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Getting animated

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:19 AM
Randy Parker, who describes himself as "a bit of a Halloween fanatic," works in his office Monday with one of his Halloween leftovers standing against the wall. Parker, a former Disney animator, is using his skills to lead the firm into the educational-software business. Its product is Creativity Express, software designed to teach art to students.
Creativity Express is software from Madcap Logic that teaches art to children.

Former Disney animator Randy Parker is beginning to see some success for his Durango company, Madcap Logic.





The educational-software business makes Creativity Express, a retail software product that

has found its way into Apple stores nationwide.





Creativity Express uses computer-generated animation to teach art. Users can interact with

characters including Furnace (a polar bear), Tickles and Ruby. Madcap Logic produces a CD-ROM that retails for

$29.95. Users can also subscribe to the program via the Internet for $35 a year.





Madcap has 12 full-time employees; 11 work out of its Durango Tech Center office and one

works from Tampa, Fla.





The company uses freelance animators when it ramps up production.





"We don't have to carry a huge overhead," said Parker, the chief executive officer.





Parker studied live-action and animated film at the University of Southern California before

joining Disney. He worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation for nearly 12 years in Los Angeles and Florida, employing

computer-generated animation in such films as "Mulan" and "Lilo & Stitch."





A friend who owned an audio studio in Durango drew Parker and some of his Disney colleagues

here. They soon formed GeeGuides and began producing mobile, animated museum tour guides. The company changed its

name to Madcap Logic in November, about the same time as it launched Creativity Express on CD-ROM.





"Their business model is really exceptional," said Thomas Harrington, dean of the Fort Lewis

College School of Business Administration. "Their dream was to take their skills in animation and Web-based animation

and interactivity, and apply them to their passion for use in the educational market."





Harrington lauded the company's rebranding into Madcap Logic.





"They really do have a potential to succeed," he said.





Madcap is working on bundling Creativity Express with other products, particularly art

supplies. Parker said market research has indicated a positive reception for the idea.





Video gaming could also provide opportunities for Madcap to grow.





"The conventions of game play are very positive educators as well," said Parker, who

envisions children playing video-game characters who would explore an academic subject.





Creativity Express was initially an online-only product. But an encounter with an Apple

representative at the 2007 Toy Fair in New York changed that.





"It was sort of at Apple's suggestion that we went back and created a CD-ROM version of the

product," Parker said. The CD-ROM format, though, is on its way out, and Parker sees a future in Internet

subscriptions.





Creativity Express has proved popular with parents who home-school their children, and with

online and distance-learning institutions, Parker said. Much of the product testing was conducted with Riverview

Elementary School students, and Madcap has followed up by donating Creativity Express to Durango School District

9-R.





"We have been lucky to land in a community with such support," Parker said.





Madcap Logic has been supported since its inception by a single "angel investor" who wishes

to remain private, Parker said. "He wants to see us get out there and do some stuff for kids," he said.





Parker declined to release revenue figures for Madcap Logic, but he did say they are

"steadily increasing."





"We are not cash-flow positive, but we are coming up on that mark," Parker said. "And we're

excited about the opportunities to grow beyond that."





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