The war in Syria and other global crises in recent years have shifted the focus of the media and world leaders’ to the difficulties faced by refugees and migrants. Largely unnoticed, however, is the plight of 40 million people forcibly displaced within borders across the globe. These internally displaced persons (IDPs) are often among the world’s most vulnerable people, stripped of their rights and lacking the basic protections afforded to refugees.
This was a solo project I worked on from the beginning phases of ideation to production while working at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). After I graduated from my Masters in Motion Graphics the team invested time in this experimental project enabling me to use new skills for the organization. I was responsible for all the production: working on the concept and branding, the script, storyboard, illustrations, animations and voice-over recording, as well as sound editing.
1 x illustrator
1 x motion designer
1 x project manager
1 x editor
2 x voice over artists
A creative and inspiring animation is always a good way of attracting people’s attention and a proven method of informing audiences quickly and efficiently. But behind what can look like a simple animation or video, is a huge amount of time and effort to make that piece an unforgettable one. When planning such a complex project establishing an accurate and strict process of video production, such as the principles below, is key to achieving the best possible results.
- Planning, Research, and Inspiration: Define the target audience, market research, timing, planning, mood board, and inspiration.
- Pre-production: Concept, scriptwriting, storyboarding, style frames.
- Production: Illustration and animation.
- Post-production: video editing, sound editing, music, voice-over, etc.
To start, I created a mood board to help envision the direction of the project. A mood board is always helpful as it allows everyone involved in the project to agree on a creative and visual direction before work really begins.
At the start of the pre-production phase, I created a campaign logo and worked on the concept of the animation. Following our Key Messages and in recognition of the situation IDPs are facing, we decided to name the project “Invisible Citizens”, which would conceptualize the whole campaign, symbolizing the lack of attention and coverage IDPs face worldwide and how this situation affects their basic protection and human rights.
With the storyboard built and the style frames approved, it was time to move on with the illustration process. Once the illustrations were all agreed upon and every illustration in the footage was accomplished hi-res according to the approved style, it was time to polish all the details and prepare all the files for the motion stage. This is one of the most complex processes of the production of an animated piece, as it involves visually landing most of the ideas you had in your mind. Sometimes it is possible, sometimes not, sometimes it doesn’t look as you expected and sometimes looks even better. The animation process is about finding the balance between all these things, and solving unexpected problems on the go as they spontaneously emerge.
I thoroughly check the animation when completed, and especially focus on the required timing and harmonic combination with the voice-over. It is key to add sound effects, which help the viewer to connect in the fastest way to the context, situation, and whereabouts of the action described.
This is one of the projects I have enjoyed the most during my professional career. Although in hindsight I am aware that it can be improved in many ways, I enjoyed leading such a complex project from concept to post-production and the experience has provided me with a wider knowledge of what an animation piece needs in every single stage. This project also proved the benefits of one person having both illustration and motion designers experience. I also learnt that cohesion and meticulous teamwork on all the details and assets from the earliest stages of the creative process make the workflow dynamic and productive, and the result, a better one.
The story takes place in very different locations, and my aim was to have smooth graphic transitions to connect every scene, to have a solid structure and manage to keep the viewer connected to the story.
This piece shows how I can handle various tasks and envision a motion project from concept to production. If I were to begin again, to assure better quality, I would involve more people, including an editor to write the script, extra hands to help me with the illustration and animation processes, and voice-over professionals, which would have converted the product into a detailed, technically polished, and meticulous one.