It was like watching cartoons at home on Saturday morning.
Only it was Friday morning at the 13th AV Dream Center and some 70 youngsters were absorbed by animated short films in the darkened gym.
There was laughter.
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There were ooohs and aaahs.
There was applause.
“Good show,” said Peyton Moore, 9.
“Inspiring,” said Diana Waiters, 10.
“I’d like to do that,” said Amajae Hart, 10.
Which was music to the ears of Karen Sullivan.
A faculty member in the department of computer animation at Ringling College of Art and Design, she presented a 45-minute program that included a series of impressive two-minute videos that constituted the senior projects of several Ringling students.
“The idea is to get these children excited about animation, showing them it can be something besides something funny, slapstick,” Sullivan said. “There’s a range of what that can be -- something personal, something scary, something funny as well as something that will pull at your heartstrings.”
The children had their pick of those.
n “Origins” -- Robert Showalter’s enchanting piece about a tiny mechanical creature who journeys to the factory where he was made. After satisfying his curiosity, he skips contentedly into the sunset.
n “Bubbles” -- Gabby Zapata’s charming short about a girl finding a jar of blow bubbles that magically carry her aloft. Upon landing, she spots a sad-faced girl and leaves the bubbles for her to enjoy.
n “Mourning Dove” -- Alex Runde’s touching film about a couple separated by war. The wife is seriously wounded in combat and dies in her husband’s arms in the hospital.
Its message wasn’t lost on the young audience.
“I related to it because that happens to some people,” Amajae said.
Ringling students spent nearly 30 weeks on their films, including six weeks on pre-production -- story development, character design, story boards, etc.
“You have to be committed to do this and most of them are,” Sullivan said. “Our kids can make something small that’s powerful.”
Drena Green was moved by Friday morning’s showing on a number of levels.
“It takes me back to my childhood -- Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner,” said the center’s director of operations. “It also takes away from the violence these children see in movies. It’s OK to be a kid, OK to enjoy cartoons.”
Green also believed children in Friday morning’s audience have such creative potential utilizing the center’s computer classrooms.
“This will spark them,” she said.