The marketing team for the Psychology department at the University of Reading has asked for an animated video that highlights a less known course called Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner. The aim of this video is to educate the wider audience about the role, requirements and nature of work as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner as well as promote the course offered at the university.
Although the initial aim for this project was to produce two animated videos, throughout the timeline the client changed the deliverables to one animated video which would outline the role, requirements and qualifications of a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner. The aim of the produced video was not only to promote the courses taught at the University of Reading, but also to genuinely inform and to be useful to the students and the individuals interested in this as a career. Moreover, the identity of the deliverable had to comply with the identified visual style of the university; the typeface, colours and logo. The animated video would also feature a voiceover of a recent graduate from the University of Reading, guiding the audience through essential information for a career in Psychological Wellbeing and expressing her experience.
Restating the brief
After our first meeting with the client, where we covered important points about the designing process such as expectations and visual perception of the deliverables, an appropriate way of communication and more, we moved on to writing the restated brief. Coming up with a schedule to stick to was challenging for the team as we had previously considered a different set of deliverables, however, we were able to come up with a realistic timescale after meeting with the client again to clear up any confusions we had.
Communication within the team and the client
As a small team of two, we did not face any difficulties throughout the designing stage. We discussed a preferred communication style and made sure to work effectively as a team, exchange and combine ideas for a more successful outcome. However, we have faced several challenges with regards to communicating with the client. Throughout the process of creating the animation video, our client has changed and their team expanded. As a result, we established new communication methods with the client and changed, from contacting one person to a team. An important aspect in ensuring the success of this transition was taking the new client’s input and opinion into consideration and understanding their position as they joined at a later stage. We were open to discussing the concept again and revisiting the storyboard to ensure the new client was convinced with the decisions we have made.
Understanding the audience
In order to understand the script provided by the client and be able to create a sensible video, we had to do a thorough research on careers in psychology as well as competitors in terms of the animated videos. We were looking at how other animated videos communicate complex ideas visually, the illustration style and overall how the frames changed throughout the video. It was also important to understand the users and their motivations for watching the video. This research helped us to start off the project as it educated us enough that we felt comfortable discussing with the client possible ways we could arrange ideas, and appropriate illustrations.
We have divided the roles for this real job based upon the strengths of each member and the skills they would like to improve. The team has collaborated in the initial stages; research, developing the storyboard, and exploring illustration styles. Afterwards, Yana’s main role was illustration while Lamar’s was animation. However, the work was still developed jointly, as Lamar would often edit and create illustrations while Yana would help improve animation and give useful feedback on transition, movement and timing. Overall, the team has collaborated throughout the design process and communicated effectively to produce an animated video that would meet the client’s vision and expectations.
The start of the design for the animated video began with the creation of a storyboard which allowed us to express our creativeness and exchange and combine our ideas as a team. We approached this step with the thought that it would be better for each of us to come up with our own storyboard. As a result, we were able to reach more effective creative design solutions by collaborating and discussing different ways to approach every scene. The team did not face any difficulties at this stage as we were passionate about combining our unique ideas to create an interesting and entertaining video for the viewers.
After understanding the client’s vision for the illustration style, we began the exploration by creating two illustration styles as we were working in a team of two. We had to arrange a meeting with our supervisor to discuss and decide which illustration style would be more appropriate for the animated video and compatible with the university style. The main difference between the two illustration styles was the central character Libby, which would appear throughout the whole animated video as she guides the viewer. While working on the illustrations, we had to ensure that the different objects illustrated fit into one illustration style and compliment the voice recording.
Designing the illustrations
After agreeing on the illustration style and developing a sense of how the illustrations would look in the animated video, Yana started creating illustrations for each frame based upon the storyboard. As we were working in a team, we would often arrange meetings to discuss the illustrations together and both members had a part in creating and touching up the created illustrations. Being in a team allowed us to exchange interesting ideas, notice areas for improvement and learn from each other’s illustration skills which helped us to reach a more successful outcome.
This project has allowed us to enhance our Illustrator skills as the focus was on creating an illustration style suitable for the type of content and the narrative. Throughout the project, we have spent a lot of time exploring the software and designing the elements in a professional way which could allow us to easily create transitions and movement on After Effects.
Designing the animation
Editing and creating illustrations was done concurrently to animating as the client often requested changes and edits were applied to the voice over. Creating the animation required learning multiple new skills and tools, however, having developed a storyboard and having a clear vision of the style of animation has helped the progression of the project. We have explored multiple methods and tools to create a desired movement or transition, and discussed potentials for making every frame more interesting. Since the video is considerably long, we have worked to create variation in the frames through composition, type of movement and transitions. Accordingly, during a meeting with our supervisor, she has expressed that “despite the video being over four minutes, the animation has kept me interested.”
Along with animation, Lamar has worked to ensure that the illustration files were ready to import into Adobe After Effects. Organization and naming of layers has proved to make the process faster and easier. This was an important aspect that enriched the team’s understanding of working with animators and editors which is helpful for future collaborations.
Searching and deciding upon the background music was a new experience for us as a team. We were able to learn about the process of purchasing licenses for music through our research as well as help from James. The main platform that proved most convenient was Adobe Stock. This has led to a discussion with the client about their budget for music. Presenting the animated video with the three potential background music was a convincing way to get our client to agree to purchase the license for the music.
Before presenting to the client, we arranged a meeting with our supervisor to discuss and decide on the most appropriate background music that matched the flow of the animated video, the illustration style and overall the concept of the project. We were advised to look further so we had to go back and research more options so we had several meetings with our supervisor before choosing the final three potential background music which would go on the animated video. Obtaining feedback on this aspect was very beneficial and helpful for us as it made us notice the tone of the music and how it complemented or disrupted the voiceover. At the end of the project, we reflected on how this new experience has benefited us as we had never worked on a job quite like this before.
Working on this real job was an intriguing and fun experience which helped us to improve our skill set as graphic designers as well as enhance our teamwork and communication skills. This project was a very beneficial experience for the team as we were able to develop new software skills and create a consistent illustration style appropriate for the video. Obtaining feedback from our supervisor and the constant interaction with our client really helped us with design decisions and improvements. With the provided guidance towards more effective design solutions, we were finally able to reach an efficient design that meets the client’s needs and represents the university style well. In addition, the team has gained essential working experience with real clients which definitely helped us to feel more comfortable discussing our work and how we could approach certain ideas.
“This real job has allowed me to improve my skill set as a graphic designer as well as to enhance my communication abilities within a team and with the client. I really enjoyed working in a team with Lamar and I believe that by exchanging and combining our ideas we were able to reach a professional outcome for this project which we were really excited to present to our client.”
“This real job has been an incredible learning curve. It has helped me improve many design and communication skills that I plan to utilize in the professional world. Despite the many challenges that we have faced, I believe working as a team and dividing the work has contributed to an interesting animated video.”
Written and produced by Lamar Kaki and Yana Stoyanova as a part of the University of Reading’s Typography and Graphic Communication’s Real jobs project.