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Digital Art Studio

The underground Digital Art Studio at the Durham Arts Council.

Yesterday I took a class about how to animate poetry. I first learned about this class over the winter. At that time, the Durham Arts Council (DAC) held the class for a youth audience only. I had contacted DAC and asked if I could audit the class, or pay an adult registration price in order to take it. Unfortunately, they were unable to accommodate.

A few months later, I received a note from them that another poetry animation class had been scheduled, and this time it was for adults! I signed up right away.

The class used Adobe After Effects for the animation. I’ve used many Adobe products, but never this one. Fortunately, it was very similar to Photoshop and Premiere. Using the program didn’t feel too intimidating.

The class was structured in a way that each student received one line of a poem. Our class’ poem was Shel Silverstein’s “Snowball.” (Quite the lovely selection on a 94-degree summer day!) Our instructor, artist and illustrator Ryan Grady from Raleigh, walked us through setting up our digital workspace in After Effects, learning the placement and abilities of the tools, and adding our first word. Then we animated the word and started adding more.

animation software

First time using After Effects!

We played with fade/opacity, “bouncing” words, and she also had an audio file for each of us that she had selected in advance to suit our line of the poem.

At the end, she planned for us to render our files and then she was going to combine them to form one animation of the poem. However, some technical difficulties (Mac v PC woe) prevented the final merge of all our clips, so it may be awhile before I receive a link to the full animation.

Instead, we walked around the room and watched each line animate on each student’s computer. I learned a few cool style choices from the other students. Some animated the letters instead of the words, others made the words appear to bulge and contract, and others played more with the composition of the words in the space.

After Effects is a program I would love to spend more time using! The next time I use it, I hope to animate a haiku. I think that would be a good starter project. Have you made any poetry animations?