Category Archives: Synopsis

Project Identity @ MCCA at West Port High School, Ocala, FL

Carnival in the New World…
Brazilian native and animation extraordinaire Ms. Karin Gunn delivered an exceptional group of animators to PI this week as the collaboration made its way to the gator state. West Port High School, home of the wolf pack hosts the Marion County Center for the Arts (MCCA), a magnet program offering classes in Digital Media, Animation, Photography (which includes photo manipulation), Technical theatre/stagecraft, Dance, Musical Theatre, Drawing and Painting, 3D sculpture, and Band. By no surprise, the MCCA was recently designated as a Florida Department of Education Arts Achieve! Model School.

Its clear why the MCCA is worthy of such an award, as was evident by the high quality of work and teaching that was abundant during PI’s brief residency in Ocala. These students and their faculty are focused and they know how to deliver. Some of the most sincere videos for PI came directly from Ms. Gunn’s class of motivated, thoughtful animators who effectively know how to express themselves through the duration of time. This visual team at MCCA is well-rounded as Ms. Gunn’s extended abilities couple both animation and photography, the dynamic 3-dimensional doings of Ms. Brauhn and Mrs. Lovill’s mastery of teaching, was evident throughout the students work.
Ocala is a derivation of the Timucua word “Ocali” which is believed to mean the “Kingdom of the Sun.” Regardless of the lack of heat from the sun during Professor Barany’s visit, the warmth of several new friendships and connections that blossomed during the Ocala residency will soon not be forgotten. Thank you especially to Ms. Gunn and Ms. Brauhn for their hospitality and professionalism, and also to the phenomenal animators from West Port High! Keep drawing those bubbles!
From deep within the wolf pack,

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations

Project Identity @ Community High School, Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee, WI

Imbedded within a larger community…
Community High Schools focus on social justice, service learning, collaboration and the development of future leaders within their own program resonated throughout my entire visit. These core CHS values integrate seamlessly into the fundamental structure of Project Identity, and the dedicated students of this MPS charter didn’t fail to deliver. This might have been PI’s youngest and smallest group thus far, but they animated with focus and passion.
Surrounded by several varieties of fish, snakes and reptiles, PI survived its short stay at CHS as we turned their animal lab into an animation studio. Only in its fourth year this faculty led school might not have an imbedded administrative branch, but this had no affect on the developing sense of community and responsibility that thrives there. The students I worked with are proof of the professionalism that permeates within the student body of Community High’s 175.

A sincere thank you to Visual Arts Faculty Roxanne Mayeur (CEI alumna) for organizing and leading this fine group of devoted, life-long learners into the fabric of Project Identity.

On, in and from Wisconsin,

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations

Project Identity: Our Journey in Motion

4,139 miles and counting...

Project Identity’s odometer is spinning like a whirlygig mounted on the windy planes of a Kansas field. As PI pushes toward the five thousand mile mark, a few milestones have already occurred – such as the 210 participating students, 65 portfolio reviews and the production of almost 5 minutes of rotoscoped animation! Professor Barany was also able to present about the structure and doings of Project Identity this past week at the Wisconsin Education Association Council conference in Milwaukee, WI. After the PI presentation, yet another program jumped onboard from Johnson Creek, WI. This now puts the new number up to a total of 19 participating programs across 12 states.
words.jpgThis image was generated by algorithms designed to pull text and words from the entire blog and look for their frequency and hidden patterns. A little photoshop application helps to translate this raw data into an interesting image. Combined elements, the text and imagery visually encapsulate our combined efforts during the first two months.

Presto! Here is what so many of you have asked to see, a test clip from some of our rotoscoped animation done over the last two months. I promise to add more of these in the future, but please bear in mind, that these are just clips – not yet woven into the final work and they WILL BE ALTERED. Sorry the resolution is being kept at a minimal level, this is being done so that others can’t easily copy or manipulate our work from the world wide web; it’s truly all crystal clear back in the studio.
Lastly, here is a video hybrid of the many artists who have participated thus far on the project. Some imbedded audio elements are included from the Geography of Self writing prompt that was authored by David Martin, and helped to start the whole process. Thanks again for all of your intelligent, honest, hard work that easily adds up to hundreds of hours invested into the collaboration; your efforts are rapdily starting to show.

In continuum,

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations

Project Identity @ Randolph Upper School, Huntsville, AL

3, 2, 1, 0, Blast off…
This week Project Identity journeyed south under the stars to Randolph Upper School located in historic Huntsville, Alabama. Randolph is located in a beautiful city which can boast the preservation of several antebellum homes that were spared during the conflict of the Civil War. Additionally, this community has been a stronghold for the production of U.S. missile defense, rockets and space age technology. Huntsville is full of History, and PI made history this week at Randolph too, as the assigned class which collaborated on the project was our first group of film students!
With the guidance of Drama & Film faculty Mrs. Connie Voight, and the coordinating efforts of Visual Arts faculty Mrs. Kimberly Reyes, PI flourished with these focused students from Randolph. Many of these students one minute videos will become imbedded into the final animation of the project, but this group held their own at rotoscoping too. These students reminded me of the passionate group from Kettle Moraine High School in WI, where PI got its start in the early days of September. Quality, not quantity!

Mrs. Reyes and her colleagues are running a fine visual arts program as was evident by the contents of the numerous portfolio’s that I had the pleasure to review during my short stay. I’d also like to thank Mrs. Reyes for allowing me to present to her AP class about MIAD’s dynamic programming, and answering all kinds of questions about who we are and what we do. What’s even more impressive, is the dynamic integration that occurs between the Performing and Visual Arts at Randolph, allowing PI to work with these students for an entire day.

I’d like to thank Mr. & Mrs. Reyes for their genuine hospitality during my visit (Mr. Reyes is also a MIAD alumni – 92′ Drawing), and I’d also like to compliment the entire Randolph program for nurturing and realizing the importance of creativity in their curriculum. Lastly, a sincere Danke! to the students at Randolph, for introducing me to sweet tea!

Where the skies are so blue,

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations

Project Identity @ Zionsville Community High School, Zionsville, IN

Immensity and abundance…
zchsnewkids.jpgZionsville Community High School greeted Project Identity with an entire regiment of eager animators who drew feverishly during PI’s whirlwind tour through Indiana. Founded by the construction of a railway station on the northwestern fringe of Indianapolis lies the quaint village of Zionsville. This charming community hosts the booming 1,600 student population of ZCHS.
Barany works with students from ZCHS in Indiana

Visual Arts Chair Lisa Klaunig and her colleague Mandy Jared help to run an exceptional visual arts program who’s fundamentals delve between the foundations of Fine Art and Design. These amazing ZCHS students fueled PI’s mission of community and collaboration through the immense amount of work they created via the rotoscoping process. These students pounded out hundreds and hundreds of drawings, in just two days time.
Project Identity would like to thank Mrs. Klaunig for her hospitality, and the amazing work ethic that her students resonated throughout the entire residency. Great things are happening in this program, in mass quantity and quality. Lastly, here’s a bit of press from the Indystar about PI’s visit to Zionsville.

From the speedy 500,

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations

Project Identity @ Lawrence High School, Lawrence, KS

Back to the classics…
Lawrence High Schools Visual Arts Instructor Wendy Leet Vertacnik clearly demonstrated how a classically-rooted curriculum, delivered in a focused manner can produce unbelievable bounty within the studio. This laser-like convergence was clearly evident in Mrs. Vertacnik’s devoted teaching, her students disciplined work ethic and visible within the powerful contents of her students portfolio’s.

MIAD should be proud to have such a good relationship with LHS and their substantial visual arts program. These young midwestern artist’s worked voraciously toward achieving excellence in every studio session that I had the pleasure to observe. Lawrence High School is located just beyond the reach of the University of Kansas in a community that was once leveled by fire and the destructive path of the American Civil War; profound national history has been created there.
It was a pleasure engaging Mrs. Veratcnik’s portfolio class into the immense amount of work and drawing required by Project Identity. These students quickly embraced the rotoscoping process and applied their advanced drawing skills producing hundreds of images for the collaboration. LHS and MIAD share several alumni, and I truly hope that our institutions can continue to work in tandem in the future, helping to nurture the young creative passion that dwells in both places.

From where the West began,

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations

Project Identity @ the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts Riverfront (NOCCA), New Orleans, LA

Passion and dedication…
NOCCA’s Visual Arts faculty member Terry DeRoche helped to deliver Project Identity to Louisiana’s Arts Conservatory for High School Students with the same kind of dedication and focus that his students clearly demonstrated. I am still flabbergasted with the focus, ability and motivation of these young artists. They thrive in an environment that fully supports and nurtures their creative passions. Not only do the Visual and Media Arts abound at this jewel of ideation, but you will also find the same level of dedication in Dance, Music (Jazz, Classical, Vocal), Theatre, Creative Writing, Musical Theatre, Technical Theatre and even the Culinary Arts.
Over 100 public, private and parochial schools across Louisiana send students to NOCCA on a half-day basis, or for after-school programming. I found nothing less than a collegiate level of excellence throughout the entire institution and all at the secondary level. Just beyond the French Quarter, a beautifully converted cotton gin serves as the nurturing environment that even the torrents of Katrina couldn’t bring down; and it’s fully equipped to handle all of the students creative needs.
Project Identity was embraced by these young participants, as they gave nothing less than their best effort during our brief time together. Thanks again Mr. Terry! These students from NOCCA clearly demonstrated how effectively working together in a collaborative manner can be.

Merci and au revoir from the quarter,

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations

Project Identity @ Carver Magnet High School, Houston, TX

In the heart of Texas...

The Carver Magnet High School of Applied Technology, Engineering and the Arts mission statement might be obvious from their title, but they animate like thriving professionals from the film industry! I am still in awe of how many students participated and the enthusiasm they brought with them as Project Identity got wings this week and visited CMHS in Houston, Texas.
Visual Arts Chair Ms. McEntire (a Cooper Union alumna) followed through by organizing a fine group of animators and helping to quickly convert several makeshift animating stations for these eager participants, as nothing was going to stop these Texans from animating.
Carvers magnet program is nestled into the metro Houston area, pulling students in from all surrounding communities and passionately assisting them to reach their individual potential and become part of a larger global community – much like Project Identity. I loved the open-air hallways that were surrounded by native palms which joined each of the analogous art studios and truly became a campus within a campus.
Dia de los muertos imagery heavily populates this dynamic environment with a multitude of powerful murals, all of which are heavily influenced by the regional culture, and even a few created by Carver alumni that now attend MIAD.
You can stroll from Carver’s sculpture area past their drawing, painting and digital studios right into a lecture on ancient Greece within a few short steps. It was evident from my residency that diversification, connectivity and integration abound at Carver.
MIAD has a good history with this institution and have had several Carver alumni become MIAD alumni. It is very fitting that Project Identity was able to share some of MIAD’s technology and integrated philosophy with these future artists from Houston, but in all actuality, Carver High School and their fine supporting visual art educators are already doing this. Ms. McEntire and her wonderful team of artists will be sorely missed, thanks for all the hard work and your wonderful hospitality!

Adios from CMHS,

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations

Project Identity @ Kettle Moraine High School, Wales, WI

Let it come down…



Project Identity got a rolling start this week as we moved from MIAD to Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin. Mr. Barder and his supportive staff of visual educators delivered a fine group of driven animators to work with me upon my arrival to KMHS. All of these young men not only submitted videos for the project, but they feverishly rotoscoped during my residency.


We also got to test-drive Joseph Wagner’s (MIAD alumni) fantastic portable animation table that Project Identity commissioned him to make for the adventure. The whole thing folds up neatly and fits into a standard carry-on piece of luggage as Joe knew from the start that we’d be doing a good amount of traveling for this project; into the thousands of miles.



KMHS, Mr. Barder and their Administration should be proud of not only their completely functional facility for the arts, but also, the diversity of art that is explored there. In 25 paces I could walk from the animation lab, through a figure drawing class past the kiln and sculpture areas and land right in-between choir and orchestra! Proximity and diversity empower this fine performing and visual arts curriculum in Wales, Wisconsin.


In continuum,

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations

Project Identity @ MIAD Pre-College 2007

June/July 2007

Phenomenal beginnings!


What a way to begin our adventure as we engaged the profound amount of work that this project will require. Students from numerous states and school districts participated in what promises to be a wonderful collaborative experience. This MIAD pre-college animation course and the animation that they created will serve as the foundation for Project Identity, as next summers class will appropriately become its’ capstone. All of the fieldwork for this collaboration that occurs between these two summer classes will become the body, the matter and the substance of the entire investigation.

The students embraced David Martin’s writing prompts, and from the writing became directed as they began to translate their ideas into personal videos. With the help of my Teaching Assistants (Anne & Ilana) we quickly transposed the files and got the students immerged into the wonderful world of rotoscoping.


Through the duration of our month together this intense group of animators created over 4,500 drawings for the final animation. We also had them independently doing their own work, shooting and editing their own files – encouraging them to become responsible and devoted to their research.Guest artist Jim Cogan blew their minds away with the importance of audio, giving them invaluable techniques in capturing, manipulating and creating supportive music files for the final work.


Finally, on a global level the group made an internet ‘shout-out’ to the collaborative Japanese animation troop known as RinpaEshidan. We broadcast our exquisite corpse animation to them via youtube, and within the week they economically responded back to us: respect.



Bringing it to life,

James B.

James Barany
Associate Professor of Foundations