Earlier this year I had the opportunity to work with the 5Rights Foundation again. My first collaboration with the organisation dedicated to protecting children online was the illustrated educational booklet, Demystifying the Age Appropriate Design Code, back in 2019. This was followed by another booklet this year, entitled Demystifying Age Assurance. Not longer after that, I finally got to work with 5Rights on an animated short.
The video was made to support the launch of the Child Online Safety Toolkit, a "comprehensive how-to guide for making the online world free from harm for children". You can read more about it here.
If you're interested in making films to explain the work of your organisation, please get in touch.
1st April 2022 - Comments Off on TED-Ed: Why the Sun could crash your internet
Another film for TED-Ed (my 13th to date), this animation explores the science of solar storms. It opens in Colorado, 1859, the date of the largest solar storm ever recorded, then goes on to explain why they happen, the possible consequences, and our increasing ability to predict them.
The educator for this film was Fabio Pacucci, who has collaborated on several previous astronomy-themed TED-Ed films, but this was our first time working together. As always, TED-Ed provide both the script and voiceover, giving me free rein to develop the look and feel of the film. The biggest challenge for this animation was developing a believable replication of the aurora borealis. The film was made using Adobe Animate, Photoshop and After Effects.
My latest film for TED-Ed explores the reasons you don't hear much about Acid Rain anymore. Studying past environmental problems when we have so many current ones may seem strange, but there is much to be learnt from the way some countries were able to reduce the threat of Acid Rain. In particular, it highlights the value in listening to scientists rather than lobbyists for business, and how the solutions to these problems can be lead by carefully considered policy changes.
The lead educationalist on the project was Joseph Goffman of the Harvard Environmental and Energy Law Program. TED-Ed provide me with his script and the voiceover from which I am free to develop the visual concept. The film was made in Adobe Animate, and bases its look on the 1960s and '70s milieu of the scientists who first noticed the increasing acidity of rain.
My first film for The School of Life in a little while is actually one I made some time ago now. It's ostensibly about the decision whether or not to have children (although in my experience, choice is very often not a factor), but it is in fact more concerned with any difficult decisions we might face in life, and how we live with the consequences. As the film puts it, "we aren’t choosing either a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answer - merely deciding which form of future suffering we are best suited for."
As always with The School of Life films, the script and voiceover were provided by Alain de Botton. I then ran with the design, choosing to make all the characters rabbits, apart from one scene in which a rabbit unmasks himself to reveal that he is in fact Søren Kierkegaard. This is the scene I enjoyed animating the most. As usual, it was made using Adobe Animate.
Drinkaware is a new client who approached me to make a film for Alcohol Awareness Week highlighting the mental health impact of excessive drinking. Intended to be short and direct with the aim of driving viewers to the Drinkaware website for advice on how to cut down and more information about the links between alcohol, depression and anxiety.
The film had a very short turnaround time, so I drew heavily on their existing brand design. Fortunately, their bold colours and clear pictograms lent themselves perfectly to my style of film making, so even with just a few days to make the film, I believe we were able to create an impactful short animation. As usual, it was created in Adobe Animate, and the film can be viewed both on the Drinkaware website and on YouTube.
Made during the early months of the 2020 coronavirus lockdown, the release of my latest TED-Ed film fortuitously coincided with a flurry of news about the possible efficacy of steroids for treating COVID-19. It explains how corticosteroids enter our cells and can help fight allergic reactions, rashes, asthma, and harmful immune responses.
Anees Bahji is the educator behind the script supplied by TED-Ed, from which I designed and animated the film. As is often the case with films for TED-Ed, the challenge is to make often quite abstract ideas easy to grasp (what do steroids look like? How do you show the ways in which they interact with the human body?) Often I also face my own steep learning curve, when trying to depict activity at a molecular level.
Another new work for the School of Life YouTube channel, this time tackling anger. Specifically, it considers those who are slow to anger, and whether timidity might not be a hindrance. Is it possible that we can learn to be angry in a constructive way, rather than raging blindly, or just bottling it up until we explode? This is a short film which teaches us to speak up when we need to.
The film is developed from Alain de Botton's script and narration, and is the latest in a long series of films I have made for the educational organisation. Most of the films consider aspects of personal growth, and the ways in which we interact with one another. Having tackled depression in my last film for them, anger was another compelling topic with which to grapple. It was animated mostly using Adobe Animate and, to a lesser extent, Adobe After Effects.
Starting from an amusing script provided by the client, this animation was an opportunity to create a cast of anthropomorphic plants, some of whom I'd be delighted to take on further adventures! The light-hearted tone is further helped by voiceover from talented performer Louis Jones.
Demystifying the Age Appropriate Design Code is a presentation and educational booklet designed and illustrated for 5Rights Foundation. It explains why the code exists and what needs to happen for websites to implement its recommendations. In the words of their website, "5Rights Foundation exists to articulate the rights of children in the digital environment." Launched in 2015 by Baroness Kidron, they aim to address the failure of the digital world to differentiate between child and adult users, and take steps to protect children's rights online.
Beeban Kidron initially contacted me to discuss making a film. This has yet to happen (although I sincerely hope it will) but we later had a discussion about what could be done to turn a Power Point presentation on the Age Appropriate Design Code into something more compelling. Using a mixture of illustration, design and the 5Rights' existing brand guidelines, we collaboratively conceived a 23 page document which can be seen in full here.
The success of this document led to the development of a print version, shown above, for distribution to people in a position to influence and enact the necessary changes.
If you would like to discuss how illustration can be used in your campaign materials, get in touch here.
"A child is a child until they reach maturity, not only until they reach for their smartphone."
28th August 2019 - Comments Off on 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.