Monday, February 28, 2011

How To Create A Pitch Bible With Heather Kenyon

I'm taking a great writing class from WIA (Women In Animation) president and animation script writer Lisa Goldman. She is schooling a small group of us in the art of creating character pitch bibles.

There are many similarities between pitching a picture book dummy to editors and pitching to animation  producers. The idea has to live on it's own. Someone has to be able to pick up the dummy or pitch bible and know what your book or show is about.

What I'm finding is developing a character pitch bible is helping me create and fine tune my StoryWorld.

Here is a great video of Heather Kenyon, VP of Project Development and Sales for Starz Animation talking about creating pitch bibles.

How to Create a Pitch Bible with Heather Kenyon from Creative Talent Network on Vimeo.

Great stuff!

You can join Women In Animation here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Creating StoryWorlds for Transmedia Kids

 "I want to create experiences that allow the audience to step into the shoes of the protagonist."-Lance Weiler

When I talk to most people in publishing and tell them I am creating character bibles & StoryWorlds for kids IP, they usually look at me kind of funny and ignore what I say or ask, "what?"

I tell them I'm an obsessed student of transmedia, and in order to create a compelling digital storytelling experience on the web (i.e. to get & retain eyeballs), you need to create an amazing place for your digital story to live and be shared.

You need to create context. That's what StoryWorld is. And it will become increasingly more important as more and more digital products come to market.

As Rick Richter, from RUCKUS MEDIA GROUP famously said, "There are 30,000 Kids APPS in the APP store and 27,000 are bad." How will you get noticed?

This is why context (StoryWorld) counts. But don't take my word for it, listen to what Brian O'Leary said in his TOCCON keynote entitled: CONTEXT FIRST: A UNIFIED FIELD THEORY OF PUBLISHING.

O'Leary asks, "how will what we publish be discovered?" Along with metadata and killer SEO, I believe an awesome StoryWorld is a key component to building & serving your community.
That's right, I said serve, that's what digital natives expect. If you don't give them what they need, they will MASH IT UP & MAKE it themselves.

They get it.

Transmedia and film has much to teach those of us coming from traditional publishing. At the SCBWI conference this year, John Carlin, president of the awesomely COOL FUNNY GARBAGE, told illustrators to look to other media to inform their decisions in creating digital stories & STORYBOOK APPS.

But where will these new digital STORYBOOK APPS live? Most get lost in the APP store. Where is the StoryWorld they belong to? If you don't have a killer IP like Dr. Seuss or Olivia, how will you ever get noticed?

Listen to what Lance Weiler, chief story architect of Seize The Media, has to say about creating a StoryWorld:

If you are interested in creating digital stories, APPS, games or any product for digital play, I encourage you to become a student of transmedia. And not just because it's the 2011 buzz word for trend watchers. Do it because this is where digital natives live ALREADY. Read "The Kids Get it, Even If You Don't": Transmedia Storytelling in The Classroom by Ian Harper. 

And here's a great article by Robert Pratten: Transmedia Storytelling: Getting Started, located on the WORKBOOK PROJECT website.

Transmedia is transforming publishing as we know it. And located at the center of the transmedia experience is the StoryWorld. What StoryWorlds have you found on the web?

The first StoryWorld Conference will take place in San Francisco, October 31 - November 2, 2011and bring together creators, writers, artists, producers, publishers, directors, and game designers to discuss and share transmedia strategies.

The chair of the conference is Alison Norrington, a transmedia producer, storyteller, novelist, playwright, and journalist. And might I add, an AWESOMELY GENEROUS person! The Digital Book World TRANSMEDIA WORKSHOP she ROCKED this year was AN INSPIRATION. I'm really looking forward to seeing what she creates for the conference in San Francisco.

If you are interested in Transmedia, I encourage you to follow her on twitter @storycentral and start reading her blog storycentral DIGITAL.

Watch her TEDxTransmedia talk DARE to LIVE.

Read more about the StoryWorld Conference here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


"The Children's Defense Fund's THE STATE OF AMERICA'S CHILDREN 2010, is a  compilation of the most recent and reliable national data on poverty, health, child welfare, youth at risk, early childhood development, education, and family income and gun violence." - CDF


One disturbing trend is the increase of childhood poverty since 2000. Will these children ever catch up? Will they remain trapped in the digital divide? Will they reach their creative potential?
Unicef believes we have an opportunity to harness the power of the 1.2 billion adolescent children in the world to become change agents for themselves and others.
They believe, "educating and empowering youth is our best hope of breaking the entrenched cycles of inequity and poverty." - UNICEF TELEVISION

Or watch this UNICEF video.

"YOUNG PEOPLE CERTAINLY NEED HOPE."- Richard Morgan, UNICEF, Director of Policy & Practice

How can we encourage and support the children of the world to take action as they face the unprecedented challenges of growing up in 2011?

Visit THE CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND or  UNICEF  to find out how you can support the youth of the world.

The State of Black Children and Families: Black Perspectives On What Black Children Face And What The Future Holds

The State of Black Children and Families: Black Perspectives On What Black Children Face And What The Future Holds

Big Thinkers: James Paul Gee on Grading with Games | Edutopia

Big Thinkers: James Paul Gee on Grading with Games | Edutopia

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fish Dancing in Fantasia, Walt Disney's 1940 Original Movie Classic

I'm working on a character bible for a children's IP and I came across this great animation of a dancing fish in FANTASIA, the 1940 Walt Disney classic.

I think it's just a beautiful example of how a character can lead you into a StoryWorld. The simplicity of the bubbles and the way the fish tail moves to the Nutcracker Suite is why I adore animation.
Very few things need to move to create emotional resonance.

It was interesting to read the comments on UTUBE as well:

"The main artist on this scene just turned 97 last week (9.24.2010ish) and is one of the last survivors to work on this film."

"Fantasia is the Mona Lisa or Sistine Chapel of Animated Feature Films."

"I was always scared by this part...and now that I look back on it, I'm kind of weireded out by the idea of fish as burlesque dancers. =/  "

What response do you have to watching this scene? Do you remember it? I find it more meditative than burlesque, but that's just me!  :  )


Thursday, February 24, 2011

TEDxPSU - Sam Richards - A Radical Experiment in Empathy

O'Reilly Webcast: Gamification Patterns & Pitfalls

This is a great overview of the hot topic of gamification. Gabe Zichermann, Gamification expert, featured speaker at the gamification summit 2011, and author of Game-Based Marketing discusses some of the ways gamification can and will change business practices.

You can follow him on twitter @gzicherm and read the gamification BLOG here.


So what do you think? How will gamification manifest in children's publishing? Will StoryBook APPS come with games? 


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

O'Reilly Tools Of Change Conference 2011

I've been listening to the videos of the O'Reilly Tools For Change Conference. I must say it's wonderful and democratic and ultimately creates more BUZZ for them by being OPEN. I dare say it might even speed up the evolution of Ebooks by making the knowledge available, just like open source did for browsers and lots of other things.

You can watch the Tool For Change Conference videos here.

While watching the #TOCCON twitter stream I noticed a few interesting posts that are relevant to lots of picture book author/illustrators, concerning digital books for kids. The most interesting being:
This is great news for many picture book creators with an extensive backlist.

Lyle Underkoffler, VP, Digital Media at Disney Publishing Worldwide spoke at TOCCON in a session called "Hard Lessons Learned from Selling Children's Ebooks Online."


*Disney believes there is a pent up demand for content you can't get anywhere else.

*Best selling Ebooks are titles that haven't been available for 15 years.

*Disney has seen physical sales grow with digital sales. No cannibalization.

*They have not only seen their pie grow but their share of the digital pie grow.

*Digital products seem to build awareness of and demand for physical products.

*Disney Digital is moving from a product based focus to a platform focus, to better leverage opportunities.

*You need different selling messages for the child and parent to drive purchase.

*Distributing content over multiple platforms increases the number of people that see it and therefore increases the number of people buying the content.

Are you leveraging your backlist? Have you started building your platform? I'd love to see what you're creating!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Part 2: BEYOND BOOKS: Picture Books & The New Media, SCBWI Winter

Here are my long overdue notes and related links from the SCBWI illustrator intensive I attended in NYC in January.

PANEL: Development of original APP  with John Carlin from Funny Garbage & Rubin Pfeffer, a partner at  East West Literary Agency.

Carlin gave the BEST piece of advice for illustrators to think about when creating APPS. He advised illustrators to think about your art for an APP as a puppet show. Where you deliver assets (backgrounds, characters, arms, heads, etc) as separate pieces of art, not as a page of illustration. Then the developer will take these assets and put on a puppet show with your work.

By the way, Funny Garbage has been making incredible things for 15 years. Check out their website and demo reel here.


STORYBOARDING is an important skill in building APPS. - JC
Find tons of images of storyboards here.

He showed a great animatic he is producing for an APP for RUCKUS. -JC
Read about animatics here.

APP COSTS vary:$12,000 - $14,000 to produce an APP depending on functionality. -RP

Think about what actions drive the story. Is the action gratuitous? Movement will drive up the cost. -RP

The underlying story must be great. -RP & JC

You are creating an EXPERIENCE. -RP & JC

Some illustrations are better suited to APPS. Soft pastels might not work on an APP. -RP

The language of APPS is being invented. Carlin talked about how film maker D.W. Griffith created the the language of film. Asked us to look at what besides the book will inform the new medium. -JC

Making APPS is a collaborative medium. Be IMAGINATIVE. The APP does not exist in isolation. -JC

Characters that started in A PRESENT FOR MILO (RUCKUS) will now be a Plush, board book & an APP. -RP

Here is the trailer RUCKUS produced for the APP.

More work went into A PRESENT FOR MILO (RUCKUS) than an illustrated 32 page picture book. Hasn't sold in huge numbers. But has sold direct to customer,"it is never coming back." There is no middle man (bookstore). It's a slow boil. -RP