On The Day You Were Born

On the Day You Were Born, an award-winning children’s book by Debra Frasier which became a symphony composed by Steve Heitzeg, is now a unique 30-minute animated video weaving together symphony, story, and animation. The Imaging Research Center was responsible for producing over 15 minutes of high-end animation that brought to life the illustrations from the book. On the Day You Were Born is the pilot in a series of three “Story Concerts” for children released by the Minnesota Orchestra under its trademark “Notes Alive!” label.


Work on the video began with a live recording session with the Minnesota Orchestra. With the music track laid down, the IRC Interns, under the direction of animator Dan Bailey, could begin synchronizing movement to music. Their task was to make the characters emerge from the page but also to retain the simplicity of Frasier’s art, originally constructed with only paper, scissors, and glue.

Debra’s illustrations are gorgeous, and we knew from the start that we wanted to keep the cut-paper look. We used a computer to animate, but the finished product doesn’t have a typical computerized look.

— Dan Bailey, Director


Since its release in 1997, the On the Day You Were Born video has received four national awards, including the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. Awarded by the American Library Association, this medal is given to only one children’s video in the U. S. each year that “is of especially commendable quality and reflects respect for the child’s intelligence and imagination.”

Excerpts of the animation were also screened on the NBC Today Show in honor of the video receiving the Oppenheim Platinum Video Award.

The complete list of awards is as follows:

  • Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence
  • Parent’s Choice Award
  • Oppenheim Platinum Award
  • Kids First Seal of Approval

Production Notes

Produced by: The Minnesota Orchestra, Ward Gill, Executive Producer
Animation Director: Dan Bailey
Animation Supervisor: Maria Palazzi
IRC Graduate Research Assistants: Claudia Herbst, Leslie Heins, Will Brooks
Technical Assistant: Jeff Goldfarb
UMBC Interns: Tim Best, Irene Bertoldi, Yin Chien, Jed Duvall, Susan Gonnelli, Joseph Jeppi, Angelika Kirkland, Raphael Reggie, Suzanne Sarich, Phil Vogelgesang, Jr., Aleksey Zolotaryov
Producer: Tacy Mangan
Author and Narrator: Debra Frasier
Music Composed by: Steve Heitzeg
Conductor: Bill Eddins