Julia Griffey, Class of 2005

Dancer, educator, entrepreneur, machine embroiderer, mother of three, and sustainable housing enthusiast

Advice to incoming students: Produce, reflect, write, produce, reflect, write, produce, reflect, write, and pursue only projects that speak to you.

After graduating from the Dynamic Media Institute, Julia Griffey did what most students only dream of — developed her thesis into a successful business model. Animocation delivers interactive games that encourage learning through movement, socialization, and play. In Julia’s world the experiences of barn owls, giaraffes, and flamencos are transformed into engaging educational games that users navigate with their bodies. Animocation’s work has been exhibited across the country at places like the Amelia Park Children’s Museum in Westfield, Massachusetts, the Santa Maria Discovery Museum in Santa Maria, California, and the Winston-Salem Children’s Museum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Motion was nothing new to Julia. As an undergraduate student at the University of California at Berkeley studying Civil Engineering, Julia was heavily involved in Modern Dance and its influence began to trickle into her graduate work. “After my first year at DMI,” Julia said, “I knew I wanted to do a project that integrated human movement and interactive media. I was also interested in traditional animation and expanding my skills in this area. I toyed around with a lot of serious ideas like developing a movement analysis tool. Then I discovered Dance, Dance, Revolution and that changed everything for me. I allowed myself to focus on something that was fun and this allowed me to integrate the animation component.”

Although this enthusiasm propelled her to create an engaging, original body of work, it did not come without a spectacular effort. “I really credit the faculty at DMI for making me dig, dig, dig and evolve my ideas. I knew that animation could be a great teaching tool. I also knew that movement-driven interactive experiences were fun and engaging. So why not create an interactive, movement-driven experience that was educational?”

Education lured Julia into the DMI program. While she was looking forward to pushing her thinking as a designer, she mostly wanted an MFA to pursue teaching opportunities. It just so happened that while working on her thesis she was teaching full-time in the department of Interactive Media at the New England Institute of Art. And currently, Julia is a full-time tenure-track Assistant Professor in Interactive Media at Webster University in St. Louis.

Her passion for education and animation was something not easily given up, “My thesis was a project I was deeply invested in for three years. After I graduated I couldn’t just abandon the idea.” While teaching and her family take up most of her time, Julia continues to produce pieces for children’s museums and sees plenty of potential to develop the business.

She is an active member of the Association of Children’s Museums and the Association of Science and Technology Centers. Animocation is a work in progress and Julia has plans to expand the experiences, content, and technology currently in use. The desire to continue pushing her professional life as an educator and business owner is summed up best by her graduate school experience, “DMI encouraged me to think bigger, experiment more, and let the solution evolve.”

Written by Dennis Ludvino

Julia Griffey on www.dynamicmediainstitute.org

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