Another interesting site is http://www.amathsdictionaryforkids.com/ which teaches basic mathematics using animation. Apart from being easy to use, it teaches the process of visualisation, which is a greatly underused ability.
By chance today I see that Microsoft has just taken out a patent on software to help "children write stories". I wondered if Microsoft are trying to put me out of business! But on checking their patent, it seems to be related to manipulating images- so that's OK.
The easiest way to get children to start writing is to let them write 'All About Me', covering what their favourite food, sport, lessons, etc, are, and what they dislike most. Of course, Social Networking and Blogs are just that in a more elaborate form.
Writing about oneself is a great therapy - as is talking about oneself. And part of that therapy is due to the fact that someone is actually interested in us. But of course, not everyone who is interested in us has the same motives.
There are lots of online questionnaires asking us details of our buying habits and social activities so they can draw up a 'Profile' for marketing; that's innocent enough, and we all know what it is about.
But supposing these marketing profiles and our networking/blog profiles were matched up, it would give a fairly accurate picture of who we are and what we look like. Well, the 'Big Brother' idea has been done to death, but I'm thinking in terms of creating characters for stories.
Would it ever be possible to feed a computer a profile of someone based on their Blog/Network profile, and buying habits, and get a reasonably accurate image of the person?
I for one, wouldn't say it couldn't be done. I shall be keeping a beady eye out for more Microsoft patents.
I heard a story that a lady at a party asked some guy what he did for a living. He said he wrote the scripts for the Bugs Bunny series. She said "Bugs Bunny doesn't need a scriptwriter, he's funny enough himself".
I met Chuck Jones at a party and asked him if this story was true. He hadn't heard of it but said it was quite possible, and related a similar case.
I mention this because over the years I have been sent a number of ideas for Animated TV series by students and animators who feel that TV Studios are on the lookout for new material; they rarely are. There is a feeling that once you have a character as a design, it has a life of its own, and the scriptwriter simply has to record it!!!
My advice to those attempting to do ideas for animated TV series is to look at how many of the past series started as this will show how the characters and storyline have been developed.
The Pink Panther started as a film title, and The Care Bears started as toys. Thomas the Tank engine was born as a book character, and Popeye as a comic. The Muppet Cartoon started as live-action puppets, while the Super Mario Brothers came into being as a computer game. Some familiarity with all of these markets is necessary if you want to write for animation.
There are several others sources for animated series but the common element in the above examples is that these characters were established before being made into a series. It is not hard to pitch an idea when you start from this basis.
Another advantage is to have your own studio and be able to use spare time to produce a pilot for an idea. If the pilot is accepted then it is usually not too difficult to get production money.
A third situation is to be the producer of someone elses series, and come up with your own idea which can be based on your knowledge of the market, as well as having the facilities to test out your idea. Needless to say, few people are in such favourable positions of being able to set up a series.
But there are a couple of ways that offer hope; the first is to become a contributor to someone elses series; and secondly to get your work published in some other medium such as a book/comic etc. It is not enough to understand about animation, you also need to understand 'Markets' because that is what pitching is about. Unfortunately this is a subject rarely included in Animation Courses.