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All Posts in School of Life

5th July 2019 - Comments Off on The School of Life: How to Cope with Depression

The School of Life: How to Cope with Depression

My newest film for Alain de Botton's School of Life considers ways of coping with depression by examining the crucial differences between that state and sadness. Understanding the nature of this difference is, according to the film's argument, the first step towards reaching self-understanding, and through this, to find a way of dealing with it.

The School of Life: How to Cope with DepressionHow to Cope with Depression for the School of LifeScript and voiceover are provided by The School of Life, for whom I have made several other films, mostly dealing with aspects of psychology. Based on this, I conceive the design and animation in a way intended to compliment the narration. This film was made in Adobe Animate, with some additional texture work applied in Adobe After Effects. There is also a lot of scribbling. I enjoyed that.

The School of Life: How to Cope with DepressionThe School of Life: How to Cope with DepressionHere in the news section of my site you'll find articles on most of my previous works for the School of Life, as well as a dedicated page in my portfolio, on topics ranging from a suppressed love of gherkins to the things that trigger us. If you like what you see and would like me to make a film for you, please get in touch.

27th March 2019 - Comments Off on The School of Life: When Your Partner Tries to Stop You Growing

The School of Life: When Your Partner Tries to Stop You Growing

My newest film for Alain de Botton's School of Life YouTube channel is not solely about gherkins, but I confess, I did take a throwaway remark about pickles and run with it. It's really about when partners in a relationship can stifle the other's opportunities for growth. In a way, it works as a companion to my earlier film for them entitled "How Can We Grow Emotionally", released earlier last year.

As with previous films for the School of Life, I am given both the script, and Alain de Botton's voiceover to work from. Design and animation is then up to me. The film follows three couples, one of whom is struggling with a threatening new found love of pickles.

You can find articles about my previous work for the School of Life here in the news section, or on the dedicated page in my portfolio, on topics ranging from how to be a good guest to personal instruction manuals.

22nd January 2019 - Comments Off on I made a film about nothing and it was watched 2 million times

I made a film about nothing and it was watched 2 million times

Apparently people think that if you multiply zero by a sufficiently large number, eventually it suddenly becomes something.

This was Douglas Adams' famous quote regarding the first dotcom bubble. Almost two decades later it turns out that dividing by zero can yield similarly large amounts. With over 2.7 million views, my film "Why Can't You Divide by Zero?" was one of 2018's top 10 most watched films on the educational animation channel, TED-Ed. The channel released well over 100 films last year, clocking up a staggering 20 million hours of viewing time.

According to an article released on the TED-Ed blog, myths and riddles have proven their most popular topics, with 4 and 2 films on these subjects in the top 10 respectively. Other films concerned Roman history, cannibalism and the stickiness of glue and tape. But at number 7 in the over all viewing figures for the year stands my examination of dividing by zero.

This film was one of two of my animations released on the channel in 2018, the second being about particle physics. With 4.3 million views, my 2016 film on critical thinking remains my most watched film on the channel, and indeed, on all of YouTube. "Why Can't You Divide by Zero?" holds the second place, with the School of Life's "Why Boys are Means To Girls They Like" in third, with 1.8 million views.

As we begin 2019 my 11th film for TED-Ed is in production, and my 14th film for the School of Life is awaiting release. News of these and work for my other clients will be announced here on my website, Facebook page and Twitter account. Here's to more big numbers over the next 12 months.

Thank you for watching!

11th January 2019 - Comments Off on The School of Life: How to be a good guest

The School of Life: How to be a good guest

The title might suggest you're in for a film on social etiquette, and good behaviour, but in a way my latest work for The School of Life is quite the opposite. Similarly to my last film for them, concerned with not worrying so much whether people like you, this film also urges you not to merely laugh along politely with your host for fear of hurting their feelings. Rather, you should show the candour of a child mixed with the social empathy of a mature adult, and BINGO! You're a lovable eccentric. That or they'll never invite you back, but at least you had some fun, eh?

The School of Life: How to be a good guest

Script and voiceover are provided by the school's founder, author and philosopher Alain de Botton.

This is the starting point for my designs and conceptualisation, which I then carry through to the final animation. This is my 14th film for the school, and so from now on I have decided, as a little Easter Egg, to add the number of the film in one of the shots.

The School of Life: How to be a good guestThe School of Life: How to be a good guestA general overview of my work for the school, together with links to several previous works can be found here. Themes range from troubled childhoods to the conflict between emotional and emotional growth.

15th November 2018 - Comments Off on The School of Life: How to Stop Worrying Whether or Not They Like You

The School of Life: How to Stop Worrying Whether or Not They Like You

Have you ever had a friendship deteriorate because of your possibly false conviction that the other person doesn't like you? My latest film for The School of Life tackles this particular aspect of relationships, and crucially, how you can stop worrying about it.

From the film:

One of the most acute questions we ask ourselves in relation to new friends and acquaintances is whether or not they like us. The question feels so significant because, depending on how we answer it in our minds, we will either take steps to deepen the friendship or, as is often the case, immediately make moves to withdraw from it so as to spare ourselves humiliation and embarrassment.

How to Stop Worrying Whether or Not They Like YouHow to Stop Worrying Whether or Not They Like You

As usual, the process with films for The School of Life is that they provide me with Alain de Botton's script and voiceover from which I then provide all design and animation. The first step is to think of the angle I'm going to take with the visuals, and conceive a cast of characters. There are 5 characters in the film, but it follows one in particular who is struggling with her anxiety over whether a friend likes her or not.

Previous films for The School of Life have covered everything from emotional growth to the annihilation of humanity. Many of them can be found here.

We should stop worrying quite so much whether or not people like us, and do that far more interesting and socially-useful move: concentrate on showing that we like them.

12th October 2018 - Comments Off on The School of Life: How Can We Grow Emotionally

The School of Life: How Can We Grow Emotionally

Yet another film for Alain de Botton's School of Life investigating another murky area of human psychology. This time it's about the drive to grow emotionally, which it sets against physical growth.
To borrow their words:

Throughout our lives, sometimes at considerable cost to our short term peace of mind, we're engaged on a journey of emotional development that we should learn to understand, recognise and honour.

The Drive to Grow EmotionallyScript and voiceover is provided by the School of Life, and I am set loose upon the visuals. This time I took the contrasting notion of physical growth and used it as a metaphor for growing emotionally, meaning I got to draw beating hearts, sprouting foliage and dancing skeletons. All in a day's work.

You can find my previous films for The School of Life here.

23rd August 2018 - Comments Off on The School of Life: Why Are We so Easily ‘triggered’?

The School of Life: Why Are We so Easily ‘triggered’?

My latest film for The School of Life reflects on why we are too easily triggered. Why do our reactions to things often seem so out of proportion to the actual situations in which we find ourselves? In attempting to answer this question, Alain de Botton examines the tendency of our past experiences, often dating back to early childhood, to cloud our judgement in the present.

Building on some of the visual language developed for my last film for The School of Life (Knowing Ourselves Intellectually vs. Knowing Ourselves Emotionally) this film again attempts to show the difference between our complicated inner lives and the world in which we find ourselves. With each new film I make for The School of Life, this shorthand for showing complex psychological concepts grows and improves.

Working entirely from a script and voiceover provided by The School, I use Adobe Animate to bring Alain de Botton's essays to life. My previous films for The School of Life can be found here.

20th June 2018 - Comments Off on The School of Life: Knowing Ourselves Intellectually vs. Knowing Ourselves Emotionally

The School of Life: Knowing Ourselves Intellectually vs. Knowing Ourselves Emotionally

Alain de Botton's latest film for The School of Life concerns itself with self-knowledge, and in particular, the difficulty that results from trying to understand ourselves emotionally, rather than just intellectually. The film suggests that the former is the harder proposition, but also, ultimately, the most rewarding.

When writing about my last film for The School of life I said that the films focussed very much on our inner-lives, and in a way, this film took that notion to the next level. The visual challenge for me was to develop a shorthand for the two types of self-knowledge with which the film is concerned; the intellectual and the emotional.

Knowing Ourselves Intellectually vs. Knowing Ourselves Emotionally

I settled on brightly-coloured swirling shapes to represent our tricky-to-manage feelings, whilst intellectual knowledge was represented by a boxy organisational flow diagram. Everything ordered and in its place. Throughout the film our protagonist battles with these two forms of self-knowledge.

Script and voiceover are provided by The School of Life, then designed and animated entirely by me. My main tool is, as usual, Adobe Animate. You can find a summary of all my films for The School of Life here.

7th March 2018 - Comments Off on The School of Life: The Advantages of Being ‘just Good Friends’

The School of Life: The Advantages of Being ‘just Good Friends’

My second release for The School of Life in the same week, although I should mention that the first film was made almost a year ago. This time Alain de Botton is exploring the differences between romantic love and friendship. His premise is that it is in friendship that we are our "best selves" and that it should not be thought of as the lesser state.

As always, I receive the script and voiceover from The School of Life, for whom I have now made several films, and then set to work translating it into a series of visuals. The emphasis on human psychology means that all my films for The School of Life have been character led, focussing very much on our inner lives and how we relate to one another. My next film, already in production, will be no exception to this.

The School of Life considers loveThe films are made in Adobe Animate (or Flash as it was until fairly recently). Some time I may put together a post about my character design process, but right now I need to get on with making some more characters.

5th March 2018 - Comments Off on The School of Life: How to Be a Good Teacher

The School of Life: How to Be a Good Teacher

My latest release for The School of Life tackles teaching, although not the kind encountered in classrooms. Rather it is about the ways in which we are all required to teach one another. The film lists a series of qualities that make for good teaching in our day-to-day interactions, and to illustrate this I conceived a series of everyday exchanges. A child teaching his grandmother to play a video game, or a colleague explaining a piece of software. The scenes are linked by overlapping characters to show a chain that ends with the first teacher being taught.

The process for making films for School of Life is that Alain de Botton sends his script and voiceover which I then translate into animation. The ideas are his, but the animation provides a space in which to reflect on the words, and to explore ones own ideas in relation to the subject. Whether you agree with the films or not, they always open up interesting discussion.

How to Be a Good Teacher

My previous films for The School of Life have covered many subjects, from lying to ourselves and political correctness, to why humanity destroyed itself. Read more about them here.