As Climate Media Factory (CMF), we are mainly responsible for audio-visual products to accompany the process, to document it or to provide material for teaching units. Our first contribution was the project video for I-CHANGE. The 4-minute video outlines the project and its goals, that is based on a style our partner Design Entrepreneurship Institute (DEN) developed. That sounds simple, doesn’t it?
What finally flickers across the monitor in an easy and understandable way, is based on serious considerations.
At the beginning is a lot of text that we have to translate and communicate in a visual language. A key challenge is to synchronise the perspectives of different partners. This is an interesting process, but it involves a lot of negotiation to come to a common ground together. Because the result of those discussions is not only important for the film; it also consolidates a common understanding internally.
Once there is an agreement on the text, we consider how it could be visualized: Which visual language will we choose? Because of the given style, we were already bound by certain guidelines like colors and typefaces. But what about the concrete pictures we create? Who is our target group? What kind of houses do they live in? What kind of vehicles do they use? And what is their visual habit? That is a process of circling around and making decisions based on many considerations.
Especially since our target group is one thing above all: diverse. It is important to us that our presentation takes for example gender aspects into account as well as cultural aspects. Our Living Labs are not only in Europe – which is in many ways still characterized more by differences than similarities – but also in Israel or Burkina Faso. That’s why we were concerned not to exclude anyone in creating a visual outcome and that has very concrete consequences for the design. Inclusion means thinking about aspects such as special needs, age and gender.
Other considerations are very concrete. This applies to characters, but also to the environment, for example when it comes to buildings, landscapes or even objects. If you want to take all these aspects into account, this inevitably goes hand in hand with a certain degree of abstraction.
Once the image ideas are ready, it’s time for the implementation. Here you usually start with a storyboard, a kind of comic, in which the individual scenes are sketched according to the text. With these sketches you create a video draft to get a feeling of the timing. If this meets with general approval, we start to create the final product. Each video is unique. Although it is possible to use supporting software, most of the work is still done by hand: every character, every single Icon, and every movement is somehow designed. That’s why requests for changes at this stage often triggers panic attacks. The process is long and includes many steps, that means there are often specific challenges that require outside help.
Film is not only about images. At the end we always need sound design, music has to be found and licensed, visual moments have to be represented acoustically, and of course the text has to be spoken.
And it’s not over yet! Because in order to enable everyone to participate, it’s also a matter of subtitling in several languages. The actual film is in English, but the problem is that English takes less time and words than most other languages to say something. This means that native speakers must get involved and the translated text has to be shortened again. Thankfully, we had the opportunity to fall back on our multilingual partners and their patience.
So finally, the video is ready with the goal to get as many participants involved in our project as possible. And what hopefully comes across as easy is the result of a hard-working process.
AUTHOR: Catharina Dörr, Ephraim Broschkowski, Climate Media Factory