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  • June 2018
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Celebrating Black History Month: African Americans and Film


February is Black History Month!  To mark the occasion, every Tuesday in February CLP Carrick’s Teen Thing (our weekly teen activity/chill out time) is going to focus on some remarkable contributions made in the areas of film and technology by African Americans.   Each week we’re going to explore a new pioneer, talk about why they’re important, and create with an art project related to that person!

February 5th @ 4:30 PM


Duane Jones as Ben in ‘Night of the Living Dead’

On the first Tuesday of the month we’re going to spotlight Duane Jones.  If you’ve ever seen the 1968 local horror classic Night of the Living Dead, then you probably recognize Mr. Jones as Ben – the film’s hero.  What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that his portrayal of Ben was an important milestone in film history, as it marked the first time that an African-American was cast as the lead star in a horror movie.

In homage to Mr. Jones and his classic role, we’re going to be making mini stop-motion zombie movies on our iPads!  Once again, Ben will try and save the day from hordes of undead flesh eaters!  Will he live to tell the tale this time???


February 12th @ 4:30 PM


Frank Braxton is our subject in the second week of February!  Mr. Braxton is largely regarded as the first African-American animator to be offered a position with a major Hollywood studio, Warner Bros. Cartoons.  He drew for a number of classic animated movies and TV shows.  Some of his most enduring works include:  You’re in Love, Charlie Brown; A Boy Named Charlie Brown; and the Mister Magoo, Bullwinkle, and George of the Jungle TV shows of the 1960s.

Since love will be in the air this week, we’re going to watch some of Mr. Braxton’s work and flex our imaginations with some basic animation/flip book techniques!


February 19th @ 4:30 PM

Valerie Thomas' Illusion Transmitter

Valerie Thomas’ Illusion Transmitter

On February 19th, we’re going to focus on Valerie Thomas and 3D technology.  Ms. Thomas, a scientist and inventor who worked for NASA, is widely known for her Illusion Transmitter, a device she developed and patented in 1980.  The basic idea behind the Illusion Transmitter was to take the flat image from, say, a TV screen and have it projected into your room in 3D – almost like a hologram in a Sci-Fi movie!  Needless to say, the invention provided some serious upgrades for the existing 3D technology of the day, and is still currently used by NASA.

Look for some red and cyan action going down this week!


February  26th @ 4:30 PM


To close out our month-long celebration, we’re going to have a special screening of an awesome documentary focusing on the vibrant cultural scene of Brooklyn in the 1980s and early 1990s, which launched a number of notable directors, musicians, artists, poets, and comedians.  Popcorn, anyone?


All of these events are free and open to anyone in grades 6-12.  Teen Thing is held every Tuesday from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM at CLP Carrick (1811 Brownsville Road, Pittsburgh PA 15210).  Hope to see you there!

stuffs and stuffs:


Jon : Carrick

Indie Animations Worth a Look!

I’m always down for Coraline or the Nightmare Before Christmas, and Up made me cry like a baby (in a good way).  But just because big-name movies are easy to locate doesn’t mean they’re the only ones worth seeing!

There are tons of art house, foreign studio, or amateur “scrapster” animations that are not to be missed. Next time you’re looking for something different to watch, try one of these…they’re all at the library.

Whoa! Sita Sings the Blues weaves together the passion of love, the sadness of breakups, a 3,000 year-old Sanskrit epic story called Ramayana (told in graphic novel here), and the 1920’s blues croonings of Annette Hanshaw. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. Each narrative is told in a different style of animation–which keeps things clear and interesting. This film is a great example of what novice filmmakers can do with a little passion and time  – filmmaker Nina Paley had never animated anything longer than a few minutes when she started making this one.

Watch as Alice‘s inanimate world comes to life in this quietly bizarre stop-motion film. If you grew up with Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, it may seem twee in comparison with this darker 1988 adaptation. I shiver every time the White Rabbit chomps his teeth. This version of Alice is really faithful to the classic Lewis Carroll, where the world of Alice that you think you know expands. If you’ve participated in QuickFLIX already this summer, you may find inspiration for your next stop-motion creation here!

Mary and Max is an Australian claymation film set in the 1960s that follows the unlikely friendship of two pen-pals. Mary Dinkle is a lonely, homely kid in Melbourne. Her mom is an alchoholic, and her dad just seems not to care – so picks a name out of a phone book and begins writing to Max, who she learns is an obese New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome. Over 20 years (don’t worry – they go fast), the quirky duo follows and changes one another’s lives.

The Secret of Kells is the story of the book that “turns darkness into light.” Brendan lives with monks at a remote outpost, Iona, when a visit from a master artist turns everything upside-down. He confronts evil, hidden in a deeply enchanted forest, and his darkest fears. If you like quest stories, faeries, Ireland, or medieval art, this one’s for you.

The stylings throughout this film are a clear homage to the painstakingly elaborate illuminated manuscripts of medieval Ireland–heck, the Book of Kells is one. For you art history buffs (I know you’re out there!), this is icing on an already delicious cake.

Madame Sousa’s grandson is kidnapped while riding the Tour de France, but she’s not just going to sit and watch it happen. She enlists her pooch, Bruno, and a spinster trio of jazz singers (because hey, why not?) to help her find young Champion. The upbeat retro soundtrack of The Triplets of Belleville is a little bit reminiscent of the music from a high-school classic, Ghost World, and the animation – well…watch it and find out!

These are just a handful of what we’ve got at the library, but what do you think? What’s the best animated film for teens?

Whitney, CLP – Main

Scratch Day @ CLP Main- Teen: Saturday 5/19 from 1 to 4


Are you interested in creating digital videos, games, and animation?  Do you have a vision and passion for digital art, but lack the technical skills?  If you answered yes, then  Scratch is the perfect programming language for you.  Scratch is a visual programming language that was developed by MIT students in order to offer beginner programmers a simple way to create their own interactive stories, games, animations, music, and art.  Scratch is free to download, easy to learn, and offers a safe and supportive community of Scratchers to share your creations with.

Scratch DaySaturday, May 19, 2012– is a worldwide network of gatherings, where people come together to meet fellow Scratchers, share projects and experiences and learn more about Scratch. Last year, more than 125 Scratch Day events were held in 36 countries around the globe.  Scratch Day @ CLP Main- Teen will feature tutorials for newbies, games to help you hone your Scratch abilities, skill sharing for advanced Scratchers, a project showcase, Scratch the Cat button making, peer Scratch tutors, fun, community, and more!

Pittsburgh teenagers (grade 6-12), mentors and educators are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop to the event.  But don’t despair if you can’t bring your own equipment- you will NOT be left out.  A limited number of laptops will be provided for use during the program.

Scratch Day in Pittsburgh is presented by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Chevron Center for STEM Education and career Development at Carnegie Science Center, The Ellis School and Girls, Math & Science Partnership (a program of Carnegie Science Center). This event is sponsored by The Ellis School and Spark, Supporting the Kids+Creativity Network.

Event web site: http://day.scratch.mit.edu/event/554

Presented by: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Chevron Center for STEM Education and career Development at Carnegie Science Center, The Ellis School and Girls, Math & Science Partnership a program of Carnegie Science Center

Event fee: FREE

Sponsor: The Ellis School and Spark, Supporting the Kids+Creativity Network

Some refreshments will be provided.

Saturday, May 19, 2012
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Teens- Main
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA   15213

For more information, contact:

Have an animated Thanksgiving!

If you’re anything like me, you might crave some alone time away from the family this Thanksgiving holiday (or you may just want to skip out on helping with the dishes).  Here are some fun ways to occupy your time, allowing you to create your own animations, on your computer or smart phone.


Scratch is a programming language developed by MIT “that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.”  It’s free to join and share things.  Once you create a Scratch project, people can interact with it or download and remix it.  For example, someone has made a calculator using Scratch!  You can also make games to play – there’s a gallery here.  And if you get stuck, there’s a Support page and Forums.


Unfortunately, this is only available as a Nintendo DSi program, but you can also browse and watch the Flipnotes that others have created using their DSi.  Since the program is available worldwide, there are many international Flipnotes, and it could be a fun way to practice your Japanese!

Still from a stopmotion animation creation by flickr user Regev Tovim

For those of you who took our Quick Flix workshops, taught by awesome people from Pittsburgh Filmmakers, I have some free Stopmotion and other animation programs!  These require some downloads and tutorials, but could take your filmmaking to the next level.

Animate Clay

This has how-to videos, a newsletter, video interviews with animators and free motion capture software for download. It was created by animator Mark Spess, who taught himself to do stop-motion and thought there should be a place online for fellow animators to learn and share their craft.

Clay Animator

This software is based on the Anasazi software from the Animate Clay website, and can work with a built in PC camera or digital camera connected to your PC.


This is free 2-D animation software, “designed as powerful industrial-strength solution for creating film-quality animation using a vector and bitmap artwork. It eliminates the need to create animation frame-by frame, allowing you to produce 2D animation of a higher quality with fewer people and resources.”


Unlike many of these programs, Pencil works with Macs as well as PCs, and can be used for traditional hand-drawn animation.  Here’s an example of something made with Pencil:


Blender can do 3-D rendering and is free and open source for all operating systems.  The effects in this movie were made using Blender:

Before you start out on your journey, you can always use your local library to do some basic research on making animation!

– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty


Holly’s previous post about the good things that having a library space for teens to go to was awesome and very inspiring.  But just because you’re in the library and off the streets doesn’t mean that the streets can’t come to you, in other awesome and inspiring ways.

I’d like to showcase some of my current favorite street animations and one extremely talented Ukranian teenager, in case you’re somehow bored at the library and have the time to spare:

First, from the artist named blu, we have a wall-painted animation.

I don’t need to remind you that graffiti is vandalism, but it seems like blu cleaned up after his/herself.  Incidentally, there are some books I can recommend on the subject of teen graffiti artists:

Dirty Laundry by Daniel Ehrenhaft: “Carli, a teen actress who has gone undercover at a New England boarding school in order to research a role, hooks up with a student graffiti artist to investigate the disappearance of another of the school’s pupils.”




Zee’s Way by Kristin Butcher:Zee and his friends are angry that their old haunt has been replaced by stores that are off-limits to them and storekeepers who treat them with distrust. To let the merchants know what he and his friends think, Zee paints graffiti on the wall of the hardware store. After the wall is repainted, Zee decides to repeat the vandalism, but this time with more artistic flair. A store owner catches him in the act and threatens to call the police–unless Zee agrees to repair the damage.”

Trash by Sharon Darrow: “Graffiti artists Sissy Lexie and younger brother Boy try to maintain a sense of family while living in a series of foster homes and staying with their older sister, until a tragic accident forces Sissy to make decisions about her future.”




Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra: “A Mexican American high school student in a small California town is drawn into the underground world of graffiti art, feeling that it is the only way to express herself artistically and still remain true to her cultural identity.”




Feel weird about writing on walls? Then check out this cardboard animation of weirdly cute bug/monster invaders, done by Sjors Vervoort:

Want to make your own animation?  We have these books to help you:

The Animation Bible: a practical guide to the art of animating, from flipbooks to Flash by Maureen Furniss




Animation unleashed : 100 principles every animator, comic book writer, filmmaker, video artist and game developer should know by Ellen Besen



and more…

And finally, a showstopper: Ukraine’s Got Talent featured a teenager named Kseniya Simonova, who told a story about World War II using only sand and music.  I’ve never watched the American version of this show, but I’m willing to bet it hasn’t featured an insanely talented sand artist.  You must experience it!

Get Animated at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

If to animate is to give life, then no place is more lively than the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s TEEN department. At last week’s art club, we cut, pasted, drew, and took picture after picture to create a stop-motion animation, entitled “Hi.”

Are you interested in trying your hand at animation? Check out Ron Miller’s Digital Art: Painting with Pixels, your guide to getting started with digital art, from 3-D modeling to animation and special effects. You also might want to check out Maureen Furniss’s The Animation Bible: A Practical Guide to the Art of Animating, from Flipbooks to Flash. This is an amazing book that takes you through ever aspect of the process, including digital and hand-drawn works.

If you’re wondering how you might be able to get started on your own, there is also some really powerful (and FREE!) software available to assist you. Check out Pencil, a free animation/drawing program, and Blender, a free, powerful 3-D animation studio.

If you have any animations to share, please link us. Everybody can use a little life during these cold, snowy times.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main

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