Our pack of playful personalities
help to make speaking up less daunting.
This character animation for Health Education England introduces Freedom to Speak Up Guardians to colleagues across the NHS. The challenge was to explain what a FTSU Guardian is and all the ways they might support staff in the workplace. Our 2D characters bring warmth to a sensitive subject.
HEE wanted something amusing and colourful. And early on in development, it was clear that non-human forms would offer the most flexibility and fun. Using humour humanized the complex topic of Speaking Up, and makes the film more memorable.
We developed a minimal style with bold 2D characters. They bring whimsy and humour to the messaging through the subtleties of their character animation. It’s no dark art, eyebrows allow for a lot of expressions. This brought bags of personality. Our designs also avoided true-to-life characters and scenes. This ensured we avoided making light of workplace misconduct, especially as the characters wouldn’t be talking.
Our script focuses on the emotions that people may feel before speaking up, rather than specific medical situations. This helped us make each scene inclusive for all NHS staff, no matter where they work.
The pacing and timing was an essential aspect of the narrative. So once we had created sketch storyboards, we also created an animatic with initial sound design, voiceover and music to show the movement of the whole film.
Then during storyboarding, we created a style frame to show the final look of the film. Here, we experimented with final post-production effects, including texturing and colour grade, to help convey tone and further stylize the overall aesthetic of the animation.
Rigging is a slightly complicated part of animation and one that sits under the hood, so to speak. It’s quite technical because we need to think about how forms move, how the limbs are linked and what the hierarchy between different bones are. At this stage, we are creating the invisible skeleton that connects all the artwork together. That means we can control how each character moves so that they look life-like and natural. Then we can get to making them throw some shapes or throw their computer to the floor.
We had a lot of fun making this animation. It was great to flex our creative character muscles. The film is shared with staff when they first start a new role, so they have a friendly reminder that there’s someone to turn to if things aren’t going right.
The team were over the moon with the end result,
saying it was the “perfect” way to bring FTSUG to life.