HER name was Lola, she was a showgirl... Don’t despair if you’ve never seen Barry Manilow live in concert. A company called Flippies developed a flip book commemorating the Grammy Award winner’s Las Vegas show, entitled Manilow: Music and Passion.
According to a Flippies press release, "with a simple flip of the thumb, the flip book plays an entertaining, full-motion clip of Barry Manilow performing one of his trademark moves on stage." (Readers who don’t believe that Manilow possesses any trademark moves — aside from writing the songs that make the whole world sing — can see him "in action" at the Flippies website, www. flippies.com) Closer to home, Kendra and Mike Gordillo are the owners of Retro Flipbooks, a Winnipeg company that sets up shop at weddings, Christmas parties, etc. and converts digital images of people dancing and making merry into old-fashioned flipbooks.
The Gordillos’ product is so old-fashioned, in fact, that the married couple spends a good chunk of time explaining to potential customers, especially teens and 20-somethings, what a flipbook is, exactly.
"We tell them it’s like what you get from a photo booth, only different," Kendra says. "Instead of a strip of four poses, you get a book of 60 pictures that, when you flip through it really fast, makes it look like everybody in it is moving."
Mike, an MRI technologist, and Kendra, a grade school teacher, got the idea for their home business about 10 months ago, after reading about similar operations in other cities.
"We were always thinking of things we could do together that wouldn’t interfere with our careers," Kendra says. After conducting their research, they turned to each other and said, "Winnipeg totally needs this."
It took the fledgling entrepreneurs about six weeks to track down the necessary software and supplies. After that, they spent a few months practising in their basement, where they shot video of themselves and their two children, ages 3 and five months.
By August, they were ready to make their debut at a golf tournament banquet.
"We were pretty nervous, thinking, ‘What if nobody bothers to stop by?’" Mike says. "But the booth pretty much sold itself. As soon as people saw other people in here laughing and having fun, they came up and asked, ‘So, what’s going on here?’" To answer their question: Subjects perform in front of a white screen using an assortment of provided props and costumes. If anybody is stuck about what to do, Kendra is happy to offer tips. Popping up from below the screen and/or pretending to punch your pal in the noggin are both highly effective, she says.
Kendra records the goings-on from three metres away. When time is up she yells "Cut," then invites everybody over to watch the footage. If people like what they see, Mike prints the images, cuts the photos down to size and binds the lot together in book-form. The entire process takes about two minutes, start to finish.
"Usually, I’ll flip the pages once to show them how it’s done," says Kendra, who came up with a word — flipologist — to describe her own expertise. "But it’s funny; as soon as people figure out how to do it, they can’t stop flipping the rest of the night."
Retro Flipbooks charges around $200 an hour — the event host usually foots the bill — but the final bill can vary depending upon the size of the function. For that price, you get an unlimited number of flipbooks.
Also, if you give the Gordillos enough notice, they can provide a customized cover for each book. For example, if the booking is for a social, a picture of the happy couple would probably work.
Next month, the Gordillos will be a featured exhibitor at the Wonderful Wedding Show at the Convention Centre. Future brides and grooms will be able to try things out for themselves and go home with a free souvenir flipbook.
"We’re already booked for a few weddings next summer," Kendra says, listing birthdays, bar mitzvahs and company picnics among her other 2013 engagements. "One woman who saw something similar to us in Toronto contacted me last month saying she had so much fun at the one there, she had to have us at her wedding here."
Further down the road, Mike is hoping to expand the operation to other cities across Canada.
"That’s our long-term goal, for sure, but our No. 1 priority is making sure we’re successful in Winnipeg first. After that, whatever happens happens."
For more information, visit www.retroflipbooks.com