2016 DIY Animation Festival
for Kids & Grownups

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
Niles (Fremont), CA
July 10, 2016

1:00 pm
$5 per seat (babes in arms free)


We've been watching a lot of "old-school" Sesame Street videos with our toddler.

I'm captivated by the animations on those old shows. Many of them simply count from 1 to 10 (or 12, or 20) - or they explore a single letter of the alphabet, or a simple concept like cooperation or the changing of seasons.

Toddlers, it turns out, find this kind of simple repetition very useful. Grownups (i.e. me) find them not simply nostalgic, but sublime, elegant, and supremely creative.

So what do we do?
We make our own simple animations for kids, and present them at a festival!

1) Festival Details

Please submit your videos by July 1st. We'll need that time to prepare the presentation, confirm the credits, troubleshoot, etc. (See below for submission details.)

Q: Who can participate / attend?
A: The fun part is: the festival will be a public event! The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum will put us on the schedule (between other shows!) and charge people $5 to get in.

That way a historic theater / museum / worthy cause gets some money, and we get to use the theater for the price of a cheap ticket!

Q: What kind of work will fit into the festival, and what kind won't?
All videos must be appropriate for children of all ages. Very early education (letters, numbers, language, social skills) is encouraged - but any brief, entertaining video could work.

The focus is on animation, but many types of simple video could also work - see below.

Q: Will animators be paid for their movies?
The festival will essentially be an unpaid volunteer gig, and a fundraiser for the theater. Much of the ticket money will simply cover the cost of using the theater.
I'd love to make the videos available online, but no work will be posted without filmmakers' approval.
If the project is a success, we may repeat or expand the festival, but animators & filmmakers maintain all rights to and control over their work.

Q: Are song parodies & 'borrowed' material appropriate?
Original music and visuals are encouraged. Song parodies or copyrighted music may or may not be acceptable for the festival - let's discuss if you're interested.
Note: the program will include several classic Sesame Street animations, which we're licensed to show.

Q: How should videos be submitted?
Files can be sent via dropbox, FTP, or posted for download. Files can also be mailed or delivered on USB sticks, data CDs or DVDs, etc.Emailing files larger than 10mb can cause problems, so please contact Martin to discuss options if email is your most practical method.

Q: What technical specs should the videos have?
As follows:

Length - Very short is great: one minute or less. (10-15 seconds might be perfect!)If your idea stretches beyond 60 seconds, consider breaking it into several shorter videos which can be distributed throughout the program. Every return to your world would bring a sense of familiarity! If you'd prefer a single longer time slot, let's discuss.

Aspect Ratio - Most of the new work will be in 16:9, but the "classics" will be in 4:3. Either is welcome. We'll probably run videos with the same aspect ratios together.

Video Format - Video for Windows (AVI or WMV) formats are preferred.If you can submit a few weeks early, any format could work - but as July draws near, time to negotiate different formats may be limited.

2) Suggestions for Making Animations or Short Videos

This helpful link offers several free animation programs - or just google "free animation software".

Additional suggestions from DVB, Gretchen A., Jonathan C., Michael Z, Jay K:

Adobe After Effects (Free trial; $20/month subscription)

"Professional animators use Maya. There's a free version and a nice tutorial."

"Proce55ing is totally awesome, if you're willing to program." Processing.org

Apple Motion

Dragonframe can use a high-quality still camera to produce animated image sequences. The full version costs $300, but a limited trial version is available.

Any video editing program (iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, etc.) can be used to create a video using still images from a camera, scanner or painting program. Full animation would take a LONG time using this method, but a series of separate images can be assembled very quickly.

Film cameras are no longer the easiest way to animate, but they still work!

Short, simple live-action videos can also be exciting, informative and fun to watch. Editing tricks (backwards & forwards motion, jump-cuts, etc.), close-up and far-away shots, etc. can make the images more dynamic.
Or combine live-action with animation!

What's more fun than one sixty-second animation?
Four fifteen-second animations!
Our program will be a mix of styles, subjects and images. Every time an image or style returns, it will be more welcome and familiar!
And of course, Shakespeare gave his animation advice very clearly: "Brevity is the soul of wit."

3) Suggested Ideas

Here's a brainstormed (and un-researched) list of suggested topics, but you're welcome to do something else:


Count 1-10

Count 1-12

Count 1-20

Explore specific numbers

Base 10 counting (9+1=1 in tens place and 0 in ones place)

The alphabet

Explore specific letters and how they're used: fun silly narratives using letter

Irregular letter combinations (sh, th, ch, ou, oy, etc.)

Explore specific useful words

Explore prepositions



Capital vs. lower case

Apostrophe: possessives, contractions

Plurals: use S but not apostrophe




Sharing leadership (sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow)

Please / Thank You

Empathy / Considerate behavior

Practice to get better

Okay to make mistakes / learn by making mistakes

Read every day


Musical scales



Basic safety (household, outdoors, traffic)

Very advanced academic or technical concepts - if the animation is kid-friendly and not off-putting, it could be fun to playfully explore and explain concepts that even adults find challenging.

4) Examples & Info

Your submissions don't have to look like these - but these classic short films may provide a great place to start brainstorming!

QUESTIONS? Email Martin for more info. Thanks!

All participant submissions for this show will be copyright 2016 by their respective creators.
All rights are reserved.