Our website uses cookies. See our cookies page for information about them and how you can remove or block them. Click here to opt in to our cookies

Safeguarding Online Practices: Little Animation Studio

Around the world, lockdown measures to confront the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in organisations moving their activities online.

Delivering work using digital tools, livestreaming events, and providing online workshops all require additional consideration for best practice, processes and policies, especially in relation to child protection and working with vulnerable adults.

In part one of our series on safeguarding online practices, we speak to Simon Bishopp and Katja Frimberger of Little Animation Studio.

Tell us about your virtual project activity with participants

Our digital animation project 'Little Animation Studio' is using adapted digital technologies to enable children with differing needs to create a fully animated short film. Our animation education programme has now entirely moved online.

We have created video and animation-based teaching materials and online, interactive tasks, with accompanying teachers' notes, that guide children and their teachers through the whole animation production process - from scriptwriting to character creation - voice recording and animation - and allows us to support them through FaceTime and email.

What have you put in place to ensure online safeguarding for those you are working with?

The videos and interactive tasks in our online programme are password protected and only accessible through private video links by our collaborating teacher. The accompanying teachers' notes for all sessions give clear guidance on the overall learning section/individual video learning objectives, how to use them with the children, and any additional resources required. We found it really important to create materials that help our partners to get the most out of our project, while not increasing their workload and allowing for children's maximum enjoyment.

What have the challenges been and what have you learnt?

(Right: Anim8, robot presenter of Little Animation Studio learning videos)

Anim8 the robot Robot Anim8 who presents the Little Animation Studio learning videosOur project animator Simon is immune-compromised and had to self-isolate early, our partner school had to close to outside visitors, and the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, which planned to exhibit the children's animation, had to cease service (and currently also social media activity) due to COVID-19.

We learnt that the trusted relationships that we built with our project partners, in particular the participating teachers at Harmeny Education Trust, were absolutely key in being able to continue our project.

The children who live onsite at the school and teachers were keen to continue despite lockdown and because of their commitment to the project, we were able to adapt and 'animate on'.

What is working well about working online? Are there any surprising benefits?

Right from the start of the project, we were impressed with the children's digital literacy and their ability to adapt quickly to new technology, for example, when they led themselves on a trial voice recording session. They enjoy the online videos and were surprisingly relaxed interacting with us via FaceTime during sessions, even those children who we actually had not yet met face-to-face.

Working online has allowed the teachers and ourselves to work at the children's pace, completing smaller sections over multiple days in the week, and receiving the material the children create for their film via email over several days rather than working in somewhat pressured time slots once a week.

How are participants benefiting from taking part in arts activity at this difficult time?

It is important that the children's creative collaboration and the effort and investment that they have put into each stage of the animation creation process is honoured by us.

We have all learnt about the power of mutuality - the children just as much as ourselves. With our combined efforts and ingenuity, creatively and organisationally, we are creating something together that is meaningful and beautiful to us - even when times are tough and quite dark.

What tips would you give to other creatives moving to working with participants online?

Creatives are generally sensitive communicators, masters at building relationships and adept at thinking outside the box. These key values - given resources are available and bills can be paid - will get creatives through. Something we found very helpful was to imagine how working online might take place in an ideal world using technology. We'd write that out and then hunt around for apps that could be repurposed to allow us to do this.

A small example is that we need the children to perform the voices of the characters in their film. We found a professional quality sound recording app that they can download onto the class iPhone, created an instruction video on how to make a pop filter for the phone's microphone, and this week they will email that recording to us to be incorporated into the film.

Follow along with what Little Animation Studio is getting up to over on Twitter

This article was published on 19 May 2020