For as long as Olivia Porretta can remember, she’s loved animation.
“You can make a character very simple, but still get a powerful emotional response,” the Staples High School junior explains. “People can connect to just 2 eyes and 1 mouth — it’s a universal face.”
She also likes the fact that animation is done completely by hand. Every frame is created by a real person.
In 5th grade at Saugatuck Elementary School, Olivia designed storyboards for a made-up character — without even knowing what storyboards were. Her younger brother liked them, so she did more.
At Staples, Olivia honed her illustrating and writing skills in the Animation Club. Using Cintiq — an interactive pen device similar to a big iPad — and programs like Photoshop and TVPaint — her passion grew.
Except for a summer session at New York’s School of Visual Arts, Olivia is self-taught. She’s also a self-starter.
When she met Kimson Albert — a noted animator — she showed him her work. Last year, he invited her to join the Amaze Project. That’s a fun, engaging video series teaching tweens and teens about health and safety, including sexuality, gender identity, relationships, friendships and puberty.
Each short film is written, designed, animated and produced by different people. Olivia was hired — and paid — for a video about online safety.
“I wanted kids to be empowered, not scared, by information,” she says. So her animation delivers its message in the voice of a child. Staples students Chloe Adda and Jake Watzman provided 2 of the voices. Olivia also added her own.
It took several hours each night — for many weeks — for Olivia to complete her 4-minute film. It was released last month. Reaction has been great. Click on the video below, to see for yourself:
Soon, Olivia will be back at work, creating new animations. Meanwhile, she’s enjoying Staples — especially (of course) her English elective class.
It’s called Visual Literacy.
(Hat tip: Sean McGee)