A new educational video concept, Readeez adopts SyllableSync™, an original method which combines written and spoken word that gives children the unique experience of being read to while reading for themselves. More than just your usual cartoons, Readeez are health food for growing minds.
We had a short interview with the founder himself to learn more about Readeez.
Hi Michael, would you like to tell us more about yourself to our readers?
I’m from a small town called Annapolis, which on the east coast of the U.S. It’s the home of our Naval Academy, where my father went to college. When I was eighteen I moved to Washington, DC, and I’ve also lived in New York and Boston. I now live in Atlanta, the “capital of the South.” Before I got the idea for Readeez I worked in advertising, which was fun but stressful. I have a daughter who was born in 1999.
What was the inspiration or story behind the creation of Readeez?
I wasn’t happy with the videos I found for my young daughter. I’ve always enjoyed books, and I’m a lifelong musician—it just sort of evolved from my love of music, storybooks and cartoons. Readeez combines elements of all of these. And I discovered that I love making them.
Readeez is a rather interesting name as well. Any story or meaning behind the name?
Sometimes kids will add “-ee” or “-y” to the end of a word to make it mean something smaller and cuter. Like, “Daddy, will you read me my wittle booky-wooky?” So a “Readee” is what I call our little movies, where the words are read to you. It also works with Matheez, Songeez, Rhymeez, etc. The “z” at the end — that was to make the names more unique (and easy to trademark!)
There are two main characters, Julian and Isabel in your Readeez videos. Just curious, are the two of them based on real life characters, or created out of your imagination?
Well, many people believe that Julian Waters is based on me. He wears glasses, as I do. He’s a musician (so am I). And he loves his little girl, which I certainly do. Our voices are quite similar. But I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. As for Isabel — she’s just Isabel. :-)
You use a technique known as SyllableSync™. Is this a feature which is uniquely Readeez? Can you tell us more about this and how it works?
If Julian and Isabel are the heart of Readeez, SyllableSync™ is the brain. It’s an approach I believe I invented as it applies to reading instruction. I’ve seen it used before in ads or music videos — usually for just a word or two, for emphasis.
How SyllableSync works is that every syllable you hear spoken or sung in the video appears at the same instant, in writing, on the screen. So you’re learning how the sounds you hear are written, and also how the letters you’re seeing are pronounced. It’s sort of like flash cards, where a parent holds up a word for a child and speaks it: “Cat. House. Tree.” But more entertaining. You can read more about SyllableSync here.
Where do you get your ideas or draw inspiration for your videos?
Ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes I have a particular concept or set of facts I want to explore, like with “Addition Magician” or “Meet The Clock.” But often a word or phrase will just strike me out of the blue. “Chandelier” and “How ‘Bout That Cow” would be examples of that.
What is the process of creating one Readeez video? Care to give us a short breakdown on how it is normally done?
Generally the music comes first. Once in a while I’ll get an idea for a visual — with “Big in Mind” I pictured the big speakers on either side of me and went from there. Most often, though, I have a song idea. I write the song, record it in my studio (or occasionally play it live on camera), then begin thinking about how to visualize it. That last step is made easier by the fact that I know the main visual is always going to be the words! As for which I write first, words or melodies, it’s about 90% words first.
How long does it normally take, to create a Readeez video?
The most time-consuming part is nearly always the song. I’ve had songs that literally took years to write. “Tonight And Every Night” was one of those. Sometimes I get lucky and I write a song in a day or two.
Once the song is complete (or when I’m so tired of working on it I need a break) I’ll do the animation. It can take from one to three days to animate a Readee. And it’s actually the part I enjoy most. It’s quite satisfying to choose the visuals and typefaces, put the words in place, then have them line up with the soundtrack. When it’s going well it’s sort of like meditation.
We really like your slogan, “Leaning disguised as smiling” and definitely hope that everyone aspires to think of learning that way. Care to give a shout out to our mothers in Singapore?
It’s my belief that we don’t have to separate what we share with our kids into things that are “educational” and things that are “just for fun.” My aim is to have Readeez be both. It’s been wonderful working with people in Singapore! I hope to make a visit soon and meet lots of moms, dads and kids in person.
By the way, I love hearing from parents whose kids like Readeez, and it’s especially nice when parents tell me they enjoy the videos themselves. If you have any stories to share, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your time Michael!
It’s been my pleasure.
To view Michael’s Readeez videos, visit his website here.