Cranking the world’s largest flipbooks in DUMBO

June 11, 2019 Mary Frost
Beam Center fellows and lunchtime passersby cranked two giant flipbooks and admired the animations during FlipNYC’s grand opening in DUMBO on Thursday. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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The lunchtime crowd in DUMBO took turns cranking two giant, solar-powered flipbooks installed at DUMBO’s Pearl Street Triangle on Thursday.

As the pages flipped, the individual drawings merged into an animated image, delighting participants.

The whimsical mechanisms, called FlipNYC, were put together by high school-aged youth fellows at Beam Center, who worked with younger kids as part of the process. They were designed by Chee-Kit Lai of Mobile Studios/London, who submitted the idea to Beam’s international competition.

“There are about 100 frames in there, and when you crank them, you see an animation,” Lai told the Brooklyn Eagle. “At night, when you crank them, the boxes turn from mirror finish to transparent. You should be able to see all the mechanisms inside.”

The flip books feature the illustrations of Ebony Bolt, which were copied onto the frames by numerous young illustrators.

During the collaboration, the kids learned skills in fabrication, metalwork, design and more, a hallmark of Beam Center, which has programs in NYC public schools, a center in Red Hook, and a camp in Strafford, New Hampshire.

The fellows range from ages 16-18, juniors and seniors at five high schools in Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan, Danny Kahn, co-founder of Beam and chairperson of its board, told the Eagle.

Beam Center fellows and staffers pose in front of one of their giant flipbooks on display in DUMBO. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Beam Center fellows and staffers pose in front of one of their giant flipbooks on display in DUMBO. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Kahn said the students applied to be in the program. “Many were in apprentice programs in schools or had come to our summer camp.”

“The kids picked the drawings, they picked the artists, they built the boxes and they made everything about it,” said Holly Halvarson, an avid supporter since her children attended the program.

The project fellows include: Katia Beegan, Valery Cuellar, Eli Harrell, Natasha Moore, Candace Nelson, Darwin Pichardo, Diego Romero, Ethan Rothschild, Christal Jean-Soverall, Lucas Stettner, Dyani Woodson, Jade Ziyi Zhao Project Leaders: Mitchell Dose, Cassie Broadus-Foote and Philip Gabbana.

The flipbooks will be on display and available for cranking all summer.

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