A Visit to the Lynx Centre

This week the focus was on lip syncing and sound breakdown. Members of the group were encouraged to think about the different movements made by the mouth when speaking and then to make these shapes out of Plasticine. These models were then accompanied with sound through the use of an app. Examples of some works are pictured below.

Some members of the group continued work from the previous sessions. So again, the chance to make motion pictures with mirrors was given with the bringing in of the praxinoscope and zoetrope – some great designs were created!

Other members were innovative enough to combine the skills they had learnt with the lip syncing and apply
them to making a flip book.

Stop motion animation was also continued with various clay models being made and manipulated. One example below being the squashing of a penguin!

As always, everyone involved had an interesting session where they were able to think about lots of different aspects of animation and try them out for themselves.


Week 3 – Can’t knock the classics!

This week I brought some reference cards and foldover clips along and flipbooks were made. I had several examples which were eagerly thumbed through. Only a couple of people really got into flipbook making but I’ll bring more supplies next week and I think other people will come around to it. I think it might seem a bit of a daunting task as there is a fair amount of drawing involved. Really you need at least 20 pages to get a good flip on the go and you have to draw every page from scratch so it isn’t like stop motion where you can just move a thing and take a picture.
Some people are quite self conscious about their drawing abilities and so an iPad came out again to play along with a bit of Lego. Again; some excellent minifigure walking was produced. I don’t know if some people are less keen to leave their comfort zones than others or if the people who will try a wider range of things have a larger comfort zone to begin with. I’d like to to be able to instill the message that it is fine if something isn’t quite right or even looks bad because you can learn from it and move forward.

A roaring success of this week’s session was the praxinoscope. A Victorian persistence of vision toy where drawings on a disc are reflected in a cone of mirrors  and when you spin it the drawings come alive. Some wonderful things were made with this from bouncing balls through to some pretty nifty abstract shapes. I think it’s popularity comes down to the immediacy of the device. you do some drawings on a bit of paper, put it on the praxinoscope and give it a spin. Then you see moving pictures right away.   Next week I hope to bring a bigger one which is a bit more like a zoetrope in that you work on a long strip of paper rather than a flat disc.

Week 2 – Pixillation

I tried to get people a bit excited about pixillation – using people and objects as the things to be animated – and I busted out the laptop to show some good examples. Shiny, a film made with clothes and Fresh Guacamole by animation legend PES among others.
While examples elicited a good response it didn’t really fly. It could be partially because the space is rather limited in the room but there is always a bit of a barrier when trying to get people up and moving around, especially if at least one of those people is to be on camera!
Again Jess did some fantastically paced plasticine stop motion and really took on board any advice she was given.

I did break out the lego for this session in conjunction with Michel Gondry’s video for the White Stripes’ Fell In Love With A Girl as an example of a way it can be used. It didn’t get used that way. Tom did some really excellent walks with a minifigre though. Several in fact. Each time improving on the last. I think he could do some really exciting stuff if he’d step outside his comfort zone. Though given the time animation takes it’d need to be more of a stroll than a step… The rest of the lego was used to great effect by other people in conjunction with plasticine.

Week 1 – Back in the NAS Lynx!

This was the first workshop of six that we are running at the NAS Lynx Centre in Weston Super Mare as part of the Exploring Diagnosis project.

Last time we were here we had workshops for larger groups of people, perhaps 20  at once, and we set up simultaneous activities like a green screen, iPads and modelling clay for animation.

This time, Dom (workshop leader) and Lena (the centre manager) discussed smaller groups for people who expressed an interest in animation.

Dom writes

“As in previous workshops we had a box of plasticine (modelling clay) and a pair of iPads with an animation app installed. Everyone enjoys making things with plasticine and a couple of people really took well to animating.
Often I find with people new to animating that there aren’t enough frames in the animation. It all goes by too quickly. The animators don’t usually mind this as they can see the elements they expected on screen but for anyone else it is difficult to see what is meant. This is one of the reasons I was particularly impressed with the Pokemon animation which rolls on to the screen, gets poked and then fills the screen with a cloud of black ink. The pacing is very good. Jess asked for advice and then used it.

People are often reluctant to re-do a thing that isn’t right the first time because “it took ages”, though the “ages” in question are usually between 5 and 10 minutes. I’m hoping to get to the point where the animators are happy to look at what they’ve done and if it isn’t quite how they hoped perhaps make it again, taking into account what they’ve learnt.

Workshops at the NAS Lynx Centre in Weston Super Mare

Yesterday we started our series of six new film/animation workshops at the NAS Lynx Centre in Weston Super Mare.  These will run until 28th February with a break on the
14th February.  Our lead animator Dom from ‘Calling the Shots’ is working with a fantastic young animator called Lila and 6-8 interested centre users, ranging in ages from mid 20s to 40s.  It’s a drop in structure with a different focus each week and Dom/Lila will collate pictures, short animations and blog reports for the project website from next week.
Yesterday we also started conversations with artists who will be contributing to the visual tracks of the three films we have planned to make about our research themes: ‘diagnosis’, ‘neurodiversity’, and ‘treatment’.  Our rough interview plan is:
1.To describe the project
2. How do you like to work?
  • where do you work?
  • what’s your working pattern like?
3. What are you hoping to learn from the project?
  • skills?
  • techniques?
  • what support do you think you might need?
By the end of the week we will have talked to
Angela Tweddle
JA Tan
James Frye
Mahlia Amatina
The next steps are for us to develop a work package for each of these artists, software, hardware etc as well as techniques they’d like to learn.  We will then begin to schedule a visit to each during April.  Dom will travel first to Texas and then to Washington and finally Vancouver to spend time with each artist.  He will separately plan visits to Mahlia, who is UK based. Dom will teach them and set them up with a production base.  He will fit round their working patterns and spend a minimum of 2-3 sessions with them.  He will then provide support via email and Skype and we will set up a Dropbox folder for their work in progress.
Our plan is for Dom to re-visit in September/October, to provide one-to-one support and training for each artist as their film work develops.

EU-AIMS scientists answer questions from the autism community about EU-AIMS research

Ginny Russell recently led on a film about the autism community’s questions for a biomedical consortium that is developing drugs to treat autism called EU-AIMS.
Two public events organised by members of the EU-AIMS Ethics advisory board (led by Ilina Singh, University of Oxford) one in the UK and one in Denmark were conducted as part of the consortium’s on-going PPI activities in 2014 and 2015.

Sixty-six individuals submitted written comments on the consortium’s research after these events, most were questions that autistic adults or parents of individuals with autism had raised. We summarised their questions in this video and put them to the scientists at the EU-AIMS 6th annual Meeting in 2017.

An associated paper is available here http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/exploringdiagnosis/files/2017/11/hex.pdf




Film Workshops Review

Last year we ran a series of workshops for autistic adults at venues across the South West and South Wales.  The idea was to experiment with different visual techniques like stop motion and cut-out animation, green-screen technology and motion sensor software to allow the participants to come up with their own creative work.  Here’s a short selection of clips:

Participants loved it – animation opened up new ways of expression and staff were amazed to see certain individuals engaging with such enthusiasm. We left animation kit at each venue and this is in high demand everywhere!

ReacTickles Web Apps

Following the excitement about ReacTickles at the St. Mark’s House workshop, [http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/exploringdiagnosis/st-marks-house-workshop/] Exploring Diagnosis have been working with the Cariad Interactive design team, Wendy Keay-Bright and Joel Gethin Lewis, [http://cariadinteractive.com/about/] to re-create some of the most popular ReacTickles for the web. This means that there is no need to purchase or download any software, you can just click on the images and start playing, using your mouse, keyboard, iPhone or iPad.

Based on the feedback from St Marks’ and some of the demos we posted earlier [http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/exploringdiagnosis/reacticklesdemo/] Joel has been busy programming many new ReacTickles, and we have chosen three examples for Exploring Diagnosis. These are,


Bouncing Circles – use your keyboard to explore speed, position and pressure


Keyboard Worm – use your keyboard to explore velocity


Springy Circles – use your mouse to explore elasticity

Each of the ReacTickles, will trace your interaction, creating real-time animations while you explore. Using the Quicktime > New Screen Recording Option, [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84nuErTMv2w] you can easily record and save your animation.

Wendy and Joel are working on more ReacTickles for web. We will be posting more about these in the future, and you can follow their progress on the Cariad Interactive website [http://cariadinteractive.com/2017/01/17/original-reactickles-revisited/].

iPad gift to Stallcombe House

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This picture was taken on a recent visit to Stallcombe House, where EXDX team member Dr. Chris Elphick gave the residents their very own iPad to use. He is pictured shaking hands with Chris Thistle, the general manager of Stallcombe. Having this iPad will enable the residents to continue to make the stop-motion videos, as seen on the ‘Film Workshops’ section of this website. In addition to this, residents will be able to explore the use of the Somantics and ReacTickles apps we have also started to use in our more recent workshops. Dr. Elphick is looking forward to attending the Stallcombe Christmas party on Sunday the 11th of December.