Our Friday column asks our members about their favorite tool, software, article of clothing, shoes on set, favorite scriptwriting software, etc.
Kristin Reiber Harris – Artist, Animator, and Educator
By Katie Chambers
NYWIFT Member Kristin Reiber Harris is an artist, animator and educator with a passion for sharing the treasures and insights of the natural world. During her 30 year career she has created over 100 educational animated shorts. Her interstitials have been broadcast on HBO Family and HBO Latino and her films have been screened in film festival all over the country. Her latest film is CityBIRDS, about finding friends when you move. In addition to teaching and creating animation for children and families, Kristin provides animation workshops to help students learn to animate their own experiences in nature.
She’s currently in production on the animated short CityTREES and NatureNuggets, educational resources to accompany her Anim8Nature series of short films.
Kristin shared with us what’s in her animation toolkit, and how she’s staying centered while sheltering in place during COVID-19.
What’s the number one tool you need while animating?
My number 1A tool as an artist and animator is my ability to be observant and appreciate what I see, especially in the natural world. When I am teaching kids how to animate, I always start the workshop with this question; what does to animate mean? To animate is to bring to life. So the ability to appreciate how things move and express their aliveness is my number one tool.
My number 1B tool is a pencil and notebook for drawing. Like all artists, I have notebooks to write and draw my ideas as I am conceptualizing and storyboarding. I love working with a mechanical pencil and even have a favorite one of those.
Favorite snack to stay nourished while working?
My favorite snack in roasted unsalted almonds. Trader Joe’s are the best.
What is your personal mantra / words to live by?
I am a huge fan of LaoTzu (500BCE) and the concept of ancient knowledge. I read his teachings every day and find solace in such ideas as, “Take joy in the work and service that comes to you,” “simply be aware of the ones of things,” and “take time to listen to what is said without words.” (Hua Hu Ching, translated by Brian Walker)
What is an app or tech item you cannot live without?
AfterEffects (AE) and Procreate. I have worked with AE for over 25 years and still feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what it can do. I have a particular style of collage animation I have developed over the years that works well with AE. I became an animator to make my art move in the 90’s when it was possible for small studios to purchase the hardware/software to do it. Procreate is a relatively new app and I use it for most of the artwork I am animating these days. It’s a fabulous tool that facilitates great flexibility and experimentation. I recommend it very highly if you have an iPad Pro and an Apple pencil.
How are you staying calm and centered during the current COVID-19 crisis?
I have walked or biked regularly every afternoon for last 40 years. I live in a part of Brooklyn where it is relatively easy to social distance and get to parks. I am out frequently for two hours a day. I have loved being outside since I was a small child. My mother has an entry in my baby book about me as a toddler standing at the front door waiting to be let out. Bless her, she let me out carefully noting she was watching from the window. It was a different world then. No one would let a two-year-old outside alone these days.
What’s your favorite movie or series you watched recently and why?
I just watched Devil at the Crossroads, A Robert Johnson Story on Netflix. I am a huge fan of the blues, especially the tradition coming from the Delta region. Blues is my music genre of choice and I certainly knew about Robert Johnson but I am learning a lot more. What makes this documentary especially memorable for me is the very effective use of animation in the storytelling. The animation is very stark black & white and fills in details of the story that can’t be conveyed in old photos or talking heads.
Watch Kristin’s latest project:
We recently interviewed Kristin, along with animator Carrie Hawks, on the NYWIFT Women Crush Wednesday’s podcast. Listen in:
Great ideas, even when plentiful, can have a short shelf life when confronted with sobering realities. But NYWIFT Michele Remsen knows how to persevere. As co-star, producer, director, and screenwriter of an anti-romantic comedy that defies expectations, Michele was the force that made it happen: in 12 days, on a shoestring budget.READ MORE
As a director and producer, NYWIFT board member Kathryn O'Kane is a planner and she's used to solving problems. The biggest challenge she's finding during the COVID-19 crisis is that there’s not enough information to be able to plan. She attended the NYWIFT “Mental Health and Career Sustainability in the Doc World” panel because to learn how producers can come to terms with that and how to relax into the uncertainty of the moment when it goes against our nature. She offers her top takeaways.READ MORE