Get Creative: Animation & Comics

Categories: Comics, Creative Methods, Focus Series, MethodSpace Live!, Multimodal, Qualitative, Research, Uncategorised, Visuals, Webinar

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Dr. Helen Kara is a panelist for the upcoming Get Creative! Research with Pictures & Stories MethodSpace Live webinar.

Helen Kara wrote a book about creative methods, and continues to explore new approaches. I asked her to share some examples from her blog with MethodSpace readers. Of course you’ll get to hear her talk about her efforts to understand and use comics and animation if you attend the Get Creative! Research with Pictures & Stories. Register now and join us for a webinar panel on July 18, 2019. Find the time in your zone

Helen Kara
Dr. Helen Kara

I would like to present an animation I wrote, which has been animated by clever and diligent students at Staffordshire University. The idea for this came from Dr. Alke Gröppel-Wegener who is a programme leader and assistant professor at Staffordshire University. She and I were chatting over lunch late in 2017 and I told her about the comic I was writing. “Why don’t you write an animation, too?” she asked. “Because I don’t know how to write an animation and I don’t know any animators,” I said, thinking that was a fairly conclusive argument. But Alke brushed away my objections with a flick of her hand, explained there were student animators at the University, and proclaimed her conviction that of course I could write an animation if I tried.

I went home and asked the internet how to write an animation and whaddaya know, it knew. I was also very lucky to work with Laura Weston, also at Staffordshire University. She is a knowledgeable and gifted tutor who downloaded segments of her brain into mine on demand. And as for the animators – well!

Laura helped me to put together a brief, and then she publicised it to her students. To begin with, we asked for character sketches and received several submissions. It was so hard to choose between them that I ended up asking two people to work together. Kalina Kolchevska and Kiefer Bray were already good friends and happy to collaborate. They did a great job creating our hero Rowan and his evil nemesis Cavil the Carrot Fly.

I went to meet with a group of Laura’s students and explained that I wanted to put a team together to create the animation. I am so pleased that Carolann Dalziel, aka Caz, volunteered to be the producer, because she did an amazing job. I am also very pleased that Aimee Carter volunteered to direct. I would have been happy with whoever wanted to work on the project, but I am honestly delighted to have had two women working with me as the animation industry is so male-dominated. (I’m also delighted that my comic was illustrated by a woman because that industry is too.)

The rest of the team included artistic director and lead animator Janine Perkins, sound technician and background artist Cameron Jones, Aneesa Malik and David Trotter who drew the storyboards, and Kiefer Bray and Ash Michaelson who worked as junior animators. They have all done such a terrific job that the animation looks very professional. I went to the end-of-year degree show at Staffordshire University earlier this month, where the animation was first shown to the public, and it got excellent feedback.

It is of course about research methods: in particular, how to choose a research question. This is something that troubles students year after year, all around the world. Caz and Aimee, Kalina and Kiefer, Aneesa and David, Janice and Cameron and Ash and I all hope that the animation we have made will help students through this knotty problem. Check it out and see what you think.

You can also download the comic I developed, Conversation With A Purpose. Find  instructions for printing it here. The comic includes discussion questions for use in the classroom.

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