Flippies: Old Media Braves New World

NEW YORK Flippies, a maker of custom flip books, has created a virtual Museum of Flip Animation on Second Life as part of a promotional campaign to revive the pre-cinema devices in real life.

The two-story online venue houses interactive exhibits reintroducing modern audiences to pre-cinema techniques and gizmos, including zoetropes and thaumatropes. Users can also click on their choice of a simulated flip book, suggesting the late 19th century invention that gives an optical illusion of motion when images arrayed in a progression of pages are flipped.

The museum also offers an idea center “to prompt marketers to see how flip books can work to fit into their plans,” said Flippies president Jeffrey Kay.

“Simplicity is in,” said Kay.

At least that’s what he said he’s hearing from clients like Nickelodeon, MTV, Barry Manilow, Advance Auto Parts and Starz Entertainment.

Another client, National Geographic Films, commissioned Flippies to produce a special flip book announcing its expanded stock film library, said Suzanne Lang, director of production at Bluesky. The promotional brochures were sent in September to prospective stock film clients.

Among other sequences, the branded flip books portray a dolphin leaping out of the water. “They showed each [movement] frame by frame so you could see the action come to fruition,” said Lang. “It portrayed a movie.”

According to Kay, his Mount Kisco, N.Y., company “flip animated” the National Geographic Films’ stock footage using proprietary technology.

Currently, Flippies is applying the technique to a segment of an upcoming children’s movie as well as to a commercial clip, to mention two custom applications in development.

The low-tech, low-fuss marketing tool is fast, cheap and easy to control. “Flip books start at 30 cents apiece, said Kay, noting that they “provide marketers a way to deliver full-motion imagery without a computer terminal or batteries.”

And flip books’ retro quality is being credited with their social appeal. “There’s a tremendous viral component,” said Kay. “The younger generation hasn’t seen a flip book before, and a Gen X-er might have seen it, but not in a long time, so they like to pass it along and show their friends,” he said.

“All of the technology that evolved and trumped flip books has ironically helped promote the flip book,” continued Kay.

“Flip books were left for dead years ago,” he said. “We’re reinventing them for the modern-day marketer.”