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Unit 2.1 Client Project: The National Trust Podcast Animations

For this project I contacted the National Trust with a proposal to create a series of animations to accompany selected audio clips from the National Trust Podcast. These animations would be posted on the Trust's social media in order to make the podcast more accessible to a wider audience as well as help with the current push for online memberships during the restrictions of Covid-19. I believed the podcast really lent itself to a visual format, with its interesting stories that create a lovely sense of place. With accompanied animations these podcasts would be brought to life further, making the listening experience much more immersive for those unable to access the sites.


After getting in contact with Sean Douglas, Senior Producer of the National Trust Podcast, to propose this idea, we decided to select potential episodes that could be accompanied by animations. After a couple days of listening through the podcast, I made this table, detailing the episodes that visually inspired me and the timestamps of those segments within the episodes. I divided these segments into three areas: Tips, Stories and Ambient Descriptions.

From this, we decided on the animated segments that would be completed for this MA Client Project:


43: Patterns and Politics: William Morris at Red House

The inspiration behind William Morris’ Trellis wallpaper

(14:08 - 14:27)


and


48: A Walk Through Ancient Wetlands

The beauty in the large and small at Wicken Fen

(7:52 - 8:05)



 

Below details the process of each animated episode, alongside each other


Red House Development


Reference Materials

Trellis wallpaper print:

This iconic print, produced in 1862 was inspired by Morris’ garden at the Red House.

The first image on the left shows original notes made by Morris when designing the Trellis wallpaper.


The Garden at Red House:

The garden at Red House supplied most of Morris’ inspiration for his work. From Spring through to Summer, the garden is brimming with green teasels, along with Gerbera daisies, cornflowers, and Peruvian lilies, to name a few.


The Red House Wall:

The brick walls of Red House use old English bond brickwork, emphasising its long-standing position in British history.












Colour Palette:

Created using eyedropper tool on images of Red House.


Trellis Brick Wall Teasels











Wicken Fen Development


Reference Materials


Wicken Fen Windpump:

This windpump stands as a symbol in the wetlands of the area’s rich peat-industry past



Sunsets at Wicken Fen:

The wetlands and stark trees glow when the sun melts across the sky, producing stunning sunsets the Fens are so well-known for.



Konik Ponies:

Konik ponies come hand-in-hand with the Fen, grazing on the grasses and helping with the upkeep of vegetation in the wetlands.



Common Blue Butterflies:

Fluttering in the grasses early summer through to autumn these beautifully delicate Common Blues fleck the fields with a buttery blue.



Cuckoos:

In April, the first cuckoos arrive at Wicken Fen, seen flying across the Fen at sunset.


Colour Palette:

Created using eyedropper tool on images of Wicken Fen.


Windpump


Field


Ponies


Sunset


Common Blue Butterfly


Grasses




These Reference Materials were then sent off to the Marketing Communication regional teams along with the first animatic.


First Animatic, Red House:


First Animatic, Wicken Fen:



 

Social Media


With positive feedback for the animatics from the Marcom team for the sites, it was decided the animations would feature on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for Red House and South East, and Wicken Fen and East of England. These 4 accounts would need:


1x 16:9 version of either Red House or Wicken Fen animation for Facebook and Twitter

1x 1:1 version of either Red House or Wicken Fen for Instagram

9:16 versions of either Red House or Wicken Fen for Instagram Stories

- 3x of Red House

- 2x of Wicken Fen


 

Style Tests


I sent off style tests to the team determine a style that would be on-brand with the Trust's identity and that could be used across both the animations for continuity. Between "Charcoal Pencil" and "Belgium Comics Smoother" it was decided the latter would be most suited, with a smooth, cleaner line.


Red House

Charcoal Pencil Belgium Comics Smoother


Wicken Fen

Charcoal Pencil Belgium Comics Smoother


 

After about 2.5 weeks the second animatic was ready:


Second Animatic, Red House


Second Animatic, Wicken Fen

 

Clean-Up


With the team happy with the second animatic I moved to the colouring stage, which took roughly 1 week. During this time I finalised my designs, closely following the Reference Material for each site:


For the Red House animation, I decided to not include the red spots on the sparrow and jay as I thought that when it came to animating them in motion, such random detail being dispersed across the birds as their wings stretched would be disorientating.












I wanted the animals to be recognisable and accurate as I knew a lot of those who support the National Trust would know the areas well. I felt it was important to respect the space I had been given by producing an animation that felt informed and affirming to watch.




As there is such an emphasis on the how beautiful the sunsets are at Wicken Fen, there was a big pressure to relay that in the form of 2D animation. I tried a pinker sunset but it didn't look quite right and, referring back to my reference material, didn't fit the colour palette or reflect the sunset I had seen at Wicken Fen. I chose the 2nd sunset, which was more yellow and blended into the sky. In terms of sky, I tried a lighter sunset but landed on one with a deeper orange gradient as it felt so much richer:



 


Post-Production


Next was the title and credits, sound mixing and compositing.



Title and Credits:

For the titles, I made icons for the sites I was animating:

Red House Wicken Fen


I decided to use the font, Arial, for the title and credits. Researching the National Trust branding I discovered that, along with using their custom typeface, they use Arial, so it seemed appropriate.


The background colour of the title and credits matches the base colour of the trellis design as well as the colour of the grouting of the brick wall at Red House, so the transition between title, animation, and credits was therefore smoother. While this exact colour didn't feature in the animation for Wicken Fen, it is within the gradient of colours and so it seemed fitting to use in both animations, if not only to achieve a standard across animations.


Sound:

Along with the podcast episode recording, I used Creative Commons 0 audio of birdcall, which I made sure was appropriate for the location and time of year, so as to achieve a high level of continuity.


 

Just in time for William Morris' birthday on the 24th March, the animations were done.



Final Animation, Red House (16:9)



Final Animation, Wicken Fen (16:9)



 

Below are the variations I made within this time frame:



Instagram



Instagram Post:



Final Animation, Red House (1:1)


Final Animation, Wicken Fen (1:1)




Instagram Stories compilations:



Final Animation, Red House (9:16)




Final Animation, Wicken Fen (9:16)



Directors Statement:

This project was one of my most exciting to date. My intention was to produce an animation for a charity that invested in the natural environment, and so it was an absolute honour when the National Trust accepted my project proposal to animate segments from their podcast.


The project outcome consisted of two 16:9 animations, accompanying podcasts segments about two respective National Trust sites, Wicken Fen and Red House. These animations were subsequently configured for different social media channels.


The idea behind this project was to visually complement the stories on the National Trust Podcast to bring them to life further, making the listening experience more immersive for those unable to access National Trust locations due to Covid-19. Through posting these animations on the National Trust social media channels, it is my hope that the podcast will become more accessible to a wider audience as well as help with the current push for online memberships.


One of the most important things for me to achieve was to produce a set of animations which reflected the National Trust’s identity. I wanted to create visually rich and gentle animations that emulated each sites’ spirit of place while adhering to the overall style of the Trust’s distinct brand. While primarily frame animation, I greatly developed my skills in motion graphics which added a smooth, professional quality seen in this branding. This being my first individual client project, I was familiarised with production timelines, greatly preparing me for future projects.



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