bookmark_borderStop Animation with TinkerQube

Last week I held a workshop with new friend and collaborator Karsten Juncher for members of The CLRG (Creative Learning Research Group) at DOKK1 library. The workshop explored stop animation as a form of tinkering, with special focus on videography and set design; enabled by Karsten’s TinkerQube “spatial furniture.” TinkerQube is a wooden wireframe cube Karsten designed to more easily bring crafting and tinkering activities into 3D space.

The cubes worked really well for this workshop, like stage rigging you’d have in a theater or on a film set – but in miniature. The cube was used to hold clamp lights, to hold backdrops, and support suspended stage elements and flying characters.

The CLRG is small group of librarians and researchers that explore ways to bring tinkering into the library context. The Aarhus main library, DOKK1, is the largest library in Scandinavia and has a reputation for expanding the definition of what a library can be, so they’re a good group to prototype with.

This workshop had the aims of provoking new thoughts within the CLRG, testing out stop animation as a TinkerCube activity, and getting the librarians’ feedback on the cube as a platform for other tinkering activities at the library.

Karsten and I designed the workshop to balance narrative play with technical explorations of stop animation camera movement. The cube lowers the floor substantially for new stop-animators to do panning and zooming shots – cameras can be attached to the stage, and moved incrementally to create smooth camera movements when the animation is played back.

Librarians from The CLRG building an underwater scene

Workshop participants used the cube in different ways, some filming from up above in the case of a Pacman inspired scene, and some filming from the side “audience view.” One group put their cube down on the floor to have better access to lighting their stage from above. Another group suspended a character from above, using multiple strings for better movement control.

You can find more about the TinkerQube at

Pictures by Karsten Juncher and Liam Nilsen

bookmark_borderCommunicating Creative Potential

Communicating meta-creativity

Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum spent months putting together the video used in the initial Kickstarter campaign. They used nine different examples to communicate the range of possibilities – but nonetheless, countless people would buy a Makey Makey, build a banana piano, and get stuck. They wouldn’t know where to go next.

The power of Makey Makey is in the possibilities it opens up to create new things, so our communications focused on user-generated content over in-house content. Showcasing what users were doing carried the embedded message that non-experts could do amazing things using the tool. When deciding what to share, the guiding principle was to illustrate the low floor (easy to get started), the high ceiling (potential for complexity), and wide walls (breadth of possibilities at each level of complexity) of creating with Makey Makey.1

To cultivate higher ceilings and wider walls, we sponsored power-users with additional Makey Makeys and amplified their projects in our newsletter and on social media. Some of my favorite wide wall/high ceiling projects include : Planet LickerClassic Games controller showcase Assistive technology like thisThe Nairobi Play project, and Underground Sound, just to name a few.

Makey Makey Labz

Together with CWIST I lead the development of a platform for sharing project guides. The platform was pre-populated with existing project guides and few new ones I made for the launch. The guides came with common core and NGSS standards to help teachers use these projects in their classrooms.

I made a small series of onboarding emails that sent small sets of progressively complex project guides to the people who purchased a Makey Makey through the website.

Together with then education VP Tom Heck, I established a network of Makey Makey Teacher Ambassadors to generate content for the Makey Makey Labz platform. Here you can see a video I produced for the network.

CWIST was acquired and retired by Google in 2018. The Makey Makey Labz content was moved over to Instructables by Makey Makey’s Colleen Graves, who also made a bunch of improvements. You can see that platform here.

bookmark_borderThe Domain Question

After dragging my feet for a couple of years, I’m finally back to maintaining a personal website. A central place for all my multi-media.

Wondering what my site looks like in a google result page, I searched “Liam Media” to see what would come up. The first result is a YouTube channel containing some very homemade animations about bunnies. The second result is another YouTube channel, this one giving advice on setting up a business in Uganda. At #3 there’s a Facebook page for a Miami based production agency without a portfolio, and then right there at #4, this website:

Feels like I’m in good company.