NPCC to host animation camp with L.A.-based artists

Students participate in an animation class taught by experts from Los Angeles earlier this summer. A similar camp will be offered in North Platte July 15-19.

Animation experts from Los Angeles will bring their skills to North Platte next month.

The Business and Community Education department at North Platte Community College will host an animation camp July 15-19 for anyone 12 or older. Just a few openings remain.

The camp, “Animation Playground,” will be led by Erica Larsen-Dockray, founder and director of the Calibraska Arts Initiative. Started in 2013, Calibraska uses creative connections to bring together individuals in California and Nebraska who might not otherwise interact.

The organization provides Nebraskans with access to high-end educational opportunities, mentorship, training and exposure to L.A. creative industries and also allows Los Angeles artists and students to experience Midwestern culture and hospitality.

It’s a cause near and dear to Larsen-Dockray’s heart as she, although now living north of L.A., is originally from Scottsbluff.

“It’s this whole attitude of ‘pay it forward,’” Larsen-Dockray said. “I was that kid who loved animation, but really had no idea what types of animation existed, what careers were available in the field or what opportunities were out there. So, this is really just about giving back to my home state and helping others make that connection to the industry in L.A.”

Larsen-Dockray has a master’s degree in Experimental Animation and Integrated Media from the California Institute of the Arts School of Film and Video. She currently teaches and creates animation in Los Angeles. Larsen-Dockray also serves on the advisory council for the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Jeff Smeltzer, NPCC’s Business and Community Education coordinator, first learned about her and Calibraska while visiting the West Nebraska Arts Center when it was hosting animation camps. He jumped on the opportunity to bring similar training to North Platte.

“NPCC is excited to bring in animation programming of this caliber to our area,” said Smeltzer. “This is an opportunity to transform lives through such an exceptional learning experience and connection to new industries of art making.”

The camp in North Platte will introduce students to the basics of animation.

“They will learn how to make something move the way they want it to move, some history of animation and will also interact with industry experts,” said Larsen-Dockray. “They will do a lot of under camera animation using the same software that is used in big studios.”

Class techniques will include optical toys, flipbooks, clay, sand, scratch and paint on film, pixilation, light animation and more. Students will use a downshooter system to create their own animated short film for a final presentation.

Larsen-Dockray will be assisted by animator Ezra Sky Peterson-Behnen who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The camp will also include a Skype question and answer session with additional L.A. animators.

“We would love to have educators come and learn the process of animation as well as students,” Larsen-Dockray said. “It’s a great entry point into science, history, invention and technology among many other subject areas, and it’s a field that people can get into at any age.”

It’s also a career that is becoming an option in locations outside of big cities.

“A lot of the work I do is virtual,” said Larsen-Dockray. “When I freelance, I just upload my files online, talk in chat rooms and share over the Internet. More avenues are opening up all the time that allow animators to work from almost anywhere in the world — not just L.A.”

Animation Playground is possible thanks to the support of the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, John Russell Applegate funds administered by the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation and the Johnny Carson Foundation.

More information about the camp is available through Smeltzer at 308-535-3687 or

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