VisCom4Dev

Zemni Animation: Experimental portfolio

Experimental textless animations exploring different visual moving image styles and workflows to ‘creatively translate’ community voices from participatory workshops for global audiences.

Drafts and animatics for assessment September 2021

1: ‘Mary’s Story’, Uganda
‘Mother of Africa’ Mary’s endless cycle of disempowerment, overwork and lack of property rights and unhappiness in a polygamous marriage. Animation from community drawings and sketches from role play and contextual photos. Draft Animatic January 2021.
2: ‘Tupa Tupa’, DRCongo
‘What Happened to the Coffee Money?‘: how men’s actions and behaviour leads to wastage of coffee income, land mortgage and all benefits end end up in the hands of lawyers and police. Animation from photographs of role plays by women and men farmers in a Fair Trade cooperative. Based on men and women’s role plays
3: Pig Lament, India
‘Poverty is no picnic’: tribal Santhal women from West Bengal tell the story of broken dreams of making money and owning shops because of realities of pig business.t Bengal
4: The Airplane, Pakistan
Disintegration of Dreams: story of women and men in Pakistan, their visions for empowerment – including flying in a airplane – and disintegration into violence.

About VisCom4Dev

VisCom4Dev presents visual research and sources of inspiration in evolution of my animation style as ‘creative translator’ of community voices. Focusing on drawings, photographs and video from participatory community workshops on strategies for empowerment, gender justice and livelihood development in Africa (Uganda, DRCongo) and Asia (India, Pakistan) these animations aim:

  • to be visually driven so that they can be globally understood without relying on text or spoken languages, and thereby needing translation into hundreds of local languages.
  • communicate not only the style but also the meaning of the original sources.
  • be interesting to a range of audiences – including people who cannot read and write as well as international audiences with high levels of formal education and access to global visual cultures.
  • workable for an independent animator like myself who does not have the support of a large design or animation team and/or budget. And importantly for me to be RSI-friendly.

At the beginning of this research I was relatively new to animation, seeing this research project as a way of developing new skills useful for communication of development stories. My initial idea was to focus on frame by frame line animation of community drawings using Adobe Animate, experimenting with narrative sequencing.

But following my initial a ‘bricolage’ research process I discovered a much more diverse range of contemporary animation and moving image approaches combining digital and physical media – in particular 2D frame by frame animation, rotoscoping, puppet and cut out animation and integrating photography and video. Diversifying and combining narrative and visual approaches not only enables grounding of constructed narratives within a ‘real’ context, but also provides ways of matching the media and style more closely to original meaning. At the same time my research identified some cross-cutting visual communication principles and strategies that are generally necessary to guide creative experimentation.

It is hoped that the blog will provide inspiration to others to also experiment more widely with different creative approaches in their work. As well as presenting potential styles and directions that my own future visual communication and creative translation work might take.

Life Realities vs Visual Magic?


Creative animation of community voices
for a global audience

Written research dissertation

Made with Padlet
Sister blogs and related courses

This blog is the product of my work for Open College of the Arts (OCA) BA degree level 3 ‘Visual Research’, guided by Dr Emma Powell and based on OCA coursebook: Emma Powell 2015 ‘Visual Research’.

As my research progressed it soon became obvious that if I was to be serious about animation, I would need to take other practical courses in order to develop my practical skills – even for my initial ideas on 2D frame by frame line animation.

This VisCom4Dev blog complements and synthesises relevant personal development (non-degree) work for:

A14 Road Bridge 1 Power Queen 7 LR Colour Grunge profile correction.
Documentary moving image, animation and slideshows for Visual Communications Advanced Practice degree module.
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Experimental Moving Image work for OCA Moving Image 1: animation personal development (non-degree) module.
Acknowledgements

I am indebted to support and advice from:

  • my OCA tutor Dr Emma Powell for her encouragement and suggestions throughout this research.
  • inspiration and technical suggestions from Howard Wimshurst Animator Guild on-line practical animation course. helped me develop my skills particularly on 2D frame by frame animation in TVPaint. Howard and also introduced me to some new approaches to narrative and representation of movement. I also was also motivated and inspired by my fellow students on the Discord group who also gave me valuable feedback.
  • Ruth Maclennan who tutored my personal development work for OCA Moving Image 1 Animation module. This introduced me to stop motion animation, some of the underlying animation principles and sources of inspiration that informed my research here.
  • feedback from colleagues in development agencies and communities (more details here as feedback progresses post-COVID in summer 2021)