15th November 2018 - Comments Off on TED-Ed: The Standard Model of Particle Physics

TED-Ed: The Standard Model of Particle Physics

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.

If your brain can take more after digesting the world of leptons, quarks and bosons, my other films for TED-Ed are collected here. The one on clouds is probably a little easier on the mind, and has soothing music too.

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.

1st October 2018 - Comments Off on The World Bank: Right Now, Somewhere

The World Bank: Right Now, Somewhere

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.

Right now, somewhere...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.

26th September 2018 - Comments Off on Jeremy Strong Homepage Animation

Jeremy Strong Homepage Animation

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’?

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.

6th August 2018 - Comments Off on How to Play Werewolf: Live

How to Play Werewolf: Live

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.

You can book tickets for the show here: http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/whats-on/werewolf-live#calendar-08-2018

Werewolf: Live is one of two performances Jon Gracey currently has at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018. The other is Courtroom Play: A Courtroom Play. More information here. http://www.miromagazine.com/theatre/edinburgh-2018-spotlight-courtroom-play/

25th July 2018 - Comments Off on Age Connects Cardiff and The Vale with DAKONA Productions

Age Connects Cardiff and The Vale with DAKONA Productions

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

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

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.