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KS Kapālama seniors Maile Hoe, Nova Sonomura and Kieren McKeeand other KSK haumāna participated in a virtual story creation workshop called Story Xperiential.

KS Kāpalama seniors win award from Story Xperiential

March 30, 2022

Three aspiring animators – KS Kapālama seniors Maile Hoe, Kieren McKee and Nova Sonomura – and other KS students participated in the first-ever Story Xperiential with Pixar workshop presented by X in a Box, LLC (XIAB). The hands-on storytelling and technology program was piloted at select schools to include creative youth who have been historically under-represented in the tech industry.

Dubbed The Dream Team, the trio’s submission titled “Yearbook Memories” was one of three People’s Choice Award winners chosen from a field of over 100 story reels  by the votes of their Story Xperiential workshop peers.

The nine-week, online storytelling program was developed by the three founders of X in a Box, the same team that produced Pixar in a Box while working at Pixar and Khan Academy. Each week’s live session featured a guest Pixar story artist who shared their unique paths to joining Pixar, along with industry tips for creating original and compelling stories. Students were then invited to submit, individually or as a team, original work for friendly and constructive feedback from both XIAB professionals as well as their Story Xperiential workshop peers.

The Dream Team completed all of the work independently, collaborating over Zoom meetings outside of school hours to prepare each submission. They found it a valuable and unique experience.

“I always liked to draw, so I tended to do what I do well in the same way in school, but the workshop pushed me to try new things.” McKee said. “Animation always seemed like it would be hard and I wasn’t sure I could do it, but working as a team, I found that I could do it, too. This workshop has encouraged me to keep learning more about animation in college.”

Sonomura added that the workshop was different from school, where he’s used to asking a kumu for help, the moment he’s unsure what to do. “This was more like a real job, where we got assignments that we had to figure out how to do on our own. We had to call our own meetings and we’d sometimes forget that we were supposed to meet to work together, and would end up rushing to complete work, right before the deadline. We had to learn about time management to get things done well and on time.

“The Pixar pros shared their stories with us and the absolutely hilarious submissions from the other groups. Hurray for not living in a vacuum! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed getting and giving feedback – it was a blast!”

Sonomura  has some advice for other students considering Story Xperiential. “You don’t need to be an artist to do Xperiential. If your art sucks, but your story is good, it’s great. If your art is amazing, but your story is absolute trash, it’s a heap of garbage. Story comes first, and art comes – actually, art doesn’t even come second. Second is probably music, third is sound design. Art’s actually the least important part.

“Be clear, be deliberate, listen to feedback, give good feedback, double check your videos before submitting, etc. etc. And, I know the program teaches storytelling, but do not under any circumstances ‘tell’ your story. Anyone can tell a story – anyone can speak it. Don’t. Make us feel your story. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so I don’t need you to explain over them. It’s like a PowerPoint slide that has all of the information on it – I don’t need you to read at me – I have eyes. Let your art stand by itself.”

Sonomura’s aloha and love of sharing feedback with peers, along with his clear understanding of what’s needed in a captivating story, so impressed the workshop organizers that he was specially recruited to serve in a newly created internship program as a Story Xperiential Alumni Community manager!

Pam Darrow, XIAB Project manager, noted that throughout the duration of the workshop, Sonomura gave many of his peers inspirational feedback. “His excitement about all aspects of Story Xperiential and his insightful ideas for enhancing the program are a true delight, and make us very excited to grow Story Xperiential to reach many more students.” Darrow said Sonomura “is tasked with brainstorming ways to improve platform functionality, cross-participant communication, mentor participants during the program and provide feedback on participant submissions.”

Story Xperiential participants:
Let’s also give a shoutout to the other KS Warriors who successfully completed Story XPeriential in Fall 2021:

Paul Kihei Dulan (KSK ’22)
Ahelani Higa (KSK ’25) 
Paris Kekua (KSK ’24) who garnered the “Story Xperiential special prize for Excellence in Feedback”
Cayden Park (KSK ’25)
Amber Kauinui (KSK ’25)
Kahiau Martinez (KSK ’25)
Naleo Kelley (KSK ’25)

A sample drawing by KS Kapālama senior Maile Hoe submitted as part of the X in a Box’s Story Xperiential workshop.

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