All Posts in Animation

28th August 2019 - Comments Off on TED-Ed: The mysterious origins of life on Earth

TED-Ed: The mysterious origins of life on Earth

Working with marine ecologist Luka Seamus Wright, my latest animation for TED-Ed explores the origins of life on Earth, and more specifically, where it might have happened. The film takes us to the ocean floor where fissures in the Earth's crust cause hydrothermal vents to spew vast quantities of hot seawater; the probable cradle of life.

The TED-Ed process is to pair educators with animators to combine deep specialised knowledge with a talent for visualisation and thereby produce unique films that make complex subjects easier to understand without ever dumbing down the core lessons. In a sense, TED-Ed is the fissure in ocean floor, animators are the boiling water they spew, and the educators are the rich soup of minerals that bring forth life. I receive the script and voiceover from TED, from which I design and animate the film. I was also responsible for the sound design on this film, which was a lot of fun to make, comprised as it is of deep gurgling and aquatic percolation.

This is my tenth film for TED-Ed, many of which are collected here in my portfolio. Most recently I have taken on particle physics and the impossibility of dividing by zero, so as you will see, the subject matter is seldom light. My aim is also to make it fun.

If you'd like me to make a film for you, get in touch here to discuss you needs.

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.

30th April 2019 - Comments Off on CABI: Action on Invasives

CABI: Action on Invasives

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.

More information on the campaign can be found on Cabi's Action on Invasive website. Get in touch if you'd like to talk about how I can bring your campaign to life with animated video.

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 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.

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.