Autonomy & Design
In this solo project I developed, produced, and edited an ‘explanimation’ video using live footage and digital illustration to demonstrate the relationship between autonomy and design to a novice audience.
Role | Solo project, including script writing, concept development, production, animation and editing
Tools | Adobe AfterEffects, Illustrator, Photoshop, pen + paper
Time frame | 2 weeks of concept development & prototyping, 4 days of filming/editing/animating
In many ways, the concept of autonomy was what drew me to design in the first place – everything we interact with mediates autonomy to some degree, and even seemingly small interactions can add up to patterns of empowerment, guidance, control or oppression in larger systems.
After a crash course in Adobe After Effects, I realized that producing any kind of organic or compelling movement was painstakingly slow and difficult to execute beautifully in the short time frame provided. While I understood that the video should be made up of simple shapes and movements, I didn’t want it to be dry, static or boring. In the final week of production I felt dissatisfied with the look and feel of my original video which used hand drawn shapes in black and blocks of yellow color. After some quick concept testing with confetti, play dough and post-its, I made the last minute decision to use live footage of post-its overlaid with digital animation in order to reinstate a sense of personality and texture. The effect turned out much closer to what I wanted – professional and polished but with a sunny disposition.
Script Writing + Production Planning
In order to produce the sticky note scenes, captured footage not only needed to be sped up, but often reversed, to give the illusion that the hands were placing stickys in perfect positions when really they had been pre-planted slowly, covered up with a blanket of sticky’s and then revealed while the camera was rolling. In order to achieve this, most scenes needed to be reverse engineered prior to filming to understand what order of events needed to happen in reverse. You can see how this shows up in the production planning process in the table below by comparing the description of the visual end result of a scene (footage), and a description of what needed to be captured on film in order to achieve that result (capture).
Animation & Editing
The resulting footage was edited using Adobe After Effects. Scene's were created by duplicating takes, reversing the first copy, and placing them back to back, to give the illusion that the perfect positioning of post-its was executed quickly and effortlessly by hand. Illustrations were hand drawn, imported, and animated on top of, and in time with, real-life footage. Timing was achieved by syncing visuals with a draft voice over during editing, and then once complete, the voice over was re-recorded to retroactively match the key movements and ‘beats’ of animations.