Sunday, May 25, 2008

Animated Instructors

Recently I completed four really short and simple animations for a training video, and afterwards sent a few questions to the project's director, Joel Lehmann, who kindly took some time out to send the following answers...

Could you describe the project?

This is a tutorial-video which will be shown to school counsellors and counsellors-to-be in Tanzania.

It is comissioned by an initiative called "PASHA" (Prevention and Awareness in Schools of HIV/AIDS) which is a collaboration of the Tanzanian Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and the Tanzanian-German Project for the Support of Health (TGPSH), which is financed by the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and implemented by the Swiss Centre for International Health (SCIH).

The video has two main parts, one about "Communication Skills" (body language, active listening, asking the right questions) and a second part about the five stages of a conselling session. The goal is that the counsellors can see examples of how to apply these skills and just to remind them. I don't think the video can work as a standalone-thing, it needs to be combined with conventional face-to-face teaching.

What motivated the incorporation of animation?
I found an animation ideal to visualize some ideas and especially to bring some variety into the video. I also wanted to try something new. Furthermore the time given for the prodcution of the video was relatively short and the budget relatively low, so that the video without the animation would have been (or maybe still is) a bit dull.
Was it difficult to convince the client to go for the technique?
The client was somewhat sceptical in the beginning, so I guaranteed the payment from my own money. When the client saw the result, they liked the idea and agreed to pay for it.
How was the work experience? (Also, instead of just shooting what you want to and creating your own images you had to entrust a lot of it to someone else, so it was a bit more removed, was it difficult to "let go"?)
The work experience was great. Similar to work with other people (let's say a cameraman or an editor) I realized that it is sometimes difficult to convey an idea completely, so that some re-working is probably normal and necessary. It was not difficult to "let go", I liked the work of the artist a lot.
Do you think it's a successful addition? What if anything would you do differently next time?
It is a succesfull addition without any doubt. Next time? I think I would commission more and longer animations, if the money for it is there.
In general now, do you think that animation is a good technique to deal with documentary/instructional topics?
For instructional topics, it is ideal. For documentaries.... I haven't really thought about it, but I think it is very refreshing. I know the example of Michael Moore using animation to present his view of American history in "Bowling for Columbine" but I have not seen any other animation in documentaries. I hope to be able to try that in the future.
Thanks to Joel for taking the time to answer these questions. Hmm, I wonder if K.I.E (Kenya Institute of Education) would be interested in something new...

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