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.
23rd August 2018 - Comments Off on 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.
I'm finally performing at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Or, rather, this is the only way I'm ever likely to. Audiences of Jon Gracey's Werewolf: Live will watch a looping 3 minute video I made as they enter the theatre.
The short animation builds on the teaser I made early last year, and explains what will happen during the show. It also functions as a general introduction to the popular game, not just for those participating in the live theatrical version. Hopefully, in this capacity, it will take on a life of its own over on YouTube as well as at the Iron Belly in Edinburgh from the 2nd to the 26th August 2018, and in future shows.
Another recent release is a promotional film for Age Connects Cardiff and The Vale, made together with video production company DAKONA. The film is designed to outline how they put people at the centre of what they do, from the volunteer helpers through to the elderly people they help, support and enable. The film is also available in Welsh.
Made entirely in Adobe Animate, the film focuses on character to illustrate how the independent registered charity reaches out to people who may otherwise become lonely and isolated. You can find out more about their work and donate via their website. You can also find more information about my highly talented production partner DAKONA here.
25th July 2018 - Comments Off on Over 30 Characters for Cosmic Kids Yoga
Since 2014 I have designed over 30 original characters for Cosmic Kids, whose yoga videos tell colourful stories to kids every week. Jaime, the show's host, wears a costume adorned with patches featuring a handful of these characters, and she recently asked me to prepare a few of the more recent characters to be made into new patches. I've yet to see the results, but the above image was made from the haul of characters that have emerged over the last 2 years. They include Arnold the Ant, Diggory the Dump Truck and a rare humanoid addition in the shape of Ruby Broom, with her enormous hair.
At the time of writing, the content I created for the Cosmic Kids Yoga Pose Universe is also still being released on a weekly basis. Here's Butterfly Pose:
Look out for more additions to the wonderful world of Cosmic Kids in the future.
20th June 2018 - Comments Off on 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.
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.
My latest film for TED-Ed sees me yet again grappling with barely understood maths, after what must have seemed a competent attempt at pretending I was all up to speed with Pythagoras. This time around the theme is zero, and more importantly, why you can't divide by it. TED-Ed pose the question "How can the simple combination of an everyday number and a basic operation cause such problems?" This film is the answer.
Script and voiceover are provided by TED-Ed, and the design and animation was all down to me. The challenge on this film was to keep the visuals light hearted and fun, when what I was showing was, for the most part, numbers. I came up with a series of colourful blocks, and built the film around that visual.
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 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
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.
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.