Using multi media

The power of Animations – Interview with Betty Paton

By 12/05/2017

We caught up with Betty Paton last week to talk about the power of strategic communications, video, and particularly animation as an effective way to communicate development research.


Why do you think animations are an effective tool to communicate development research?

They are succinct, visually engaging, and shareable. Video makes up such a significant amount of the content being published online now, so a well-storyboarded animation can be a great way to stand out and get your research noticed.

How can you make a simple and strategic animation to communicate research, advertise a conference, or even promote a funding opportunity?

I think the biggest key is storyboarding your animation well. Think about who you are trying to reach and what you want them to know. What’s your key message and what do you want your audience to do with the information you’ve given them? Share it? Invest in it? What’s your call-to-action?

Can you suggest any good examples of animations you have created recently or were inspired by?

The TED Institute have made some brilliant animations, such as this one on ‘why the stories we tell can change the world’. I have also recently put one together for the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund about the three objectives of the programme in both English and French. I used a tool called VideoScribe – an online application that allows you to put together animations with pre-set images.

How do you adjust animations to appeal to large, diverse audiences but also to viewers in different languages?

Try to keep the written words to a minimum, then they are more easily translated into multiple languages if needed. Use clear imagery and iconography that directly speaks to the messages you are trying to communicate.

What one tip would you give to someone about how to make an effective animation?

Keep it short – one to two minutes is ample – and anything longer might lose audience attention. Also, have fun! It’s a creative and exciting way to transform research into compelling and emotive material.


To find out more about creating storyboards for your research and the power of animations, read this Guide to Storyboarding Research by Patrick Dunleavy and watch our Animated Guide to Producing a Policy Brief.