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.
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.