Girls Write Now Digital Remix: dorkshop 2

Follow along as the Girls Write Now Remixers continue their Digital Remix Portfolio adventure, taking written work–their own, their peers’, or work submitted by our very own Figgies–and using images, animation, photographs, sound, and video to tell these stories in a whole new way. The results are stirring, imaginative, and daring multi-media pieces. Each month Remixers attend a digital workshop (dorkShops!) where they learn a new digital storytelling technique. This week, we turn the spotlight on Remixers Monica and Elaine, as they give us the inside scoop on animating text.

This week’s GWN Remixers

Meet GWN mentee Monica: Monica is a junior at Baruch College Campus High School, born and raised in NYC. This is Monica’s second year with GWN. Monica says of her digital self, “I am not a stalker, a hacker, or even a computer wizard; I am just a Facebook, AIM, Hulu type of girl.”

Meet GWN mentor Elaine: Elaine is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer specializing in travel, culture, and the arts. Elaine describes herself digitally as “Print journalist turned multimedia pioneer! I don’t blog or tweet and have yet to succeed in making a professional web site, but I’m eager to become a more active (and adept) participant in the digital world.”

See How They Remix

At each workshop, the Remixers learn how to use new digital media platforms to turn the winning Figment stories, and their own work, into reinvented, reimagined pieces–and we’ll be giving you a glimpse into each of the dorkShops.

For the past few weeks Monica and Elaine have been hard at work, mixing, and remixing Monica’s original poem, “A Postcard,” into an animated video that brings new meaning to the term “wordplay.”

But how did it all start? Let’s go back to the beginning. “Monica and I began by imagining the concept for her remix based on both the words and the mood of her original poem,” Elaine tells us. “Then we set out to collect images—some literal and some more evocative. We spent a blustery afternoon in Battery Park shooting (and often chasing) a postcard for her piece and experimenting with stop motion techniques. But the story didn’t really emerge until we began editing the materials back at the lab. In choosing which lines to animate, we discovered the repetition of the words ‘a postcard’ throughout the poem provided a natural thread.”

We asked Monica to give us the ins and outs of the remix process, and to tell us about what goes on “back at  the lab.” “Last week Elaine and I met with one of the dorkShop leaders, Monica A., at the Parsons Computer lab. We explored the After Effects program by putting together the pictures that Elaine and I had taken earlier.” Stringing images together to tell a story–sounds easy, right? Not quite. There’s a whole lot more to this art than meets the eye. “Monica A. helped us first to build a narrative, creating coherent connections and meaning between the pictures,” Monica explains. “She then taught us how to change the time lengths for each picture, to add text, to animate the text, to change the opacity (how see-through something is) of the pictures, to add music, and much more!”

Each small movement, every picture and individual word, needed to be planned carefully. “Small mistakes had big impacts on the movie,” Monica learned. “Since each picture/text box is ordered chronologically, each piece influenced the next.” But not all mistakes need to be corrected. “Occasionally, however, these mistakes could prove to be assets to the storytelling. While changing the animation of one line of text, we forgot to change the piece of text trailing it, but the different movements of each line appeared nicely together.” So they kept it!

“There are so many more choices to make,” Elaine adds, “It takes a lot of painstaking detail work and patience to realize your vision.”

From the Page to the Big Screen: This is the Remix

“A postcard that I will never send,” begins the piece.

A Postcard from Girls Write Now on Vimeo.

As the words appear and then fade onscreen you can’t help but think of all the unsent postcards and letters in your own life.

Even for the Remixers, seeing “A Postcard” in its new form made them think differently about the piece. “It is incredibly cool to see how words and images take on new meaning when brought to life in this way,” Elaine tells us.

Monica hopes her piece will inspire others to try animation, even if they’ve never done anything like it before. “I still can’t believe I made a movie; only a couple of months ago the thought of adding text to images on programs other than Microsoft Word documents would have been mind blowing!”

For more info about GWN Digital Remix Portfolio, and to check out more projects from Monica and Elaine, Georgia and Karen, Chandra and Claudia, and all the other GWN Remixers, visit

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