Screen-Based Communication Brief 2012:
For this project, we were asked to create an animation that lasts around thirty to sixty seconds depicting a fact that was given to us at random. My fact was: ‘Which countries spend the most propping up their banks?’ (source Guardian). The figures given to me on the article were all about Gross Domestic Product (how much a country earns through both products and services in a year) as a percentage of their bailouts; I did feel however, that these facts were somewhat complicated, great from an economics graduate point of view, but for the masses watching a thirty second clip they are a bit unnecessarily complicated.
I had always been interested in representing the scale of the 2009 banking catastrophe, these things are really hard hitting when put into perspective. We can see for example that the USA spend $28trillion on bailing their banks out, this figure can just be digested by the viewer as ‘a lot of money’; when told that this figure is fourteen times the size of Africa’s entire debt to the West we start to get an image of how much money we are dealing with here.
To get some inspiration for this infographics unit I dived headfirst into Information is Beautiful (by David McCandless) where I found a double page spread on the billions of dollars that we spend globally – aptly named the ‘Billion-Dollar-O-Gram’. This double page spread had the figures that we had spent globally on bailing out our banks, this information was a lot easier to digest than the Guardian article on GDP; from here I spring-boarded into storyboarding and eventually After Effects - despite never using this software before!
I found the foundations of my idea fairly early on in the timeframe that we had for this unit - since then it was a case of taking my basic draft and using the advice that I’d get every week on how to change it to make it into a finished animation. Throughout the project, I was very stern about keeping the art-style very generic; this was so nothing subtracted interest from the large numbers that the animation was really about. The same went for music and sound effects, I wanted to keep everything generic and simple to put the scale of the financial crisis into perspective without the viewer being distracted. The typefaces also were fairly plain, but done in a way that the numbers below the caption were a bold typeface to accentuate the amount of money that was dealt out.
In conclusion of the project, I really feel that I produced an animation that is successful in its task: to communicate the scale of the financial crisis in 2009 to the viewer, and put a perspective on the numbers that on face value are simply seen as ‘a lot of money’. I’ve produced a piece of work that I’m proud of, and I think that the colour scheme, characters and timings all work well. If I was to redo this project, I would perhaps focus more on Africa’s debt to the West as the message behind the piece; it was a nice touch at the end but perhaps could have been more integrated within the overall message of the piece and the final thought at the end. On top of this, maybe a few flips, fades and pans might not have gone a miss in the animation to break up the constant scaling of the figures and to keep the viewers surprised. As the next unit is the final practical unit this year, I’m going to push my work harder than ever, and go out of first year with a bang!