I am a Graduate Diploma of Fine Arts student from Quay School of Arts in a small town called Wanganui about 2 hours from Wellington in New Zealand.

I learned animation only the year before last, doing both stop motion animation and drawn animation with the most rudimentary equipment, a $100 point and shot camera on a normal camera tripod. At that stage, I had no idea of the importance of controlling lighting, no specialized animation software , nothing but an instant liking for animation !

I first met Rose Bond at PNCA on a research trip in the winter of 2012/2013. Rose is an associate professor and department chair in Animated Arts. She is an internationally recognized artist in her own right. . She invited me back to Boundary Crossings (a 2 week workshop from July 29th-August 9th at Pacific North West College of Arts(PNCA),Portland, Oregon, US) later that year.

The brief for the workshop was exploring digital animation and an expanded notion of the screen. The traditional boundaries between live action, animation, and images are no longer fixed and hybrid moving images continue to change and morph with the development of digital technologies. 

The theme for 2013 was “Cyber Folklore”:

“animation that reflects not only national and ethnic traditions but also the new acquired and mixed cultural backgrounds of a generation that came of age around computers. Artistic movements such as Balinese puppet theatre, Eastern-European animation, or Japanese Micropop are investigated as examples of the wide range of possible interpretations of folklore. The main purpose of the Institute is to provide a platform for artists to develop animations that embrace diverse traditions as well as new forms.”

On Monday, the workshop started off with an introduction to the brief, and the tutors leading it. As well as Rose Bond we met, Kota Ezawa, the other facility member. Visiting artists included Marina Zurkow, Katya Bonnenfant (Old Boys Club) and fellow New Zealander Miriam Harris (24 Czech & Polish Animators).

The facilities were outstanding, so many different animation setups to play with and use, from Lunchbox stop motion to Dragonframe based capture systems. There was also a vast range of cameras and projection equipment. From the latest media players and pico projectors, to powerful conventional data projectors

The group workshops included from using software such Photoshop and Adobe After Effects with Koto Ezawa for digital compositing. Individual tuition was available for people not familiar with equipment such as the Dragonframe based software based stop motion setup and using Lunchbox for stop motion animation capture.

I’d struggled on my own for two years trying to pick up Adobes’ After Effects, after 2 hours with an experienced teacher and user, I felt totally empowered. In my last exhibition only months later, I had an After Effects based projection with over 40 layers, using expressions to tie and animate it to music. I also came away with a great workflow process for working with video equipment, start with the video projector, was one of the crucial lessons, find out the resolution that you will project with, and work all your source material with that in mind.

We had a great program of guest artists talking about their work, ranging from group discussions, to individual talks, to a film/video screening. We had group critiques of the participant work and written statements about it.  The workshop gave me the confidence to have an end of year installation that has involved 3 projectors, one conventional, and two pico projectors, one mounted in a cardboard tube, and one in an old gutted overhead projector, using one of the mirrors in the head to project the output from the projector onto the wall.


Mike Nixon is a New Zealand based artist, working in various mediums including web design and recently animation.