2D Animated Explainer
An energetic pitch trailer for a documentary about the fast-accelerating problem of global plastic pollution.
Plastic pollution is a much publicised phenomenon – and no doubt countless animated explainers have been created about the topic. The guiding principle behind this explainer – and the wider documentary film in general – was to offer a profoundly different approach to the depressing topic, employing humour and dynamic visuals as opposed to the more traditional “turtle choking on a straw” angle.
Coming in at just under 3 minutes, this 2D animated explainer was a sizable project – from scripting, to illustrating, to finally animating – there were several steps to getting this to a completed state.
To function effectively as a pitch trailer for a larger documentary project, it had to be worked out what we wanted to say and how we wanted to say it. Working with Julian, the documentary’s director, we spent a good chunk of time writing and perfecting a script so that it would not only be successful in explaining what the documentary was about, but also work as a piece of entertainment in its own right.
It felt like I was drawing out scenes and characters for an eternity – but looking back it turns out it was just a week or two. For the opening polluted city scene I wanted the architecture and colours to feel a bit uncanny – I remember I was influenced by the art direction of Samurai Jack. The show is about a samurai who is sent a great distance into the future – and lots of the future cityscapes feature very angular, hostile textures and layouts that I felt would lend well to a plastic-polluted wasteland.
As the 2D animated explainer progresses, the art style becomes much more cartoony in nature as the tone transforms from one of doom and gloom to light-hearted humour.
Looking back with an ever-critical eye, I’d say more work could have been done to maintain a consistent art style – while it does start with a pretty distinctive look, it feels like it gets lost as the video progresses.
Once the illustrations had all been completed it was time to get them moving – starting with a rough storyboard that would give an idea of timings and pace, and eventually solidifying the storyboard into full-blown animation by essentially filling in the gaps between key frames.
Still created at the dawn of my understanding of 2D animation, lots of the animation work feels a bit wooden and linear. That being send, I’m very fond of the pacing and seamless nature of the transitions – each scene weaves nicely into the next.
This project taught me a huge amount about animating within After Effects – and I feel my more recent work is of a far higher standard in large part because of this and my other early projects.
There’s a whole page dedicated to the actual documentary film on the dark side of this website – see if you can make any sense of it.