_going out on a limb


Midday, sometime during our July heatwave in a beautiful barn in Somerset.

The only brief was that there was no brief.

"Okay then," I thought, biting my lip and scratching a not-itchy head, gazing at the over-heated cows out of the window.

At first, an open brief is totally exciting – a whole universe of possibility! Then within minutes paralysis sets in, in a strange parabolic curve where increase in creative freedom links to a decrease in ability to narrow down an eternity of all the ideas that could ever be. Know how that feels?

I just figured that you have to be prepared to go out on a limb for anything extraordinary to happen.

"Do not be afraid to go out on a limb; that's where the fruit is."


So I let this encouragement flow, and set to work on a short film based on these very words. I think I found fruit here.

Okay, so here's how it happened:

When the team at Sparkol invited me to get involved with their adventures in Videoscribe, it was really about coming up with anything I wanted that would explore new horizons with their software and how far it could go.

After a little panic and a lot of scribbling, the words of this proverb seemed so apt. I decided to concentrate on making a beautiful typographic piece as an encouragement for all of us ideas-filled adventurers, and which would stand as a lovely piece of cinematic movement too.

One of the great things about Videoscribe is that it mesmerises you as you anticipate a line appearing, not knowing which way it will go next. That's what adventure and risk-taking is all about – following a line, not sure where it will take you but convinced it's worth it.

So I wanted to really push Videoscribe and my use of Illustrator with it - which is really the core of Sparkol's technique. There are technical tricks I've learnt over nearly 20 years in the industry that I wanted to try, some of which were in Illustrator, and after hours of crafting my Scribe I also exported it into After Effects and pushed some depth into it through layering. You can achieve an awful lot by doing this, introducing photographic stills for texture, and playing with all the settings and various layer modes. If this is your bag, just open it up and get stuck in! Don't be afraid to really mess around. That's how I've discovered lots of ridiculous nerdy tricks. (Hard fought, precious personal wins after a years as a young designer at the BBC, holed up in a small, dark edit suite!)

Talking of going out on a limb though, this project has been a neat opportunity to celebrate some of what Jon and his Sparkol team have achieved and push it to new heights. They are trying new things out all the time, with the motive of making this type of visual communication accessible to everyone regardless of illustration experience.

I like this very much, because they make good communication between humans more possible.

Now that's fruit.

How about you? Have you ever gone out on a limb to create something to encourage people or get them communicating?


(If you have more questions about how the film was made please submit them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer. You may like to see some short films on Videoscribe's YouTube channel too.)