Q1: Please tell us a bit about yourself and the Deafness Resource Centre?
My name is Lyn Lowe and I'm a self employed Graphic Designer for my business, WhisperCreative. I've been a freelance Graphic Designer for over 25 years but dedicated myself to the business full time 7 years ago. I love my work as I like to make things pretty and interesting, which is the joy of Graphic Design.
The Deafness Resource Centre (DRC) was established in 1928 and supports the D/deaf* Community across much of the North West of England. With services such as Advocacy, Children and Family Team, Communication Services such as providing Sign Language Interpreters and offering free equipment for D/deaf or Hard of Hearing. It's an essential service which aims to empower, support and enhance the quality of lives for the D/deaf Community.
Q2: What does winning the best storytelling scribe of 2021 mean to you?
There were massive cheers all round. I was utterly thrilled to have been the designer that brought all this together, but for The Deafness Resource Centre, and especially the young people who were essential in the development of the video it was absolutely pride making. What an achievement!!
To have won such a strong category amongst thousand of entries world wide, it was just wow! This really helped these young people feel they have a voice in a world, that is largely hearing, but not always listening.
Check out Lyn's awesome winning video here 👇
Q3: Could you tell us a bit about your winning video?
The DRC always want to positively engage children and young people who are D/deaf to their service, to enrich their lives, help develop their confidence, improve communication, give them a standing in the world that often feels scary in its silence and help prevent isolation… as well as having fun like all young people should!
The DRC’s “iCan” Youth Club decided they wanted to attract more young members to their group and so set about wanting a promotional video to encourage new members, and explain what they have to offer, this is where they asked for my help. Together we held workshops (over zoom as we were in the middle of the COVID Pandemic) to discuss how they wanted to tell their story and how best to capture the audience's attention. They decided that to tell a true story (changing names for confidentially) would be the best way to help people understand how difficult it can be when you have a hearing loss.
Q4: What role does video play at the Deafness Resource Centre?
Engaging young people in youth clubs and activities these days is extremely hard for any group or service, ask most youth services, they will tell you, lots of young people prefer to stay at home playing computer games, interacting and chatting remotely via social media and that there is far less face-to-face activities, (a general statement, but there is huge decline in engagement compared to 20 years ago).
In the D/deaf community this equally applies. The DRC have, with funding, been able to run a youth club called iCan for D/deaf and hearing, but wanted to attract more members as there was so many more out there to engage with. Children and Young people love animation and video so this was the medium they knew would be ideal. After seeing some work I had produced, they felt this would be perfect, but the members of iCan Youth Club were key, it was to be their project, their ideas, their story and so the work begun.
Q5: Why do you think animation is so effective for communicating with your audience?
Death by Powerpoint, hmmm…. we know it exists and most people turn off, now put up an animation video, that has characters, cartoons, music, voice-over, and suddenly you have audience attention, not just with young people, adults love whiteboard animation too. What I thought was perfect with VideoScribe is that I could make it accessible to ensure all audiences were able to receive and access the message. The video was created with voice-overs for people who can hear or have visual impairments; we included sign translation video in the corner for people who use BSL, and also captions for those who can't hear and don't know BSL.
Working with DRC has made me far more aware of equality and diversity and ensuring that mediums are designed in a way that can reach all, not just some. I love that you have control over how the animation moves, its not just slides that moves from one to the next, VideoScribe helps develop and build the story. But its not just a case of throwing something in there, you do have to consider how you wish to tell the story, engage your audience right at the beginning, take them on a journey and finish with a call to action, if it requires one.
Q6: What do you think is the secret to telling an engaging story?
I think making it something people can relate to. So whilst many hearing people may not consider what life is like if you have hearing loss or D/deaf, they could immediately connect to it, in an empathetic way once the story was being told. Having a character that you take through the journey with you, enables you to connect with him/her, you become invested in what happens, and I think the character of Benny does this very well in this video.
Timing is key, this is often what can take it's time when developing the video, if the drawing doesn’t match the wording or the voice-over at the right moment it all becomes disjointed and you can soon switch off (it can be like bad dubbing), so getting those aspects married up exactly is essential. And I would urge anyone watching this video to watch it several times, watch as its meant to be seen first time, then watch again with the sound off, watch again following the BSL translation in the corner, you start to understand what life is like for D/deaf people. You enter Benny’s world, and it does get ya!
Q7: What feedback do you get on your videos?
When the project first started we were in the middle of lockdown and so all the workshops were conducted online via zoom, by the time the video was completed, we were able to be back out there and meet in person, and so we had a special film screening just for the The iCan youth members and their parents. It was the first time they saw it in its entirety, and they loved it!! Very much blown away, lots of questions from the parents of how did you do that - (the young people had already been introduced to what was whiteboard animation) but for the parents it was the first time they had seen anything like it. They asked to watch it again as they were really impressed.
The video is quite new in that it's only just been released to the public, so the views are still growing but I know DRC are really proud of it, the young people are even more so, as they helped develop their story to be told and I think this will only grow in its popularity as we move forward and promote it. I know the youth club want to do a continuation story and explain more about what the youth clubs offers to young people, so the fact that they want to create more is a testament to how proud they are of the video. And then to win, well it’s just fab!
Q8: How did you plan your winning video?
Firstly the staff of DRC and youth workers had seen some of the videos I have previously produced and thought, wow this is engaging, and would love the youth club to develop a video. So we set up two workshops (via zoom) I did not know BSL at this point, but I have since completed a course (I highly recommend) and so the youth workers would interpret between me and the group.
The first workshop was to explain what is whiteboard animation, and to show good examples that have been produced, then we discussed what were their aims and objectives and how best to develop the video. The group consulted together over the next few weeks in their youth club sessions, and by the following workshop had started to put together a script. They also spent their free time drawing characters, and scenes to guide me, so everything was very much lead by them, I then took their ideas and drawings and began creating the images that were to be used.
Q9: Can you give us an overview of how you created your video?
Once I had seen some of the drawings and cartoons from the youth club I began drawing up some main characters (for approval), I did this via Adobe Illustrator and save to SVG files, the script continued to be be developed, and once the written script was completed I could then begin building each drawing and scene, I didn’t need the voice-over at this point, as I could go off the written script.
Once the voice-over was completed (kindly volunteered by two members of the youth club and a member of staff - all recorded on an iPhone) I then added this MP3 file to the scribe, and begin the process of adjusting timings, moving elements on the art-board so everything synced. All the time keeping in mind I would need to keep an area free so I could then add the Sign Video in the corner.
Once the video was completed and rendered, this was then sent to DRC where a staff member filmed herself signing whilst watching the video at the same time. Her video was then sent to me which I then overlaid in iMovie and with that the movie was renewed one last time for completion. In between several of these stages, approvals and minor amendments where made to make suitable for the requirements of DRC.
Q10: What made you choose VideoScribe to create your videos?
As explained before I find VideoScribe an amazing tool to add so many different elements, such as music, voice-over, own drawings or use those provided by VideoScribe, they way you have control over direction, camera control, timings and animation adjustments, it's just all excellent.
It is a great piece of software to use and I always enjoy creating them. One of my animation videos has had over 195k views on YouTube which I never expected, and funny enough it was one of my first videos I created. As I have got more proficient with VideoScribe I would now have made a few changes to the original but people seem to love it!
Q11: What's your best advice for other people wanting to tell their stories with animation?
If you're producing a video on behalf of a client or someone else, engage them in the process as much as possible, understanding their story and their message helps cut down any post editing work. I always like to work with a written script first. For some videos if you can produce a main character, they could be lovable, they could be a villain but someone you start to invest in, the audience then becomes curious as to what happens to this character. And timings! Get those transitions and timings spot on and the video will flow. Lastly love what you do…. And have fun!
Big thank you to Lyn for sharing your story with us! If you'd like to create your own animations, try VideoScribe for free for 7 days 👇