How To Improve Capitalism

Or at least, here are some ideas on ways that we could change it – I always feel that a video like this works best if it prompts you to at least think about the questions being raised, even if you don’t necessarily agree with all the answers – thinking about these problems (rather than just accepting the status quo) is the first step to finding workable solutions.

This is also the most recent project that I’ve worked on. The client in this case was Alain de Botton – a contact that I picked up through Twitter.

Starting with the script and voiceover provided by Alain, I had a chat with him to go over the project, check what his requirements were, who the intended audience were and so on. I was also able to ask if he had any specific themes or styles in mind for the piece (he liked the Guardian piece that I’d worked on with Alex Purcell, so I went with a similar art style). From there I created all the concepts, worked up the art direction for the piece, built all the art assets in Illustrator, and animated everything in After Effects. Sound design was done by Jonny Elwyn.

One thing that I specifically wanted to avoid was the use of maps when talking about countries – it’s used everywhere (as it’s frequently the shortest distance between information and understanding) but ultimately it’s just not that interesting. I felt the capitalist machine concept, with different countries being represented as machines painted in their respective flags, would work well for the subject matter (and I was able to play around with it a little bit – for example, Sweden has a lot more furniture on it’s conveyor belts).

It was a fun project to work on, as it’s always great when you have a bit of creative freedom. The release into the wilds of the internet has also gone well. At the time of writing, it’s been viewed over ten thousand times on YouTube, with likes far outweighing dislikes (always a good sign!).

Rufus Hound seemed to like it.


But the main thing is that the client was happy with it. It’s always great when you get feedback like this:

“The film is terrific, everything I could have hoped for. You’ve done a fantastic job. Thank you so much.” Alain de Botton

Who Are The Pioneers?

Well – these guys. They’re a new London startup who hired my brother and I to produce a number of short animated films. These films were to use the characters created by the graphic designer who put together their branding, be super-simple 2D in terms of aesthetics, and be relatively light and funny where possible. They’d be providing the scripts, my brother would do the sound design, and I’d do everything else.

The process was straightforward. After receiving the script, I board the film out and those boards are then signed off on by the client. This is usually happening concurrently with the recording, with two or more scripts being recorded on the same day to keep costs down. At that point it’s a matter of creating all the artwork (put together in Illustrator) and doing all the animation (all done in After Effects).

Creating the different characters based off the original designs was fun and an interesting challenge. I think I ended up producing better stuff building off the initial framework than if I’d had to design them myself from scratch.

I’m currently working on the next film and will be updating with that in a week or so. The “Shot A Week” project I’ve been doing will return once I have a bit more time in my schedule.

Digital Tutors

Roughly a month ago I signed up with Digital Tutors – if you’re not familiar with it, it’s an online library of video tutorials, providing training from beginner to advanced across a truly staggering range of software used in the creative industries, as well as videos that cover concepts rather than software how-tos. I’ve been greatly impressed with the quality, and it feels like a very worthwhile investment.

I feel a hugely important part of working in any creative industry, in any role, is to remain humble about your work, to continue to learn and develop new skills – it’s something I love about these industries, and learning is something I thrive on. Thankfully, there’s a vast store of online learning resources out in the wilds of the interwebs now that can provide training in a way that just wasn’t possible ten or twenty years ago. It’s changing the educational model for certain skills in a fascinating way, and access to this sort of training is a critical part of being able to continue developing your own skills – alongside hours and hours of practice, for which there is no substitute in my mind.

There are couple of other websites specifically for After Effects that I wanted to mention with this post as well – and GreyscaleGorilla – both of which are excellent but mostly focus on how-tos for specific effects or techniques. That said, it’s useful for inspiration, and in many cases the effects can be adapted for other uses. VideoCopilot also has a good series of After Effects basics tutorials which can be a good place to start if you’re limited with regards to budget for training materials.