Term project at
Carnegie Mellon University
motion graphics, illustration
Making the Abstract Concrete
It’s safe to assume that all of us have encountered information that was difficult to grasp science and math concepts that use lots of abstract symbols; topics that are invisible or span a great deal of time or space; objects that are too large, small, or fast to see well; ideas that involve lots of jargon, etc. Although the very nature of information can make it challenging to grasp, the form that is used to communicate the content can aid or hinder understanding. Address the challenge of making something abstract concrete.
This was a six week long project as a part of our Communication Design Studio and each of us were assigned an abstract topic to make concrete with the use of visual, audio and motion channels. I was assigned Mudflows (which I didn’t even know existed until then!).
I first made a quick storyboard with a rough idea of narration in the background. After my initial research to learn about Mudflows, initially, it was easier to understand the process in 3D, so my first attempt of visualizing the process was in 3D. Some of the factors I considered while drawing out the storyboard were:
1. How could the topic be introduced so people could connect to the information?
2. How could movement and speed be depicted best?
3. What metaphors (if any) could be used for comparisons?
I imagined this video to be a part of a geography lesson that could be comprehensible to most people (children included) reasonably fast. Since mudflows involve considerable movement, I kept the visual style relatively simple so that I could draw the audience to the nuances of the movements (fast versus slow movements, runny versus viscous consistencies). I aimed to make the visual style looked handmade, inspired by colorful textbook illustrations, so it would look engaging and inviting for a wide audience. At the same time, I ensured that the visuals didn't look esoteric.
Here were my initial inspirations: