Tony Dyson.

Au revoir, Tony Dyson.
Tony passed away on March 2, 2016.

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I am thankful for the years we worked together and everything that he taught me, and for the inspirational roller-coaster ride that started when we met in Second Life in 2011.

Tony became my friend, teacher and business partner and we started a film production company called Scissores, producing machinima or as Tony called it: Real Time Animation.

Tony became head of jury when I produced the 48 Hour Film Project Machinima.
After working together online for 2 years,  we met in Finland and later in Gozo (Malta) and started working on educational and promotional machinima shorts and a book ‘Clive & Sue and the Medieval Farm’.
We created The Bobbekins movie, an animated short film, which I will be submitting to festivals soon.
While carrying on with our machinima work, nobody will miss you as much as I do.
With a different view on the world since we met, I thank you for re-activating the artist in me.

Some of our films:
Their time will come
It’s great to be alive
Robotworld, Sam and Sam
Android Love
Artists in the desert

THE EXPLODING WORLD OF KIDS TABLETS

Panelists at CynKids tablet webinar shared some terrific insights on best practices to expand brands into the tablet realm.

 

bobbekins-chantal-harvey-tabletSome highlights:
–  Kids are finding their way to brand websites through tablet apps. As of March, PBS Kids is getting 13 million unique visitors a month, many directly from apps, said Abby Jenkins, director of content for PBS Kids Digital.

 

“We like to show variety in our apps, different characters, different aspects of the curriculum” to attract a variety of kids and parents, she said.

–  Discover-ability remains a challenge. “This is the biggest issue when developing apps for tablets,” said Caroline Fraser, VP, digital products and production, at Scholastic Media. Scholastic releases apps around big programming events and anniversaries, “so we have increased marketing muscle around them.”

–  When developing an app, don’t overlook the unique ergonomics of a 3-year old. “It’s very difficult for kids to move around with a heavy tablet,” said Mindy Brooks, Sesame Workshop director of research and education. “We don’t allow for tilting and moving the tablet within apps.” The other reason Sesame says no to tilting: “We don’t want the kids dropping and shattering mom’s iPad.” Fair enough.

–  Kids are interacting with content across multiple, emerging platforms. Keep up. “Technology is anything that was developed after you were born,” said Graham Farrar, president of Cupcake Digital’s iStoryTime. “You ignore a platform at your peril.”

Source: Cynopsis media.

 

Tony Dyson, the man behind R2-D2

Tony Dyson, the man behind R2-D2, the most lovable little robot in the world, is now casting his magical spell on the world of children’s e-Books by adding advanced animation on every page. Welcome to the world of Bobbekins.

One of the most innovative ideas for children’s e-Books this year, the magical world of Bobbekins is true to the style of storytelling of old, but designed for children of today.

It speaks from the heart and minds of its authors of magical worlds and dreams that can come true, but it never speaks down to your child in any way.

The man behind Star Wars R2-D2. The versatile Emmy nominated Film SFX supervisor is the creative genius at the helm of many of the biggest SCI-FI movies to date. Among them are Superman 2, Moon Raker, Dragon Slayer, and of course, The Empire Strikes Back. “Professor Anthony John Dyson obss”

When it comes to Robot technicians Tony is quite unique, as well as building one of the most famous Robots ever, R2-D2 he has also designed and built Robots for some of the largest electronic companies in the world, for example Sony, Philips and Toshiba.

You can also find examples of his creations on permanent display in one of the most prestige’s museums in the world ‘Smithsonian Institution’ and R2-D2 was one of the very first Robots to be honored in the ‘Carnegie Mellon University’ Robot Hall of Fame and Tony was also Nominated for an ‘Emmy’ for the Sony television commercial.

Netdreamer Publications are doing it right

 

On January 24, an American survey of 1,500 parents of kids 2-10 by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, founded by Sesame Workshop, tells us that 57% of these parents believes their children learn significantly from educational media. The parents also state that learning from mobile devices falls short when compared to other platforms.

The study, Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America, speaks of a drop in educational media use after the earliest years.

As screen media use goes up, the proportion devoted to educational content goes down, from 78% of all screen media among 2-4-year-olds to 39% among 5-7-year-olds to 27% among 8-10-year-olds.

Remember; at a young age the parents provide the choice of media, but as soon as the child gets to choose, things change dramatically. Key is creating and providing higher quality and more fun media, as it tells us that non educational content is more fun. I wonder why there has been so little improvement in for example e-books for children, there are of course exceptions, but mostly they still show pretty primitive animations. Kids will not settle for that, not anymore.

I agree with Dr. Michael H. Levine, the Center’s exec director. “As we work to raise education standards and improve students’ success, we must provide higher quality media options-especially on mobile-that will help engage and educate today’s older children.”

Bobbekins-Clive-reading-ebooks

Among other key findings:

–  2-4-year olds spend more time per day on educational media than any other age group – 1 hr, 16 mins compared with 50 minutes for 5-7-yr-olds and 42 minutes for 8-10-yr-olds.

 

–  Television continues to dominate, with children spending an average 42 minutes a day with educational TV compared to 5 minutes with educational content on mobile devices and computers and 3 minutes with educational video games.

–  39% of parents say their child has learned “a lot” about any subject from mobile compared to 52% for TV.

–  Children are reading an average 40 minutes per day, including 29 minutes with print, 8 minutes on computers, and 5 minutes using e-platforms.

The Bobbekins are here

Bobbekins are a magical race, a little like fairies and elves, but from a world far-far away.

They do spend a lot of time traveling from planet to planet, helping others. One day Bobby Bobbekin, that’s Sue and Clive’s father, found this amazing world that he named ‘Toy City’.  He had never seen anything like it, ever. Right from the very first time he saw it, it was like a dream come true. The city had something that the Bobbekins had been wishing for, for a long-long time; somewhere that they could call their home.

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The BobbeKins are here

The Magical Man behind Star Wars’ R2-D2 and the Bobbekins


An Interview with Scissores’ Tony Dyson & Chantal Harvey

By Phylis Johnson aka Sonicity Fitzroy, for BOSL magazine


 My journey to Bobbekins began a bit like this….

Scissores, Tony Dyson, Chantal Harvey, Clive, Bobbekins, Bobbekinworld, transmedia,

“This is the magic castle where the wizard sits and teaches,” announces my tour guide. The colors are vibrant, and the room is full of majesty and magic.   She teases me with the wonders that abound, and continues,“A big part of our story is here.”

Where am I, I think?  I was transported into a land of colors and shapes, books, candy, castles, glitter and sparkles, and buttons that zip me across this strange but intriguing universe.  I ponder who are these fantastic creatures of various colors – red, green, blue and yellow, all with eye-popping curiosity?   Ah, I am told that these inquisitive beings are the Bobbekins.  A couch nearby takes us to five mainHolodecks; from there so many lands unfold, opening up infinite possibilities for stories yet untold.

Bobbekins, e-books, children, Tony Dyson, Chantal Harvey, Scissores

 My tour guide takes me back to the castle, asking, “Would you join me on the magic carpet here?  Oops, beware the hole!”   She laughs, as I step around it, then exclaiming, “This is Toy City.  Welcome!”

That is where the main stories take place in this wonderful adventure now set into motion by legendary special effects artist/engineer Tony Dyson of Star Wars fame (and so many other Hollywood blockbusters) and professional Dutch filmmaker/machinimatographer Chantal Harvey.  My host today is Chantal, also dressed as one of the stars, Clive, a Bobbekin.

 

Welcome to Toy City

Chantal explains, “Toy City is a living city; it forever changes, like overnight. We have around 100 avatars involved.  Most are fantasy creatures.”  She tells me, “Tony built the sets on the ground.  I am dressed as one of the stars – Clive!”

Scissores, Tony Dyson, Chantal Harvey, Clive, Bobbekins, Bobbekinworld, transmedia,

“Adorable,” I respond. “Wow, I can see this in the stores!”

Chantal Harvey adds, “and on real life t-shirts.”  Recently, Chantal took her project to a university nearby where she lives, and presented it to 74 marketing students, and had them experiment with some test marketing. “The reports so far look good.”

Scissores, Tony Dyson, Chantal Harvey, Clive, Bobbekins, Bobbekinworld, transmedia,

The Bobbekins are loveable fantasy creatures with the ultimate mission of teaching children from all around the world through interactive play.  Chantal explains, “I’d like to think of our series as somewhere between Sesame Street and Teletubbies, and we are going for high quality.   We have strived for the best graphic art, and Tony is the best writer, and we bring all our experience into this project.  I have been in Second Life for more than four years.  But working with Tony has helped me see Second Life in a wonderful way, almost like Hollywood, but easier.  We don’t use the use pre-existing sims as designed by others – we control the environment.”

Scissores, Tony Dyson, Chantal Harvey, Clive, Bobbekins, Bobbekinworld, transmedia,

Although both work thousands of miles apart, they have been spending most of their days, and many late nights together in Second Life, implementing their vision for what they believe is the next step in professional animation production – machinima, or what Tony calls “real time animation,” a term he coined way back when he was in the midst of production for various Hollywood block buster movies.    What many people don’t realize is that Tony is also a children’s book writer, and his love for fantasy worlds was a natural for this ambitious project that includes a television show series and digital e-books.

Suddenly, as if she received a news bulletin, she interrupts, enthusiastically, “I just talked to Tony, and we can give you a scoop – we are starting a Machinima Film Academy this summer, with film assignments, workshops and a membership website, plus a signed ‘Certificate of Completion’ at the end of his course.  So if anyone would like to learn the art of the next and hottest film trend this century ‘Machinima’, don’t let this opportunity pass you by, secure your place now and learn from the very best.”

The coming together of so many elements still amazes them.  All their hard work and vision is now a reality, at least virtually!  Machinima is at the core of this project.

Scissores:  Cutting Edge Machinima

“I quoted the phrase ‘real time animation’ in 1983.  It was a direct form of animation that is quite amazing, a totally different way of filming, making characters and building sets. There are some challenges.   The movements in SL are still second rate, so you must find tricks to compensate.”     Because of the difficulty of using human avatars, Tony adds, “Second Life lends itself to fantasy creatures.”  And that is something Tony has quite extensive experience with, the creation of imaginative characters.  He continues, “The Bobbekins were given to us.  I worked on the stories, and there are seven main characters, with which you can pick and choose in story or game forms, or both.  From the start, I liked the idea that they would be like fairies from a different world, living in houses of toys or teapots, all in a full size city.  All in all, I have built 26 different sets for this TV series.”

With Chantal, Tony works under the company name of Scissores. Chantal states, “We work a lot;  spending 5 to 8 hours daily planning, organizing, filming, refilming, testing, writing, and filming.”   She adds, “Think of it this way, we are creating a virtual school.   It is virtual teaching, in essence teaching the basics to children through a TV Series.”   You can sense her excitement, having spent so many months on this project.

Beyond Tony and Chantal, they have 14 people on staff in various capacities.  “The biggest joy and challenge is teamwork,” she notes. “Our whole project is run like a professional studio. For this project, we have fantastic avatars created by Mad Cow.  The Bobbekins were especially created for this series, and for now we are targeting pre-school and down the road, older children.”

In her role as SL Founder of the 48 Hour Film Project, she met Tony, who she asked to judge the 2011 competition.  The most exciting thing for Chantal is to “pick Tony’s mind.   I had to think differently, plan everything, lighting and so many elements.   It is a big job, but we laugh a lot, and we certainly are professional about it.”

Fantasy Abounds in Second Life

There must be “truth” in a story, that credible connection between the audience and the characters. Tony explains, “We tend to look carefully at humanoid expressions and actions.  Those outside of SL still think ‘what am I looking at,’ when they look at human representations through machinima. We found out that by using fantasy creatures in SL, your audience doesn’t miss those emotions.  You can put some feeling into the character in a unique way, one that is not comparable to how we would expect a human to act, for instance.  Human bodies are still rigid in here.   It does take time learning what works in here, and learning what camera movements work even for fantasy creatures.”

Scissores, Tony Dyson, Chantal Harvey, Clive, Bobbekins, Bobbekinworld, transmedia,

The magical race of the Bobbekins might be considered comparable to fairies and elves. Second Life has always been a friendly host to such beings.  The themed subjects are what you would anticipate for the series (i.e. the alphabet, fruits and vegetables) within storylinesinspired by the professional wisdom and caring spirits of Tony, Chantal and those who have helped them along the way.

The Bobbekins spend all their time helping others, “like all magical creatures might be expected to in such a place,” notes Tony.   As the story goes, they even launched their own television station so they could share their lessons with children.   They travelled like nomads from planet to planet, until one day they discover Toy City, and the plot thickens when the Bobbekins find a way to make a home through good deeds.

Hmmm.  Good deeds.  Maybe we might learn a bit in Second Life from the Bobbekins!

Tony muses, saying, “You know, I have to say, I like it when a plan comes together.”  And this one has, most definitely.  Tony reminds us, a lesson learned from having a full life, “It’s exciting to teach children.”  Like the Bobbekins, Tony likes to share his wisdom from his life’s adventures, one that has taken him to Hollywood and across the world, virtual worlds too!