More than ever firms like FlickerLab, an award-winning e-book, multimedia app developer, and animation studio, are serving as examples of the kind of multimedia developers finding partnerships in the book industry. FlickerLab has partnered with a wide variety of artists and media partners—from filmmaker Michael Moore to PBS Kids—and is currently working with Barnes & Noble to develop enhanced digital picture books for B&N's NookColor and the iPad.
Based in SoHo, in downtown Manhattan, with offices in Copenhagen and Washington, D.C., FlickerLab has created 40 children's enhanced e-books for B&N. The 12-year-old firm specializes in interactive media and animation, often with social or environmental themes. At an interview at the FlickerLab SoHo offices, the company's founder, Harold Moss, showed off rows of designers and animators working on apps and interactive e-book projects. He also discussed the creation of the NookColor enhanced e-books and FlickerLab's commitment to quality material for kids. "We believe in B&N. They've taken a huge leap and made great choices in the e-books they're producing," he said.
"We're focused on making meaningful animated products," Moss explained, pointing to Dr. Carla Seal-Wanner, FlickerLab's director of education and curriculum and a former professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, who has managed to combine a career in producing a wide-range of children's media programming with educational theory and curriculum-building expertise. "We're out to blur the line between formal and informal learning," Seal-Wanner said. "So we're opening up the world to kids in a different way that combines entertainment and learning."
In 2009, FlickerLab merged with Gonzoft, a Danish animation firm, in a deal that has resulted in the development of the Go Real-Time Animation Studio, an innovative animation platform using animated sequences and automated lip-synching to allow a single performer to create a full-length animated program at a much lower production cost. Using that technology, FlickerLab has produced The Nelly Nut Show, a five-day-a-week show on Children's BBC in the U.K., and Moss gave an impromptu performance, complete with multiple cartoon voices, to show how the technology works.
"We've got a production solution that will work across all platforms and tablets," Moss said. Flickerlab's Go Real-Time Animation can be used for e-books and games as well as animated TV. FlickerLab has about a dozen core staffers, but the firm adds freelancers for its projects. "We will be much bigger in six months," Moss said, emphasizing that FlickerLab is looking for more publisher partnerships. "Nonfiction books are crying for this kind of treatment. It is a way to extend their reach," he said.
Citing "the collision of all media formats in the digital era," Moss said, "publishers need to understand both media and technology. There's an enormous opportunity here."