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.
Script 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.
Working together with Bristol-based creative agency Modular Digital, my first film for CABI was recently released. CABI (The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International) are a non-profit development organisation focussing specifically on agriculture and the environment. The film itself concerns CABI's Action on Invasives campaign which seeks to raise awareness of the impact invasive species have on the rural poor in developing countries.
The animation was based on the illustrations created for CABI's brochure on Invasive Species so that we could focus the viewers' attention on the people most effected by the threat of Invasive Species. Created primarily using Adobe Animate, based on a script and voiceover supplied by CABI and Modular.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
A 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.
Having grappled in my last TED-Ed film with the impossibility of dividing by zero, my latest work for the educational channel remains focussed on exceedingly small things. Things so small you cannot see them, but out of which everything is made. That's right; we're doing particle physics.
In particular, we are looking at The Standard Model, a theory that classifies the elementary particles and fundamental forces in the known universe.
TED-Ed films work by paring animators with educators, and I was lucky enough to be pared with Jon Butterworth, a professor of physics who worked on the ATLAS experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, and writer for the Guardian's Life and Physics column. Even so, I had a steep learning curve, with many complex ideas to get my head around. I chose to focus on a single graphic of the Standard Model, so that as the film progressed the diagram would be unpacked, and put back together, in the hope that the viewer would gain a deeper understanding along the way.
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.
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.
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.
Script 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.
My first film for the World Bank is unusual in that it contains almost no animation. It is comprised of a series of photos from the World Bank archive, and explains the organisation's role in supporting education globally. If you're missing my drawings, fear not, because aside from the host of other films soon to be released for my usual clients like TED-Ed and The School of Life, I'm also planning some animated films with the World Bank too.
Still, it's fun to do something different, and every time I make a film using a different technique I hope to learn something that will inform my over all aesthetic. This film is no exception to that. From a creative perspective, the emphasis here was very much on the choice of images and the timing of the messaging. I am grateful to all the photographers who have made the World Bank's photo archive such a rich resource to plunder! Watch it here, and stay tuned for more news about future work with the World Bank.
I recently did a small job for Penguin that reminded me how much fun I used to have working on branded websites for children. That was back when we could build entire websites in Flash, and the results were often more point-and-click adventure than anything you might expect on a conventional website. The upshot of this was often that nobody could find anything, and we usually ended up having to hide the fun stuff behind a boring HTML web page. Then the rise of smartphones pretty much obliterated Flash overnight and such websites became a rarity. One such site, on which I was the creative lead, was the Secret Show, winner of the 2007 interactive Children's BAFTA. Like so much of my work from that time it has long since vanished from the internet.
Anyway, all I had to do this time around was breath some life back into the homepage banner at children's author Jeremy Strong's website. This too had once been Flash, but all the lovely animation of Nick Sharrat's illustration had long been lost in the great Flash extinction of 20-whenever-it-was. It's arguably Flash now too, because I created the new animation in Adobe Animate (the successor to Flash) but the output is not the once ubiquitous .swf, but HTML5, as with my work for Transparency International.
It's not much, but I had fun doing it. My previous animation jobs for Penguin include work for such brands as Peppa Pig, Spot and The Beano. You can find more information about this here.