In a project we called Reaching for the Stars, BWD set itself the following challenge: use animation to help us tell our own story – in less than two minutes.
The first step was to map out a meaningful narrative structure and emotional arc. This meant coming up with a light and humorous story as a metaphor for our ‘client journey’. So our brainstorming process began like this:
Bauhaus design – popular in Germany between the two world wars – was the source of our visual inspiration. As such, we kept our design minimal and placed the emphasis on the geometric relationship of shapes.
This would also allow the audience to focus on the emotions of, and relationship between, our characters.
As you’ll see from the image above, we had four subtly different ideas for the design of our character. After seeking views from around the studio, the bottom right design was voted as our lead character for its simplicity and positivity.
We called her Lucy.
Next, we decided what Lucy’s mentor should look like. Lucy was bouncy, excitable and flexible, so we wanted her mentor’s personality to be sturdy, wise, and calm. For this reason, we chose a more stable, thick line to depict this character.
A storyboard is the perfect way to visualise story development, character relationships and pacing. The one above helped us initially visualise Lucy’s story.
Finally, we stylised the animated world for Lucy and her mentor. This was done by concentrating on the cinematic mood and depth of field so as to immerse the audience in the animated world.
Next came the animatic, or animated story board. This stage helps animators decide if the story and idea is working. After seeing how each scene connected, we made further adjustments to timing, pacing, character interactions and the look and feel of scene settings.
With our animated world now created, we turned our attention to the sound design. The mood of the visual design was contemporary with a slightly retro feel. It was also surreal, with a touch of humour. So we gave each character a different instrument tone. Lucy’s sound was lighter; her mentor’s deeper. A base soundtrack also helped develop the overarching mood.
But we weren’t quite finished. The introductory title was obviously the first thing audiences were going to see. So it needed to give a taste of the story to come.
The credits ease the viewer’s mind from an animated world back to reality. They also neatly end the story and its emotional arc.
And here’s the finished result:
Animation can be time consuming. But it’s often better value-for-money than a film shoot, which requires hiring locations, actors, producers, videographers and equipment.
Animation is also a way of transporting an audience into the world of emotions. And emotions, after all, are what client relationships are all about. The best are based on trust, reassurance, confidence, inspiration and enthusiasm.
That’s a powerful mix, and something we offer at BWD. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to learn more.
By Melody Li
Melody Li is BWD’s Visual Storyteller and Motion Designer. She also teaches a course called Animated Worlds at UNSW.