Graphic Narratives

The brief is to create an imaginative piece of animated infographics, 2min in length about a topic of your choice – with a strong focus on storytelling and creativity – that presents complex information quickly and clearly.

I wanted to start this project by looking back at previous animation, or animation integrated pieces that I have created, so that as a whole, I can look at their shortcomings and decide what I want to focus on in this project.

When I look at all these animations, I realise that there is a lot of flashing imagery, without much real content. I want to focus on a real story with details portions rather than bright colours and club styled visuals. Something like this could intrigue the viewer to a much deeper level than just the bright colours and images I can often end up focusing on. I think I want a narrative story throughout the animation trying to pose a question in an unusual way.

Looking through many kinds of animation, I realise that I want to explore something rather complex, and try to make it into something which we can tangibly understand. I realise that it can often come across in my work that the ideas are so complex and ill explained, that their in no purpose to it. This is why I want to focus on clarifying my explanation process and making something which is rather insightful and making the viewer want to know more about the ideas presented within.

Here are several animations I created from drawings played quickly one after another. The first 2 are just simple animations with the third being those animations layered on video for testing purposes. I feel that I want to explore a simpler and more clear narrative in this project and thus the very first of these 3 animations is the style which best suits this project and the one in intend to use going forward within it.

I want to make a fluid and flowing story throughout my 2 minute animation and intend to base it upon the ideas of space. I feel every time i watch a video on the unknown limits of space I become engrossed so I want to create a short into to deep space theory making the viewer want to find out more on their own. I want to flow between animated segments in an almost seemless way, and think that this will create the most compelling viewing experience. However I don’t want to rely on flashy effects, only simple colours and interesting information. It is highly likely that I will overdub a narration on to the animation to create further insight into the ideas of space. I may record this myself but I intend to create a general plan of the 2 minutes in order to create short intriguing segments which can each be more deeply explored.

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Above are the last several pages from my sketchbook. I have been refining the idea that I want to spend a minute of the infographic on black holes, and a minute on the great filter potentially, linking both together in an organic way. If it comes down to the end, I may just focus on black holes entirely instead but this depends on timescale and how well timing fits with the 15 second segments.

Above you can see different variations of a rough draft of the final 15 seconds from my intended 2 minute animation. I feel that using optical flow shifts the feel of the visuals to an extreme level. I want to explore using shadows and 2.5D potentially in Photoshop with this sequence, however I feel this may remove from the clear appearance the style gives to the viewer.

I decided to opt out of smoothing the video for the final animation. Instead I will make it 8 frames a second which is just smooth enough to appear as fluid motion to the viewer, without taking inordinate amounts of time to animate in stop motion.

Here you can see three versions of the base animation, the first is the pre render version within Photoshop, with onion skins showing the previous and next frame at all times; the second is the rendered out 2 minutes at 8 frames and the third is a triple sped up version playing over 40 seconds at 24 frames per second:

Now I need to create the voiceover for this film, along with chosing appropriate backing sounds to go along with the explanation of the visuals. Once I have done this, I will colour in the sections, followed up by adding lights and shadows to create a more three-dimensional feel, as I did in the 15 second test piece.

Here you can see the piece with the final audio added. I feel that this adds an intense atmosphere to the whole work, which was lacking earlier, and allows me to colour the pieces to a greater degree and further develop the feel of the piece in an ominous way.

Here you can see the piece  with the shading and incorporated. This focuses the work to a much greater extent, making the viewer link the visuals and audio to a greater extent, and focusing on the link between them more astutely. I think this piece worked well in many ways, and the general aesthetic is what I was aiming for. I feel as with any self-generated work, every minor imperfection is much more visible to myself, as I know exactly how I intended the piece to flow. However, I need to realise that the viewer has no preconception, or a very limited one, of what they expect, so anything can amaze and amuse them. Therefore, I need not worry so deeply about slight issues within the piece, which to anyone else only add charm to the work.

The dark background in the final work make the work seem more situated within space, while the bright colours bring back the informative and light-hearted feel that I didn’t want to stray too far away from. I feel even though I am discussing very intangible concepts, they come across in a very understandable way which is what I intended, meaning overall this piece works to a great extent.

The theoretical reasoning behind my work was to explore creating visuals for areas of intrigue which can often be very hard to visualise. I have always been fascinated with the concept of black holes as they form something which is basically invisible us. However when we visually represent them, they become so much more tangible. I love the idea of generating and expanding what we perceive as tangible as human beings. We can push boundaries and expand human thinking too much greater degrees allowing us to creatively explore new possibilities. I used flowing imagery to represent the constant flowing nature of time. I perceive that the inspiration behind my work was rather passive in nature. I didn’t gain a direct push form one force, but rather generated ideas over a long-span as I usually do.

When I was younger I would watch documentaries all about space and the theoretical concepts of it. I would be drawn in easily but found that they represented their ideas so scientifically which put many people off. I think I wanted to represent the concepts of space in a more entry-level way, aiming to draw people in on a new level.