Friday, 17 August 2012

RSA Animate is Great! What a Way to Present!

I just finished watching an animation about psychology. I watched it with complete and utter attention and retained the points that it made. Here it is:

Now, it turns out that the style of animation used here is called Whiteboard Animation, and RSA, whatever they are, have a whole lot of it. (Well, 16, so far). You can see the videos on the RSA website or on its Youtube channel.

You know, if I were a high school student with a film project or a presentation to do, I'd really throw myself into mastering how to do animations like these. It would lead to very good things.

So, there are various approaches. The simplest is to use a real whiteboard and a real marker along with a normal digital camera. You don't get the hand and marker in the picture, though. Here's how:
 A step up in difficulty gives you the marker and hand. Jeannel King has three blog articles on how she creates these videos professionally. The how-to is here.

The third approach does not actually have a whiteboard at all. Either the hand, the marker, the board, and the drawings are all on Photoshop layers and the animation comes from a screen recorder, or a specialized program like Livescribe Desktop gets used.

A variation on that theme is creating the animation on an iPad.

Now, I use computer graphics clumsily. Anything other than simple cropping and rescaling needs a trip to on-line resources. On the other hand, I think that working to reproduce a good storyboard on a whiteboard could achieve a very good set of pictures that are ready to become a stop-motion animation. That's the next problem to solve. This web page shows how to use free programs such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker to do this. Since I don't have either a Mac nor Windows, I might try typing a few commands into a terminal window to do the job.

Fortunately, the same techniques can be used for more ambitious animations. Check out the sequence with the fruit at around 2:15 in this music video ("Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel) and see if it gives you any ideas.
If you're very, very smart, you might even be able to figure out how to make a video like this one ("Leave It" from the album 90125 by Yes). I believe it is my favourite music video of all time.


  1. Hello Gareth.
    I discovered RSA Animate a couple of years ago; very well done. The three that caught my eye, in particular, were the one about the fallacy of money as a motivator in the creation of imagination, the crisis of capitalism, and Sir Kenneth Robinson's TED talk on how schooling kills imagination and the need to change its paradigm.

    I hadn't thought of creating my own though! I am still struggling with the finding the time to get the 'normal' stuff done. Although I have been playing with creating pod-casts and creating musical accompaniment to poetry readings.

    Thanks for sharing your excitement here; I remember how much RSA excited me when I first stumbled across them.

    PS: Have you seen Sir Kenneth Robinson's TED talk on how school kills imagination? The RSA animate is excellent, but the TED talk is a little longer and better:

    I am supposed to be writing my course 'Banks Skanks', and here I am, endlessly diverted. LoL!

    Be well,


  2. Good luck on your course, Guy. Banks these days illustrate St. Paul's comment "There is no one righteous. No, not one." The Handelsbank seems to be doing well by doing good, though, according to the beeb:

  3. Nice I also share with you something hope this helpful for you my friends Read the literature from each college on what they need to see for your digital portfolio in terms of number of images, file size (memory kb etc.) and image size (pixels) – all will be different so you might not be able to use the same images for all the colleges you’re applying to. Check that you’ve got enough work that sits in each category if they specify how many of each they want to see – for example in research, development, final images, time based work. Check to see how they want to see time based work in your digital portfolio (video, film, animation), do they want stills or can you upload a link to Youtube, Vimeo or similar? Check it out thanks.
    Whiteboard animation

  4. Thanks for the comment, and welcome to my blog. I'm not in university myself, but you gave some good advice for people who are studying graphic arts.