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.
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.
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.
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.
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.