The geniuses over in BBC Bitesize approached us to produce three kinetic typography films using songs focussing on key GCSE Literature texts.

The brief for the films was very open so I used each film as an opportunity to explore very different visual styles, try out different techniques and reach to the very back of my creative locker and dust off whatever hobbled out. Very quickly 3 songs became 14, with texts as varied as ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Woman in Black’ and songs ranging from delicate ballads to 80’s style rock it was going to be an adventure.


The Initial Ideas/Pitch

As this project ended up consisting of 14 discreet and different animations I will pick some of my favourites and some key moments in the process to dive into. Here’s an outline of the initial concepts and style direction for some of my favourites:


Jane Eyre [Themes] – For Jane Eyre I felt like she deserved a cute and delicate visual style and I proposed a shadow puppet theatre vibe. The shadow puppets would be made from simple vectors made in Illustrator with long sticks that protruded off screen to be operated by many, many elves. I wanted it to feel handmade and kind of childlike, way to achieve this would be linen overlays, soft edges and try to add personality to the movement of the puppets.

Sign of the Four [Character] – In this film I wanted to evoke the feel of a Victorian newspaper. I thought the key to making this style work would be the blending of the text and the paper texture as well as the overall composition of the page.


Jane Eyre [Characters] – I wanted to mirror the delicate, crafted style used in the Jane Eyre [Themes] animation but progress it from 2D to 3D. I ended up going for what turned out to be a quite ambition concept of a pop up ornate paper art, where simple illustrations would fold out of a floating 3D stage to form beautiful scenes.


BBC motion graphics


Woman in Black [Themes] – I struggled for a visual style for this film and eventually was guided by Mike the company director to a video game called Limbo. This game is a very atmospheric 2D platform game that's style seemed to fit very well with the tone of the song. I proposed (borrow from Limbo) to create a detailed ground plain that a camera could track along and produce a parallax effects with other layers in the background. I also wanted to heavily stylise this film making it high contrast black and white with heavy vignettes and a strong grain. I also wanted to showcase some simple character animation by cutting up the characters in illustrator and then using inverse kinematics courtesy of the DuIK plug-in.

The Process

I will focus on the process of producing the Blood Brothers [Characters] animation. Originally when looking over the brief for this song the main idea that was suggested by the client was a collage style similar to that of the animations featured in Monty Pythons Flying Circus.




I knew that matching this style could be difficult as it used many edited photographs that would be hard to find and expensive to licence. To overcome this problem but still attempt to glean aspects from the Monty Python style I looked to the most iconic image from these animations, the foot. Borrowing from the Python foot I found a set of vector hands that I edited into separate layers that could go above and below other objects to give the impression they were being held in the hand. I also lengthened the arms to they could reach from off screen right to the centre.


I found vector characters and objects that matched the style of the hands and then began to create a series of animations as if the hands were animating the scene.


This style ended up being quite far from the initial idea but both the client and I were happy with the direction it was going and I think it turned out one of the best of this collection.

Developing the Characteres Blood brothers is centred around two brothers, both as children and as adults, meaning I would need to represent them as both old and young. This presented a problem in making the identity of each character clear. Across all the films, I tried not to give each character a definitive identity that could distract from the character created by the author and could be confusing for the students watching. To solve this problem I continued with the simple character illustrations but edited the clothing so that it was coded to a colour for each brother. This meant that the brothers were easily differentiated and also the viewer could easily connect the baby, child and adult versions of each brother.   To add an extra layer of complexity to this rather simple composition I chose to articulate and animate each character. I did this by separating and layering the upper and lower arms, upper and lower legs, body and head of each character in Illustrator. In After Effects I simply moved the anchor point to act as the joint for each body part and parented each part to the layer above. For example, the lower leg was parented to the upper leg, the upper leg was parented to the body. I then simply animated the body using rotation keyframes.



The final films were delivered over a period of about four months and the client was really pleased with the results, requesting us to produce 11 more videos than originally quoted for as well as enquires for many more jobs in the future. The video were used on the bitesize app and website:  As well and the BBC Teach youtube channel: