Animated Storytelling

Doing an RSA Animate.

I am a big fan of the RSA Animate talks. The first one I saw was about three years ago on Changing Education Paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson. Not only is Ken a very powerful speaker but also this edited version of his talk is brought alive by the awesome illustrations. They appear as being done in real-time (which is not the case) but the illusion helps elevate the whole storytelling to a different level. There is an intrinsic power in using the dual coding of aural and visual signals to get the message across. And these animated talks bring that out very clearly.

“I am Able” - Concept Ad

So I decided to attempt to do a version or two of these myself. I wanted to highlight the “I am able” concept behind Amable, a start-up focussed on empowering children. So I wrote a lyrical text around the concept and did a sketch in Paper (not the real one, but the iPad app) to highlight the text. Now, I am not an accomplished illustrators but I have been trying to sketch more during this year. I tried to use two simple effects to get the animation to work. First, the letters appear written one by one, like in a typewriter in a typewriter font and second, the sketch image appears to fade-in and become more visible as the text is written. I wanted to make it web native, so it required a bit of coding using Processing to make it happen. Overall I liked the handcraft nature of the animation, even though it lacks sound to add another dimension to it.

“I am Able” - Video Ad

The second is actually more closer to the RSA Animate one. It is done using a software called VideoScribe which tries to automate the whole process of making these real-time illustrations, including a proxy hand holding a pen. You can basically input any drawing element (or use the inbuilt one - which I did) and control where the element is drawn on an infinite canvas. You can change the color, add text, or show some animations around it. The key is you can control how long it takes to draw each element and how you move between these elements. With that timing control, you can sync any audio track with the illustration to make it engaging. I used the one-week trial to make the below video of another ‘I am able’ concept ad. However the one thing I don’t like is lock-in of using a proprietary tool like this as I need to pay for a monthly subscription to keep using and editing my work. Though there is no doubt that with good illustration and some time, you can create wonderful animated videos with this tool.