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Animating Parliament

There are many techniques for animating and a range of different programs to create specific effects. In this post I'm going to share some of the methods that have worked for Parliament and our online audiences this year. Helpful for anyone thinking of experimenting with animation.

How to animate

A really popular technique for showing moving messages is straightforward 2D animation using Adobe After Effects. This may have something to do with the tool's ease of use and availability.

There are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube to help you get to grips with this technique, as well as Adobe's own guide to After Effects. The program is also widely known to most video editors due to its compatibility with Adobe Premiere, the most commonly used video editing program.

The content team have created a variety of animations for Parliament since I joined in December 2016 using 2D animation. The first was a gif to celebrate the start of 2017. I created it in After Effects, exported as a video, and then converted to an animated gif in Adobe Photoshop.

Although the brief was originally to create the animation for Twitter, when it performed well there we ended up re-using it across multiple channels. The animation's simplicity appealed to a broad audience and the gif was viewed more than 15,000 times on our Facebook page and over 1,000 times on Instagram.

Animation simplifies complexity

Another animation explained, in simple terms, the complicated process of leaving the EU following the triggering of Article 50. After identifying a clear user need for an animation on this topic, we created it really quickly using After Effects and posted it on social media. Immediately there was a lot of interest in the animation.

The Danish Parliament even wanted to translate it for their own social media channels. The video was viewed over 38,000 times on Twitter, 36,000 on Facebook, 1,000 on Instagram and 6,000 on YouTube. You can take a look at the animation on YouTube.

Speaking to colleagues

We're building a new website for Parliament so we created a video to explain the work PDS is doing. The video benefitted from being created over a longer time period and in close conjunction with content designers who helped write the script.

I did the voiceover myself (by the way, never listen to your recorded voice, it’s so jarring!). The video was well received within Parliament and was posted to this blog as well as YouTube, where it's been viewed nearly 2,500 times. Why not take a look yourself and let us know what you think in the comments below?

Reaching out to younger audiences

To reach out to the 18-25 demographic during the 2017 election, we created a variety of animations and graphics for the House of Commons' Twitter and Facebook channels. UK Parliament’s Instagram also posted the videos.

They were highly successful in terms of engagement. The original tweet was retweeted over 1,500 times, with 538 likes and 21 comments, making it the best performing tweet for the House of Commons this year, so far.

Avoid those awkward moments

What do you do when you want to communicate via an engaging, interesting video but you simply don't have access to a suitable spokesperson who's trained to speak to camera? Well, this is where animation comes in handy.

There's no need to force an awkward colleague in front of the lens or invest in acting lessons for your director. You can communicate the same information effectively using graphics and a voiceover appropriate for your specific audience.

If you think your users need a video and are considering going down the animation route, contact me by email. I’ll be happy to discuss your needs and advise on the best next steps for your vision.

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