What on earth is an Animated Motion Infographic – or customised Video Explainer – in the murky world of content creation? A few thoughts from a former BBC TV News Journo..
In an increasingly visual world translating raw data or complex ideas into meaningful narrative based content is key to achieving reach and impact. Humans respond to words, visions and ideas that are relatable but how do you translate complex ideas into compelling content? How do you make the viewer care whilst still retain authority? Let’s face it a lot of content is posted on the net for content sake so engagement is a issue. As we are bombarded with data and facts data visualisation has becoming a growing field, but it can be so much more powerful than a bunch of colourful graphics.
Back in my television news days the rule of thumb was “if you can’t see it then don’t say it”. So complex ideas with no “real world” video were delivered with graphics. For instance, health data, tech ideas, policy ideas or legislation was captured in bar charts, bullet points and the like. It was not surprising that it often lost the human connection, despite the highly talented graphic design teams working to tight deadlines with the available technology. But things have moved on…
A few years ago, whilst studying for a Masters and as I planned to exit the BBC I was bowled over to discover this video explainer or motion infographic from the International Committee of the Red Cross explaining the Geneva conventions or the rules of war. It creatively brings to life a complex set of ideas which could not be more relevant than what we are seeing in our news feeds today with coverage of Russia, Ukraine and conflicts across the Middle East and Africa. All of a sudden, the ICRC’s production was able to breathe life and meaning into what some might have otherwise considered to have been a worthy but dense piece of international law. In fact it is about people.
Human stories lie at the heart of data and ideas so as part of a collaboration called The InfoMation project, my former editor Petri Kleynhans and I brushed up on our digital skills to offer storytelling productions through animated motion infographics – the official name for animated video explainers. Our aim was to do so much more than simple data visualisation. Coming from the world of news and current affairs reporting, we both take the content seriously. We were less interested in selling or advertising, more interested in informing and building knowledge Our first project was for a security think tank to try to explain the potential harms of the digital revolution on social media platforms with this production on digital vigilantism. I happened to do the research for that study but the point is that nowadays you create more impact by delivering ideas across a range of communication platforms.
We then used the same techniques to bring to life new legislation aimed at combatting cyber-crime which was used to train prosecutor investigators. The potential applications of this powerful storytelling technique are countless. These types of productions have become a critical tool in explaining the world of tech, for delivering global health and humanitarian stories as well as a device for governments, universities and corporates to convey a vision or build knowledge.
Just like in the days of “old fashioned TV news,” ideas need to be conceptualised, story boarded and turned into a narrative which our highly talented animators can develop into a video explainer. But there is more. A further advantage of a customised animated motion infographic is that it can work over a diverse range of cross cultural settings, there are not the huge costs associated with archived video and these types of productions are data light which means they can be embedded on websites and social media platforms.
As we embark on developing this powerful storytelling tool, we will showcase some of the work we do as well as highlighting some of the best content from others in this field. Watch this space.