How can animation be used to help charities?

How can animation be used to help charities?

Whether it’s an emotive piece, life saving info or a music video with a message, animation truly can be used to help charities. A good animation can make the difference between a timely and emotively delivered message that engages with your audience and content which misses the mark – particularly within the world of charity.  These are a few of our top tips on how to use animation to help your cause, before we delve deeper into a few key examples to get your creative charity juices flowing…

  • Tell a surprising story in an abstract way – Use animation to convey a message where words can’t. Or animate the words, play with the environment in an abstract way. Think about how you can show emotion in a different way.
  • Tap into nostalgia and existing formats – Channelling nostalgic content or existing formats, like animated toys, or using a particular style of animation as your inspiration, is a good way to create empathy and connection with your audience.
  • Let the story speak for itself ­– Rather than overcomplicating your animation, in some cases, it’s stronger to keep it paired back and just let the story speak for itself. There’s power in words and animation can help lift them.
  • Look at how sound and animation work together – It doesn’t have to be in music video style for music and sound to elevate your animation. Sound can be used to convey emotion, punctuate certain points and create empathy for the animation.

First Step – Childline

Sometimes, it’s the simplest animations which are the most powerful. A particularly on point example comes in the form of Childline’s moving, typographically led animation ‘First Step’. This remarkably impactful piece by Buck, captures a hard conversation between a child and a counsellor from Childline, as they highlight the importance of children speaking out against sexual abuse.

“Animation can tell a story in an abstract way”

Words and sounds weave together to create a sensitive, emotive soundscape, led by fluctuating types of animation that change and shift with the story. With simple, line text in a bright world to show the support and typography that erratically transforms for the child’s voice, it shows how animation can tell a story in an abstract way, without losing the emotion.

The Chokeables – St John’s Ambulance

Another sure-fire way animation can be used to help charities and communicate key messages, is by tapping into nostalgia and existing formats that your audience will instantly recognise. In this comedic but important piece of content from St John’s Ambulance, they take life-saving advice and tell it through the popular medium of 3D animated toys.

“Tap into nostalgia and existing formats that your audience will instantly recognise”

Finding a format that connects us with our childhood emotions and makes it immediately more understandable and relatable, in this case by doubling up objects that are commonly swallowed by babies as the storytellers, is a clever way of communicating. And, with well-known comic voices to deliver the crucial message, it’s a piece we’re likely to remember.

Community Animation – Macmillan Cancer Support

From combining humour with motion, to an entirely different style of film, Macmillan Cancer Support use sketch animation to tell a real, raw story, in a simple and straightforward way. Using animation to help illustrate the story under the real testimonial of someone who received crucial support from the charity – it’s an example of how animation has the power to convey hard to communicate emotions.

“Animation has the power to convey hard to communicate emotions”

Emotional and honest, with a strong brand feel throughout, the animation transforms a lonely situation into one of hope, comfort and companionship – no longer isolated. By keeping the style stripped back, it lets the words speak for themselves and shows the power of community and what happens when we come together to help each other.

Frances – Refuge

Lastly, Frances’ animated music video in support of domestic abuse charity Refuge shows the power of marrying animation and music to help a cause. Collaborating with Clay Katis, the former head of animation at Walt Disney Studios and South American animation studio Le Cube, singer Frances tells the emotive story of a faded figure, lost in a swirling world.

“The power of marrying animation and music to help a cause”

Needing an escape from the character’s life of domestic abuse, the animation plays with the textures and environments to make her appear invisible, before bringing her into full, animated colour as she finds support and gains her confidence. Finally ending with a real world reveal of the actual person the animation is based on is an incredible example of how the medium creates a tangible connection to a cause and showcase how animation in creative arts can be used for good.

Still frame from Frances' Refuge music video. The main character is walking down a busy street. She can be seen at the edge of the frame, transparent while the rest of the scene is in full colour.

So, how can animation be used to help charities? Whatever your medium, whether it’s impactful typographic animation or fully 3D characters, it can be used to convey a story where words can’t. To communicate isolation or hope and to create empathy with issues that are ordinarily hard to connect with. As a platform for people to speak through, with complete anonymity and champion light, even in the darkest of times. Animation is the ultimate storyteller.

Pebble Studios
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