Project Spotlight: The Evolution-Health Connection—Animations for New York Hall of Science


Post written by Director of Art & Animation, Bob Flynn

In October of 2012, Jeff Kennedy Associates came to us with a project to teach about the evolution of various health conditions for an exhibit at the New York Hall of Science.  Jeff Kennedy Associates came to us with four scripts that had already made it through scientific approval from the people at the New York Hall of Science. Our task was to bring life to the scripts, through our designs and animation. Everyone said they wanted these to be educational, but definitely silly and entertaining. We love that kind of challenge.

Over the past few years, FableVision has become increasingly interested in the connection between education, science, and technology. Through projects like the New England Aquarium’s Biomimicry App, we have been able to combine our media expertise with our love of education to create both fun and interactive educational experiences! With the help of Jeff Kennedy Associates, who we've previously worked with on a series of animations for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, our company has managed to successfully launch the Evolution-Health Connection exhibit, which discusses the relationships between evolution and modern-day health issues, including back pain, sun burns, lactose intolerance, and obesity. The project is scheduled to appear at the New York Hall of Science later this year.

From the start of the project, everyone was throwing around the word “cartoony,” which is always music to my ears. Whenever we take on an animation project at FableVision, I really consider a visual style that I would like to explore—which is usually an extension of design styles I normally work in. In these animations I tried to push shape and color—using an economy of line. The backgrounds are flat and sparse—with no texture. So, those were the constraints I set.

Here are some sample frames from the animation.

Then it was on to storyboarding. We've been using new software at FableVision, Storyboard Pro, which truly made boarding these out a breeze. And I could get into way more detail, framing out a lot of the key poses so that when I gave my layouts and designs to Hannah O’Neal, she had a lot more to go on for animation direction. And she totally nailed these, especially Back Pain—that one came out exactly as I envisioned when I was boarding it. The project was drawn and animated completely in Flash (CS3, if you're curious).

Here's a sample storyboard sequence.

While I led the effort on storyboarding, design, layout, and backgrounds, Hannah O'Neal was busy animating each of the four segments, alongside Taryn Johnson, who worked on the animatics, and was produced by Paul Mock. I'm really proud of our collaboration with our client, Jeff Kennedy Associates. I think the animations balance what we always strive for at FableVision, teaching through storytelling with just the right amount of humor.

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