Saturday, 10 October 2009

Using animation to tell a news story

No, I'm honestly not suggesting a return to those horrible stilted avatars reading the news headlines, but I do like the idea of using some animation to bring a reader into a story - particularly if the story is the latest in a long running saga and a handy recap of the tale-to-date would be useful.

I made my first cartoon using Xtranormal today; I know it's a site usually used for making training and presentation tools, but I was interested in whether it might work for journalists.
It took me about an hour and I had a lot of fun doing it. As the clip embedded here explains, I chose an avatar (there's everything from corporate to robot avatars available but I fancied having blue hair) and gave it a voice (she's really plummy unfortunately) then started adding animations.

The script is translated to audio, and it does sound stilted, although when I played around with some of the words and punctuation it improved. I think if I'd spent more time on it I could have got it to flow better.
So I know it's not Toy Story but it does the job, and I was more interested in seeing how efficiently it worked, and how long it took to put together, than the style and content.

Anyway, it made me think: why shouldn't we incorporate more animation in our websites? I don't mean some 'toon cat informing us of a moider in a local suburb, I'm thinking more about the options to introduce some fun back into what we do, and what we provide for our audience.
I'd love to see reporters being given time to make multimedia content - soundslides, cartoon, blogging, timelines, wordclouds - to compliment the words they have to churn out every day.



So, this is my first cartoon, made for free on a free site which offers paying customers more characters, audio, sets and other options.
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