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Illuminated text: a student exemplar

Watch it 'full screen'.  

It's a story.  It's a movie.  It's a revery.

Inspired by Jenny Lee's rendering of the Hemingway story Cat in the Rain, Nicole Scott, a participant in the Three Rivers Writing Project Writers Camp, created this wonderful animated text called Toothpick Ocean, based on a story she composed.  The approach of having type move and animate is sometimes called kinetic type and is often used in the advertising, film and video industries — think of the movement of type in opening and closing credits in films.  In this case, however, the animator both composed the story and animated the text. 

This student model could easily become a mentor text for other media makers. There are many effects to study here: color choices, movement choices, sound/visual combinations. But there is also the story itself and the question of how the design choices enhance (or don't) the mood and stance of the story.  

What do you think?  Please join the discussion.

Note: Original version also had soundtrack; soundtrack removed by YouTube.

Discussions About This Resource

Gina Doyle's picture

What a great example of student creativity.  This examplar gives me new insight into the possibilities for student publication.  I can see some of my students taking off with this idea.  I can also see this as a great opportunity at collaboration to publish a final product.  I'm wondering what program was used to create this or what programs could be used.

Elyse Eidman-Aadahl's picture

I think this particular example was created with flash.  But I'm seeing very nice examples using the animation tools in PPT and Keynote.  The Cat in the Rain example (which I think is linked) was created with PPT.

Dave Boardman's picture

You know, Gina, this reminds me of the idea that as writers, we often "stand on the shoulders of giants," trying to model what we see as good, more advanced, highly successful. These illuminated texts bring this idea to life in another way; students with programs as simple as PowerPoint or Apple's Keynote can work with such basic things as a shape or letter and through the creation of multiple slides with slight changes - the movement of a ball or the new placement of a letter, approach the animation techniques that require much more advanced programs than most schools have available. One boy in a class last year created some 300+ slides to create a smooth animated entry to a digital story. His idea came from a commercial movie trailer, and he found that he could export the PowerPoint as a video and tack it on the beginning of his project, creating a pseudo professional intro. Another type of, even another use for a mentor-text approach to writing.

kmeyer78's picture

Hi Dave!

I happened to come across your collection - and am intrigued by the kinetic texts. I really appreciate how it can cause the writer to think about the choices that might be able to be taken by an animator AS they write. I know it would effect my diction - as I searched for words that conveyed the tone/mood of the writing.

I did notice that in one of your responses you mentioned a student who created 300 slides in order to get the animation right. Which begs the question: When does it stop being about writing and start becoming about mastering the technology?

Elyse Eidman-Aadahl's picture

Nice discussion!

Kmeyer78, I think it's an interesting question you have at the end, but perhaps for a different reason. On the one hand, I love the notion of a student creating 300 slides and pushing him/herself to persist to a personal standard. Particularly young people, who as busy as they are may, perhaps, have more leisure time to work on technique and try to master it. I think that's a way that someone learns persistence in a task, for example, or really "geeks out" with an interest.  So I love the notion of a student creating 300 slides to get the animation right 

The part about the question, though, that I love is the way that any writer/creator/producer has to work through the question...do I keep going to polish and perfect? do I abandon it because I'm getting so obsessed that I'm out of whack in my process? This could be about mastering the technology or it could be about obsessive editing and polishing of a text or any point of technique and craft that a creator can go crazy with.

So for me it's less about writing vs. mastering the technology than it is about an issue in any creative process: when to push through and when to say "good enough."

Leah Siviski's picture

Elyse, thanks for your illuminating response to Kmeyer78.  I held her same sentiments when I read about the student's 300+ slides (and about kinetic type in general), but you make an excellent point about how we obsess about anything that we produce from our passions.  My writing has always been incredibly labored because I feel like each word holds weight.  Where my students may be moved to find the perfect image to insert into their digital stories, I try to spice a single sentence so that it melts on the tongue.  We cannot fault each other for what drives us.