John Akre is an award-winning animator and documentary video maker with over twenty years experience teaching his craft and creating community through media. He has been awarded grants from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board, and his films have won awards at film festivals around the world. He organizes the annual "MinnAnimate" animation festival in the Twin Cities.
He and his partner Beth Peloff make videos and animated graphics for non-profit organizations and small businesses through their company, Green Jeans Media.
Explore history or an idea, interpret a poem, tell a story, and then turn it into a life-size animated film. Students will work with the artist to develop a script, create props and then animate a story—with a life-size stop motion animation stage on the floor of the classroom—through a camera mounted on a ceiling, and professional animation software.
Documentary Video Production
Documentary filmmaking focuses on real life: capturing footage of real events and/or people and their stories. Students will work with the artist to make documentary films about their world around them using available cameras, phones and free editing software.
The video production workshops that I carry out with youth are all about hands-on use of equipment and learning video by making videos. Learning the process of how to turn pictures and sounds into stories helps young people be more active viewers of the media all around them. I emphasize the story or the idea that the youth want to express, and how to turn that idea or story into a unique and effective message.
I usually start with the camera, what buttons to press, how to aim it, how to decide what to put inside the frame. If the goal is to create a short video, we brainstorm themes and vote on one. We decide what it is about this theme that we want to say something about and what we want to say. We cast our actors and figure out our sets and usually rotate the jobs of camera-operator and director. We generally shoot the piece from first scene to last and thus edit in the camera. The residency ends by screening the video and talking about the process with them.
Animation Basics: Flipbooks & Cycles
Students will learn the basics of animation through the creation of Flipbooks and cycles on paper and then animate them for the screen.