Project Lead: John Summerson

Number of participants:  20

Duration: 5 days

Project Outline:

Animating Nonfiction is a 5-day ACROSS RCA project focused on the poetics of nonfiction storytelling in 2D hand-drawn animation. Taking inspiration from Jeff Chiba Stearn’s Post-it Note films, participants are prompted to tell a short, autobiographical story by animating on sticky notes. These will be combined into a single short compilation film screened alongside the frames from the work in a group installation.

In this project we will explore the notes with which we surround ourselves. We will develop the connections between our external practices and internal self-talk. Our notes are mirrors for casual introspection, written mini-monologues encouraging our best intentions, great ideas, terrible ideas, dates, times, measurements, doodles, desires, secrets, and grocery lists. When was the last time you read through your notes very carefully? What have we been trying to tell ourselves this whole time?

As a transformative, time-based media, animation is an ideal way to experiment with capturing the complexities and minutiae of a practice. Animation is slippery — it can shift, metamorphose, remix. In this way, it parallels the iterative, transliminal nature of the creative process.

The goal for this project is for participants to learn how to use animation as a device for self-reflection. It is structured around daily screenings of nonfiction animated films, discussions, readings, and projects on the principles of motion/production in hand-drawn 2D animation. We will write and produce animation, capture it, and turn it in to a short film and installation.

This is an interdisciplinary project designed for creative professionals with little to no practical animation experience or knowledge.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own notes. We will spend some time talking about them and generating some new ones. If we’re lucky, we might get them to finally talk back to us.

Suggested reading:

  • Fellner, Steve. “On Fragmentation,” in Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction, edited by Margot Singer and Nicole Walker (New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), 175-179.
  • Nelson, Maggie. Bluets. Seattle and New York: Wave Books, 2009.
  • Didion, Joan. South and West: From a Notebook. New York: Penguin Random House USA, 2017.


Day 1 (Monday 4th November): Introduction
10am – 1pm
Meet & Greet
Project Outline
Screening + Discussion: How can animation tell true stories?
2pm – 4pm
Project: Principles of motion in animation, planning + drawing, experimenting under the camera

Day 2 (Tuesday 5th November): Preproduction/Writing
10am – 1pm
Screening + Discussion: Telling very short stories
2pm – 4pm
Project: Writing treatments for very short stories (so short they can fit on a few sticky notes), planning animated movements, experimenting under the camera

Day 3 (Wednesday 6th November): Production
10am – 1pm
Screening + Discussion: Experimental storytelling in animation / sound + image
View and discuss previous day’s work
2pm – 4pm
Project: Integrating story, motion, and sound design concepts. Creating animated loops and sequences

Day 4 (Thursday 7th November): Production II
10am – 1pm
Screening + Discussion: Dailies Review
View and discuss the previous day’s work
Continue animating, capturing the sequences under the camera
2pm – 4pm
Continue animating, capturing the sequences under the camera

Day 5 (Friday 8th November): Post-Production
10am – 1pm
Finish capturing any animated sequences. Practical demonstration of post-production animation techniques.
2pm – 4pm
Screening and installing the final work! Snacks and frivolity abound!