy’s, a male cat, Molly’s who is his girlfriend,  Butch’s, a strong bulldog (but not a bully) and Grass’, a rat. The stories take place in the scenery of a neighborhood of a random modern city.

Tomboy, Molly, Butch, Grass

Format of the series

There will be seven episodes (unless we face such a success and we “must” continue producing it). Adults are the target group of it.  Duration will be one and a half minute maximum. It will be 2D limited and tradigitally or paperless animated using Toon Boom Harmony, as he hope. There will be no dialogues, giving the series the opportunity to address an international audience.

Of course, in this case too the productions will take long, since we are talking about frame by frame animation, though it will be limited. But we think that this series is easier to produce at this point, compared with other of our proposals (which we continue working though). Its’ production is related to the developments on the issue of an official  opening of vktoons’ studio. That matter will soon take its way.

Of course, Stray Stories faces the same obstacles any Greek animated production faces: difficulties in financing. But now it addresses a more or less niche audience which is into stray animals (and it does well do do so). We believe it can get targeted funding but also support! Beyond humor and gags, the series will try to feature issues concerning stray animals. So, the format “foresees” extra time in each episode to show relevant issues, with the help of services, entities etc.

In the next period of time there will be work in the creative part as well as in the one concerning the funding of the series. Concept art and backgrounds will be in the agenda, while we already write the scripts.

New year’s resolutions!

In a few days 2020 will arrive! Here, in vktoons we make our new year’s resolutions!

  1. To officially establish vktoons as a 2D animation studio.
  2. To produce two online series: one for kids and one for adults.The Treasure at the roots of the Tree of Earth
  3. To develop our channels on YouTube with a stable, enriched schedule and with more viewers and subscribers.
  4. To multiply our presence in more schools and more children to learn about us!
  5. To educate Greeks on animation production and to help make Greek animation better known outside Greek borders.
  6. To establish a solid basis for productions with an international target. Chrononaut
  7. To create bonds with Greek companies via advertising.
  8. To install the basis for the creation of a workshop for 2D and stop motion animation.
  9. To establish new and to strengthen existing collaborations in Greece and abroad on the basis of 2D animation production.
  10. To install the basis for events promoting 2D animation and animation in general.
  11. To feature new talents on 2D animation and to help them evolve.
  12. To show our animated shorts in festival and meet success.Primrose
  13. To install the basis for the evolution of gaming – following the merchandise logic – but not targeting only on profit.
  14. To promote the merchandise of our projects.
  15. By the end of 2020, to see vktoons becoming a acknowledged brand.

What are your new year’s resolutions? Happy, healthy, joyful and peaceful new year to everyone!

vktoons for kids: our Greek YouTube channel for children

vktoons for kids

The kids’ channel of vktoons, vktoons for kids is reactivated and has a new schedule!

The program addresses exclusively to kids and parents living in Greece or learning Greek. So, it is exclusively in Greek. The need for this emerged from the ascertainment that pupils and students in elementary and junior high schools are “thirsty” to learn animation. Not just how to create a short “on the fly”, but also to learn what is the procedure behind the creation of an animated short!

So, the channel will focus on education at a first phase. It will teach the kids the science behind animation taking advantage the historic optical toys, as is thaumatrope which is presented in the first video.  It will also teach them to use animation software such as AnimaShooter with the company behind it vktoons is in collaboration. There is also a thought about sketching lessons.

At some point we also aim to move on to  the production of an animated series . of course, that is something that needs a good programming.

We must stress that the decision for the reactivation of vktoons for kids Πρέπει να σημειώσουμε πως η σκέψη για την εκ νέου ενεργοποίηση του vktoons for kids had been taken before the blast of the COPPA issue (about the protection of kids on the YouTube platform), since we had already discovered the need for its existence.  So, the fact that economically is not worthy to have a kids channel (in Greece – by the way – YouTube for kids hasn’t arrived yet) does not affect our decision.

Furthermore, we aim to make the channel interactive, with the participation of the kids through their constructions and animated creations.  We will call them to send their creations to their creations  at kids@vktoons.com . We will make sure to import them to some of our next videos, hoping to motivate them! By the way,  we are in discussions for collaboration on the subject  of education of children on animation!

We aim to upload one video each week or – at least – one every two weeks.

If you are a Greek learner, you are welcomed to subscribe to the channel (otherwise, it will look… Greek to you…)!

“Primrose”, our next animated short film

Nyhtolouloudo, Primrosevktoons’ short film titled “Primrose” (“Nyhtolouloudo” in Greek) is already in production (as you might also notice in our project’s page). It is a black and white animation. It is about the love between a rain drop hanging from a branch of a big tree and of a seed laying near the root of that tree.

The technique we use is tradigital or paperless animation or – if you wish – the traditional animation in it’s modern form. That way we contribute to the increase of trees being cut. We also save money, space and time as a studio since several procedures are simplifying (flip/pencil/line tests e.a.).

Work is done in the environment of Harmony (Premium edition) software of ToonBoomThe software offers all the tools a studio needs. Until now, such valuable tools are nodes but also the bitmap brushes! Of course the software fully supports traditional animation as well as digital puppetry. vktoons plans to take advantage of those characteristics too in the near future.

“Primrose” has no dialogues spoken, so it becomes “global”. That way it has more chances to be presented and/or compete in international festivals.

We estimate the short will be complete in May.

 

Teaching animation to pupils in Athens!

vktoons has started a collaboration with PTA’s in a district of Athens. We have already started teaching children animation in two schools.
The first lessons are challenging: kids are coming to find out if they are really interested. We also allow parents to be present in these first session.
The truth is that there are representatives of PTA’s in different parts of Athens who have asked us to teach in their areas. Right now that is impossible, but we have already some options in mind for the next educational year.
These first lessons showed us that kids are interested in animation! Taking in mind that this is the first time we take such an action, it gives us confidence about what we should expect for the years to come!

With this action we aim at two things: 1) to help create more educated animation viewers in Greece and 2) hopefully to help children to consider a career in animation when the time for decisions for their lives will come. Such a thing could have a massive impact in Greek animation production in many aspect (economic, organizing, producing etc).

vktoons in Annecy (mifa). Results and conclusions

asifa hellas members with Bill Plympton, mifa 2019

vktoons participated in 2019 mifa in Annecy via Vangelis Karadimas, member of the asifa hellas delegation.

The experience gained was precious, since we noticed the practical mistakes to be solved in the future. Strategically though, vktoons made the right moves, taking advantage of the info and the experience other members of asifa hellas transmitted. It is notable that it was the only “asifa” booth from around the globe.

So, vktoons’ projects that attracted most interest were those of Chrononaut basically, followed by Stories of Planet Sentia. The interested audience was mainly the anglophone one and then the Hispanic speaking. 

vktoons’ projects.

Chrononaut

Chrononaut left Greece as the concept with the more chances to gain interest. That is logical since it already has a letter of interest from a big tv station in Greece. It has secured that, in case of production will have the support of Toon Boom and there are also companies that would like to watch the pilot episode when it will be produced.

Stories of Planet Sentia drew the eye of a Latin American award-winning director. and we wait for a possible collaboration.

The Treasure at the roots of the Tree of Earththough it is a “burned” project for the non-Greek audience (due to concept issues – devils and angels and a drunk goblin – format not easily applying to the needs of tv stations and also economic issues caused by ERT stance), yet it is a project the Greek young audience asks for to be produced. We found a “channel” to distribute it (as long as we make the right preparations).  Also, in the video library of Annecy, despite the problems we already mention, it has gained international interest. So, perhaps some spin-offs or something?…

Other projects and conclusions.

Apart from these, vktoons already prepare projects facing towards the future. That is done with the perspective of international collaboration, entering the field of anidoc.

As a conclusion, vktoons’ presence at mifa in Annecy was better than expected and what now it must be done is to take quick advantage of the “momentum”, to find financing for the creation of a creative studio and to produce pilot episodes – at a first phase – for Chrononaut (and perhaps of Stories of Plane Sentia, depending on the news), to make use of the Greek cash rebate by EKOME – though without a drastic decrease of the local taxes this measure will only have some results in the short term – and also to prepare the next projects, in order to have a continuity in production. The main desiderata to definitely initiate these is the financing (yet, we already move things).

A few days before Annecy animation festival.

official logo of MIFA Annecy 2019

vktoons will be present in Annecy festival, since Vangelis Karadimas will be a member or the Greek delegation to be send by asifa hellas. He will have with him six projects, two of which will be officially promoted by asifa hellas. These are (you can also take a look here):

  • Stories of Planet Sentia
  • The Treasure at the roots of the Tree of Earth
  • Chrononaut
  • In the dungeons
  • Primrose (short)
  • Ernesto and Taroon (short)

Vangelis Karadimas preparing an animation lesson

Until now and facing the event, vktoons has approached enough people – creators and scientists – to strengthen its proposals. This procedure is ongoing!

In particular, there is already an aired interest from a well known TV station about Chrononaut.

Empowering Greek creators.

There is a very good connection with the Greek Blender communitySoon there will be a contact with graphic design department of the University of West Attica.

So, we try to contribute to the opening of new animation jobs for Greek creators.We hope we will get support and be able to create Greek projects addressing an international audience!

The creative teams of the projects are almost fulfilled. Soon, we will complete the scientific teams for the Chrononaut. All these will help us to claim financing and co-producing with better conditions, both from Greece and – mainly – abroad. Unfortunately it is proven that support to Greek animation from Greeks is a quite difficult thing to become a reality.

Additionally, we try to book some meetings before the “kickoff” of the festival, to make better use of our time there. For sure, there will be a meeting with Toon Boom and perhaps some more yet.

The certain is that in Annecy, vktoons wail gain great experience and – cross fingers! – will put the basis for international collaborations and co-productions!  We will take care that this  experience will be transmitted in Greece, after returning from Annecy!

 

A discussion on children’s emotional world, prompted by “Stories of Planet Sentia”

vktoons, apart from The Treasure at the roots of the Tree of Earth is also preparing already its’ continuous presence and there someone would find high ranked the pre-school animated series titled Stories of Planet Sentia. It is a series about children’s emotions, of accepting them and cope with them.

vktoons will collaborate with scientists – pedagogues with experience and knowledge on the subject. So, we asked from our collaborators, Aleka Koumeli and  Victoria Tsoukala to answer some questions regarding the scientific and educational part of the series.

QUESTION; Taking in mind your educational experience, what are your conclusions about the emotional world of the children and if they express it?

Aleka Koumeli; Pre-school kids feel, experience all of the emotions., probably more intense than we adults do. Some times they find it difficult to understand what they feel, the cause of the feeling and even more – of course – to handle these feelings, especially those who have a negative sign.

In that age, the way they express themselves is more related to the environment they come from – the family – since parents are the first emotional models (emotional patterns) and mainly via imitation kids reproduce behaviors which they “learn” within the family.

Victoria Tsoukala; Children, as any person, have a rich emotional world. Usually, they don’t express their feelings verbally, but through behavior and action.

I.e., when they feel happy, they laugh loudly, they clap their hands. When they feel gratitude, they give tender hugs or a little hand-made present. When they feel disappointment, they are gloomy or they are turning upon their selves.

QUESTION; Which paragons do you think/realize that prevent a kid to accept and express feelings?

Aleka Koumeli; As I’ve already mentioned, the difficulty of the situation is related to the young age of the kids, which as toddlers try to self-determine, to feel as individual members of a smaller or greater community, to become independent from the family environment, to find similarities and differences to their classmates and to chose a company as well as behaviors that fit them. Of course, the most important part is the culture we have as a society towards the emotional “education” of the children. There is a kind of compulsion in Greek family, a “decorum” that provides good and bad behavior, that values i.e. anger as a negative emotion that the kid should not feel. That occurs even when we try to protect children from unpleasant feelings in order to protect it from feeling sad. Automatically we eventually make an evaluative distinction of emotions and we teach children that they should not feel some of them. In pre-school education since a few years via the curricula there is a try to solve this and emotional education runs through all the sectors of the curricula, something I value as something positive. Of course, considering beyond the curricula, probably it is difficult for us, the teachers to work on that, since we also must educate ourselves in accepting and operate our emotions, in order to secure the pedagogic environment in the classroom for the appliance of the emotional education. Of course, this becomes difficult also because of insufficient training and because of the crowded school classes in which you cannot achieve a quality relation with each student individually.

Victoria Tsoukala; Family is the first emotional school. If within a family occur tensions and conflicts, these effect negatively the emotional balance and, therefor, the expression of emotions. It is not unusual that parents but also teachers don’t express their emotions. I.e. we ask a kid to stop doing something that annoys us without looking in his/her eyes or we say “I love you” without hugging the kid.

QUESTION; What are the dangers children face if they “learn” to suppress their emotions?

Aleka Koumeli; According to W.H.O., the main causes of death but also of morbidity around  the globe are not contagious diseases but diseases related to the modern way of life. Since for most of them there is no cure, the only way is prevention through the change of behavior and way of living. In Greece these last years there is a tremendous increase of consumption of sedatives and antidepressants. Depression appears in smaller ages now. According to a research on 713 teens age 15-18, 26,2% of them shows signs of depression. Bullying in schools has also become a major issue. Of course, all the above are also social phenomena. It is proven that with a proper early intervention and “teaching” the children to appreciate their feelings, to differentiate them, to understand them, to express them in a productive way, we could avoid future negative behaviors like addiction to substances, school failure, depression, difficulties at having healthy relations as an adult.

Victoria Tsoukala; If a kid “learns” to suppress his/her feelings, he/she will find difficulties in having healthy relations with kids of the same age, his/her family or even as an adult. Moreover, suppressing emotions could lead to psychological problems or to depression.

QUESTION; Do you think animation can help children – and perhaps their parents? – to view their emotional world more freely? And if so, why?

Aleka Koumeli; I believe animation can become a tool in the hands of the teachers for the hard work of emotional education. Besides, it is something extremely familiar to the kids, they love it and can through it can be taught behaviors and stances. It could become an opportunity for questioning, for discussion in the classroom as well as within families on the way we should face ourselves and the others, on the way we can solve conflicts and finally to have a harmonic relation with us and the others.

Victoria Tsoukala; Animation is something children love.  Surely children can identify themselves with a hero of an animated movie that promotes the expression of emotions, to see through a funny way how heroes express feelings, how they respond to “spurs” and imitate them. On the other hand, parents can understand concrete examples on how kids express themselves and then urge them and guide them to express their emotions.