Over a series of four, 3-4 minute videos, we helped our pals over at Tilapia Film teach consultants best practices on how to counsel researchers to craft winning proposals for their research. The videos identify four researcher types, each of whom need special help: the overwhelmed researcher, the researcher who is trying to get away with the bare minimum amount of work, the researcher who is being a bad partner with other stakeholders and the overly ambitious researcher.
Our marching orders were to craft fun and compelling animations that depicted typical interactions between a consultant and these four different researcher archetypes. We needed to keep these animations entertaining but also very simple. And we had to keep the animations simple for a couple of reasons.
First, the animations needed to fit within the broader style of the videos that our clients were tasked to create. And those videos had more of a straightforward but fun, corporate vibe. Second, we needed to make sure that our various characters in the scenarios were diverse without that being a central theme. In other words, it’s a given that we live in a diverse world (i.e. gender, race, etc.) but the videos had to focus on the scenarios themselves. So, after showing our clients a bunch of visual references, our creative brief came down to finding a visual style that was somewhere between Don Hertzfeldt, Cyanide & Happiness and an infographic.
With those references in mind, we created generic male and female character body types. Then, by simply changing hairstyles, we created a whole cast of characters that implied a variety of races. But because race was a secondary issue, we kept the final designs as simple black silhouette outlines over white.
Our clients wanted to ensure consistency from video to video which meant that the backgrounds (sets) for each video needed to look virtually alike. But because we had four different consultants, we changed the main “office” setup by designing a different set of props for each consultant. And because we wanted to make sure the characters popped, we opted to use greyscale color for the sets. Here’s what that all looked like:
We tested a couple of animation techniques in preproduction: straight ahead, frame-by-frame animation and rigged puppets. Here is one of our hand drawn tests. This one was animated on 2s and 3s.
And here is one of our puppet tests we animated with Adobe Animate and AfterEffects:
In the end, our client decided that the line boil would clash with the motion graphics in the rest of the videos and that decision pushed us to animate everything in Adobe Animate and abandon our frame-to-frame approach. By keeping it puppet animation, we also were able to address more notes as the project moved forward.
In the end, we were really happy with the balance we were able to achieve between a funny, indie-animation style and a corporate video style. Check out the full set of videos below and let us know what you think!
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