Deepening Personal Stories with Motion Graphics

Lisa Kilborn, June 26, 2017

UNC-Chapel Hill is making a big effort to help first-generation and other students find their paths to success. Knowing that sharing stories can be a powerful motivator, our colleague and UNC professor Terence Oliver created an emotionally raw and passionate video series that features students unleashing their experience in a torrent of poetry and fascinating motion graphics.

The result has drawn audiences both on campus and far beyond. Here, Terence lets us into his creative process – and discusses what it took to create these amazing stories. 

How did the idea to create these videos come about? What impact were you going for?

Terence: Most everyone loves a powerful personal story. In the same way, mostly everyone feels  the power of visual, impactful moving graphics in stories. The idea for these videos came about as a way to bring the stories together with moving visual graphics to complement each other and make a memorable connection with the audience. 

Upon hearing that UNC-Chapel Hill was looking for new ways to support students’ academic achievement and graduation, I saw the opportunity to create interesting and creative pieces that would have strong narrative and contemporary visual appeal – and would not only resonate with the audience, but grab them with high impact. 

What was your process?

Terence: As for the creative process, everything has to revolve around the message. So we started by filming  each individual from multiple angles with minimal interference, allowing them to be themselves and speak their message from the heart.

Next, I worked with an associate to review the footage and work up storyboards that would focus on key phrases and significant words, and I also closely monitored each individual’s body language. The goal was to showcase and complement anything verbal or nonverbal that could help maximize the message. It was also important to capture and support anything (such as emotions, passion, subtle movements) that would help bridge the personal connection to the audience. With the motion graphic treatments, I settled on a visual animated approach that would be clean, clear, and work with the tone and feel of the message and scene.

How can storytelling like this benefit other kinds of organizations, whether non-profits or other businesses?

This motion graphic approach has great potential for other kinds of organizations, non-profits or businesses because it can be used to  strategically showcase whatever is important to the client’s audience. These fresh, highly sharable projects have the potential to maximize the personal connection between the client and their audience, while being highly visual and intellectually stimulating. The contemporary results can be quite memorable as the animated graphics expedite and elevate the level of communication, while helping increase comprehension, recollection and retention. 

Producing short, visually appealing, substantive videos like these, and promoting them through traditional and multiple social media platforms allows that combination of personal connection and visual impact. This kind of storytelling stays with people for a long time.

Terence Oliver

An award-winning animator, information designer and illustrator, Terence Oliver currently teaches visual journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill and has taught at Ohio University, Kent State University and the Poynter Institute.

Previously, he held design leadership positions at the Akron Beacon Journal and was an editorial artist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Terence was a part of two Pulitzer Prize winning teams and has won more than 50 individual awards from prestigious industry organizations.