Award-winning children's author Alex McCall has been turned into an avatar to deliver events in place of those cancelled as a result of Covid-19.
Earlier in the year, the University of Aberdeen was successful in a funding bid from the Scottish Book Trust (November 16-22) to create micro-tutorials which would help children develop their fiction writing skills.
But Covid-19 but paid to the staging of events and the Aberdeen local lockdown during the summer prevented filming for an online alternative.
So the University’s Collections team got creative and turned to Zee Allison, who usually manages the University’s Toolkit, to redeploy her animation skills.
Using photographs of Alex, author of Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens and Revenge of the Giant Robot Chickens, she created an avatar to deliver the tutorials in an interactive way. Alex then provided a voice-over setting out steps and activities to help children improve their creative writing skills – and inviting them to put these to use in the University’s Flash Fiction competition.
Alex McCall said seeing his own avatar was a unique experience. “I was worried about what my avatar looks like but thankfully it looks far better than me!” he added.
“I had a great time working on the series and can't wait to watch the full thing. Everything I've seen so far has been amazing.”
Zee said:“This has been a hugely enjoyable project, and animating ‘Alex’ was an interesting process – we used innovative new animation software to bring the world to life, which has been very exciting and allowed us to explore new ideas.”
Jennifer Shaw, Assistant Curator at the University’s Museums and Special Collections, added: “These have certainly been difficult times in which to deliver events and activities for us, but this project has shown how it can be possible to work around obstacles and come out with an even better project than was initially envisaged.
“This has been made possible by funding from the Scottish Book Trust and by the good will and incredibly talented and innovative work of Alex McCall and Zee Allison.
“We hope children will enjoy our micro animations, have a go at writing and maybe even take part in our Flash Fiction competition.”
The final animations will be launched on the University of Aberdeen’s Collections Book Week Scotland Activity Page https://www.abdn.ac.uk/museums/events/UoABookWeekScotland.php and You Tube Channel on November 16 when the Book Week Celebrations begin.