The Realise Charity are a midlands-based charity that help people to overcome barriers to skills, employment and health, and provide targeted support for disadvantaged local communities.

Reels in Motion were approached by the Realise charity to produce a 2-minute character animation that showcases how the charity supports different types of people across Staffordshire, highlighting the core services and support offered. The final animation can be found here, and this blog goes into detail of how to produce a character-based animation and explains the process.

When producing a character-based animation, the design and style development stage of the process is vitally important. Using the example videos the client provided as inspiration, a character style sample was produced (style sample image below). This allowed both Reels and the client to get an initial feel of how the animation was going to look and it also gives the client the opportunity to provide feedback on what they liked or didn’t like in terms of how the characters look, the colours used and the way the characters could move. A script was also produce by Reels to be approved by the client.

With the script and style sample approved, the storyboard stage was able to be started. When storyboarding, especially when using characters, it is a chance for the animator to plan how the characters are going to move within the scene and how they are going to interact with the scene. The basis of this animation was that the character was going from a bad/unhappy scene to a happy/positive scene based on the charities support. This meant that we could plan how much the character needed to move so that we could not only stick to the tight deadline but produce an animation that looked great. The more movement the character needs, the longer this takes to set-up and animate. For this project, the scenes were designed so that most of the movement would be in the background scenes, transitioning from the sad scene to the happy scene and the characters movement would be limited to arm movements to accent the scenes. Such as a character painting the walls using one arm, a character waving and a character doing arm exercises.

In After Effects there are several plug-ins that are used to help speed up the process and make character animations easier, including Duik and Rubberhose (RubberHose Review Here) however; for this animation these weren’t necessary as the main movements for the characters were only in the arms. These movements were done using shape layers for the forearm and shoulder in After Effects and manually keyframing the rotation and position keyframes to create the movements. Using shape layers instead of illustrator files also gives you more control over the style and look of the characters, as well as making it quicker to change things such as colour, strokes and fills. (using an illustrator files means you must go into illustrator, change the colour, save the illustrator file, go back into After Effects and wait for the file to update.)

Overall the final animation is both effective and engaging. It clearly demonstrates how people of different ages, lifestyles and cultures benefit from the Realise charity and showcases the different ways in which the charity offers support to the community. The pace of the animation helps the video flow from one scene to the next, allowing the viewers to remain interested as well as taking in the information.

“Phil and the team took the time to understand our objectives and provided creative concepts at the start to ensure we got the look and feel absolutely perfect. We are delighted with the finished product”. – Rob, Marketing Manager for The Realise Charity.

Reels and the Aspire organisation have also worked together in the past, on several successful projects including “Our Journey – We are Aspire “ and an animated video called “CreatingOurValues” .

If you are thinking about producing a video with us whether that be an animation or live-action, then don’t hesitate to get in touch!