Friday, 9 December 2016

Discovering Deeds...and the Magic of PowerPoint for animation!

Miranda Lennon is working on a one year traineeship as part of The National Archives Transforming Archives scheme. In this blog she gives an update of her experience so far.

For the past few weeks I have been working on Cheshire Archives and Local Studies’ ‘Explore Your Archive’ campaign…my labour of love!

This project has been a big learning curve for me. It has been a real pleasure to have the creative freedom to express my ideas, and I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to utilise and develop my existing skills in art, design and I.T.  

The project brief was to create a campaign to promote Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, with a focus on the medieval deeds collection. The campaign needed to appeal to a wide audience and its purpose was to ‘Bring archives alive, inspire others’. One particular sentence in the brief stood out to me; ‘Build a story or a picture in their mind, evoke a sense of journey’.  When reading this my immediate thoughts were that there was potential to make a creative visual impact. I wanted to contribute my creative design skills to create something unique and inspiring.

The next step in the project was to gather my thoughts and to come up with some possible outcomes for the campaign. After much deliberation I decided to run with the idea of making a creative animation (at this point I hadn’t the faintest idea how to create an animation!).  I wanted to relish the opportunity to learn as much as I could, whilst making the most of the creative freedom which I had been granted!

I began by creating a rough idea for a story and then breaking this down into a storyboard for each scene. 

Storyboard showing rough slide ideas, created on PowerPoint

I pondered methods I could use for creating the animation. I was thinking that I would quite like to do something with old fashioned charm, inspired by the enchanting charm captured in many of the original stop motion animations; by pioneers like Lotte Reiniger (many of her animations are available on YouTube and the BFI Player).

I decided I would use PowerPoint due to the limited software available to me, and I ascertained that using PowerPoint software would be less time consuming than the more traditional stop motion methods involving using a camera.

I began the process by hand drawing images for my animation. I scanned the images and edited them in Photoshop to ensure the lines were visible and defined. I also used some existing images, which I edited in Photoshop.

Scan of original sketch

I used the ‘Quick Selection Tool’ followed by ‘Refine Edge’ in Photoshop to cut out the images. I then saved the images into a ‘Save for Web’ format which deletes any white background by isolating the image. 

I inserted the images into PowerPoint slides and added animation effects to each image. I experimented with the selection of animation effects available, including ‘Entrance’, ‘Exit’, ‘Emphasis’ and ‘Motion’ effects. It is all about experimentation and timing when working in PowerPoint! You can also layer up different effects; for example I layered a slow ‘Teeter’ and ‘Fly In’ to make the characters ‘wobble’ into each scene. I used the ‘Brush Colour’ effect at a slow speed to make the text appear gradually, as if the hand was writing it. 

PowerPoint work in progress showing 'Animation Pane'

The PowerPoint possibilities are endless..!

My animation ‘Discovering Deeds’ is now available on YouTube for your viewing pleasure!

I sincerely hope it fulfills its purpose by educating, entertaining and inspiring!