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FlickerLab Creates 13 Hours of Animation For Hooked on Phonics

For the first time in 20 years, Hooked on Phonics(r), has redesigned its flagship product, Learn to Read, and incorporated some of the latest reading and literacy research into proven lesson strategies and reading activities designed to teach children fundamental reading skills.   

For the redesign of their flagship product, Hooked On Phonics turned to FlickerLab which created 13 hours of animation for the new series of nine Learn to Read  DVD's.    

FlickerLab, the New York design and animation studio, was involved in the creative development of the video materials from inception through delivery of the final authored DVD's. They created the content for the nine DVD videos that are integral to their new Learn to Read Program. The DVD's combine character animation, motion graphics and some live-action footage, "forming a critical part of a series of entertaining and educational reading programs for  children ages 3-8 years. They are filled with hours of fun, brain-building activities -- three discs for pre-k, two for kindergarten, two for first grade and two for second grade.  


Double click to play video

FlickerLab Managing Partner/Creative Director Harold Moss explained the project. " Hooked on Phonics came to us for assistance with a major revamping of their existing Learn to Read system. This was the first time they incorporated video and animation directly into the learning system and they asked us to produce the DVD package and develop an entire visual system from the ground up. This included animating the type, developing of sense of character for each letter, making them fun to watch and also making sure that every sound effect, gag and motion helped carry the information. Developing a set of rules and ways of making every element playful was a challenge and a rather complex process as each choice had to reinforce the learning system." 

"Last fall, the FlickerLab team began brainstorming and developing ideas with our clients Russell Ginns and Christopher Medellin, talking about how to make this work. Then Bryan Cox, our lead visual phonics designer, culled through the suggestions from the brainstorming sessions and made a series of design and animation tests for animating words and letters. On the aesthetic side, Alisa Harris and Thomas Smolenski did the initial animation tests with the characters and Alisa was the main designer who adapted the characters from the Hooked on Phonics story and workbooks to use in FlickerLab's series of character animations that made learning playful and entertaining," stated Franklin Zitter, FlickerLab Co-Executive Producer. "Working with the characters, Russell then wrote a song for each letter of the alphabet which is featured in the animated pre-K music videos. The project was a challenge but we knew we had hit the right note when a segment of type animation in a lesson was so joyful that we could not stop looping and re-watching it."  

Zitter, who was responsible for the management of the workflow/production pipeline and the review process for all of the project elements, both in-house and with the clients, continued, "There were many thousands of interlocking pieces of media and curriculum that had to be tied in so this project was much larger than just creating 13 hours of animation. In many ways it had the complexity of designing a video game or a very complex interactive website." 

Smarterville/Hooked on Phonics Senior Director of Product Development Russell Ginns said of his FlickerLab experience, "Working with FlickerLab was a unique partnership. They brought so many creative ideas to the table and together we applied them to all the goals of our reading program. The result is obvious. Their energy and thoughtfulness really shines through in all of our interactive lessons." 

Smarterville Children's Product Producer/Senior Producer Christopher Medellin added,  "I had the best working experience with FlickerLab so I can only give you a rave review.  Working with them has been fantastic on very level. They are extremely creative, very cooperative and responsive. They built on every idea we gave and helped us create a wonderful new product."  

Added FlickerLab Partner/Executive Producer Tammy Walters,  "Russell and Christopher were dream clients to work with, bringing to us an this amazing new learning system and building a true creative partnership with FlickerLab that let us all bring our best to the table."

The FlickerLab creative team, led by Creative Director Harold Moss,  Executive Producer Tammy Walters and Co-Executive Producer Franklin S. Zitter,  included Associate Producer Kea Kelly Alcock; Lead Visual Phonics Text Designer And Animator Bryan Cox, Designer/Animators/Compositors Simon Ampel, Vanessa Appleby, Nick Bertonazzi, Thomas Bone, Chia Hui Hou, Bryan Cox, Dan Forgione, Alisa Harris, Andrew Kaiko, Philip Lockerby, Sean McBride, Nikolay Nachev, Nicole Navitsky, Mark Pecoraro, Adam Sacks, Thomas Sebastian Smolenski  and Zartosht Soltani; Audio/Music/Sound Designer  David Wilson with additional sound design by  Nathan Manley; Editor Dan Rosen and Assistant Editor Stacey Burgay; and a Tutorial Video Crew including DP  Ed David, Sound Mixer Kristian Boryservicz, Assistant Camera Albert Oh, Gaffer Huttenberg Nassar, Teleprompter Artisan NY , Wardrobe Stylist and Makeup Artist  Sue Crystal.

Flickerlab utilized Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver; Apple Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor; Binary Nights Forklift FTP; Gtech Graid Firewire Drives; LaCie Rugged Firewire Drives; iMac Intel Core Duo Computers; PowerMac G5 Computers; MacPro Intel Computers; Apple Display 20" and 23" Monitors; Dell 23" Flat Panel Display; Apple Xserve, Xraid and Xsan; Wacom Cintiq/Intuos 3 tablets in the execution of this project.  

FlickerLab filmed live-action footage at Globus Brothers Studios (New York, NY).  

FlickerLab worked closely with Smarterville, Inc./Hooked on Phonics (Baltimore, MD) Senior Director of Product Development Russell Ginns and Children's Product Producer/Senior Producer  Christopher Medellin. 

Learn to Read, Hooked on Phonics' premiere reading program, teaches children the pillars of reading " sound combinations, short and complex vowels, and simple sight words " while fostering a life-long love of reading and helping to build a child's self esteem. The fundamental approach and process for the new reading product is the same as the original research-based Hooked on Phonics product. The new Learn to Read product enhances the lessons through new storybooks by award-winning authors, Visual Phonics , songs and videos. 

The web-exclusive, introductory offer became available through www.hookedonphonics.com July 14, and will be sold at select locations, including Target, beginning in August. 

About Hooked on Phonics

Hooked on Phonics, operated by Smarterville Inc. (Baltimore, MD), is a leading creator of research-based educational and reading products that are fun, easy to use, and effective. The company works with professional educators, interactive designers, writers, artists, and parents to develop step-by-step learning systems that help teach children critical reading, math, and study skills. Since the company was founded in 1987, more than two million families and thousands of schools have turned to Hooked on Phonics' library of award-winning programs. Hooked on Phonics products such as Learn to Read, Master Reader and Hooked on Math are available at major retailers and online at www.hookedonphonics.com.  

About FlickerLab   

FlickerLab is a triple bottom line creative services and animation company that has produced thousands of hours of animated, live action and mixed media content worldwide for film, broadcast and cross platform distribution. FlickerLab is committed to using that experience, and its proprietary animation and content creation toolsets, towards producing socially and environmentally conscious media and building sustainable media brands, with a focus on educational material. 

Recent FlickerLab projects include an upcoming animated educational series focusing on teaching middle school students about climate change, an animated campaign for Al Gore's Repower America, creating a destination website and animated online series for Ritz Crackers, two animated pilots for Playhouse Disney,  two animated pilots for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, a highly successful viral short for Planned Parenthood, a series of live-action and animated DVDs for Hooked on Phonics, award winning animated PSA campaigns for the American Heart Association and Comedy Central, the award winning AMC Monsterfest network branding, animation and graphics for the last three Michael Moore films, a weekly online animated show for Sports Illustrated, creating and producing the animated web series This Modern World, among many others. 

The company's portfolio also includes high profile work for media and entertainment companies including A&E Networks, Bravo, Discovery Home, Disney Channel, Lifetime, Lions Gate Productions, MTV, Nickelodeon, Planned Parenthood, The Cartoon Network and The WB, and product/service companies including Bassat Ogilvy, Continental Airlines, Grey Worldwide, Johnson & Johnson, McCann Erickson, Microsoft, and Procter & Gamble, among many others. 

FlickerLab is headquartered at 7 West 18th Street, 4th floor, New York NY 10011 and has offices in Copenhagen. For additional information contact Tammy Walters at (212) 560-9228. 

Credit Sheet: 
Airdate: The web-exclusive, introductory offer became available through www.hookedonphonics.com July 14, and will be sold at select locations, including Target, beginning in August. 

Release: National/International

Product: Hooked on Phonics flagship product, Learn to Read - 9 DVD's for levels Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade.

Title: Learn to Read

Length: nine 1-1.5 hour each (13 hours of animation) 

Description:  FlickerLab created 13 hours of animation for these  DVD's which  are part of the Hooked On Phonics Super Activity Kits, targeted to preschoolers and first and second graders  and include both live-action and animated segments. 

Client: Smarterville, Inc./Hooked on Phonics 

City/State: Baltimore, MD

Senior Director of Product Development: Russell Ginns

Children's Product Producer/Senior Producer: Christopher Medellin

Production Company: FlickerLab

City/State: New York, NY

Creative Director: Harold Moss

Executive Producer: Tammy Walters

Co-Executive Producer: Franklin S. Zitter

Associate Producer: Kea Kelly Alcock

Lead Visual Phonics Text Designer and Animator: Bryan Cox

Designers/Animators/Compositors: Simon Ampel, Vanessa Appleby, Nick Bertonazzi, Thomas Bone, Chia Hui Hou, Bryan Cox, Dan Forgione, Alisa Harris, Andrew Kaiko, Philip Lockerby, Sean McBride, Nikolay Nachev, Nicole Navitsky, Mark Pecoraro, Adam Sacks, Thomas Sebastian Smolenski  and Zartosht Soltani

Audio/Music/Sound Designer:  David Wilson

Additional Sound Design: Nathan Manley

Editor: Dan Rosen

Assistant Editor: Stacey Burgay

Director of Photography: Ed David

Sound Mixer: Kristian Boryservicz

Assistant Camera: Albert Oh

Gaffer: Huttenberg Nassar

Wardrobe Stylist and Makeup Artist: Sue Crystal.

Hardware/Software:

Adobe " After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver

Apple " Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor

Binary Nights " Forklift FTP

Gtech Graid Firewire Drives

LaCie Rugged Firewire Drives

iMac Intel Core Duo Computers

PowerMac G5 Computers

MacPro Intel Computers

Apple Display 20" and 23" Monitors

Dell 23" flat panel display

Apple Xserve, Xraid, Xsan

Wacom " Cintiq / Intuos 3 tablets

Location of live-action Shoot:  Globus Brothers Studios

City/State: New York, NY

Teleprompter: Artisan NY (New York, NY)

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