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Behind the scene
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NHS Antenatal Educational Videos

The Suffolk and North East Essex Maternity and Neonatal Services, part of the UK's National Health System or NHS, were looking to create a set of engaging and accessible educational videos to feature on their website, to better support their patients in the journey of becoming parents. 

Working in close collaboration with the team of midwives collaborating with us on the project, I had 5 months to create a series of 17 animations - 67 minutes total - covering various topics of Antenatal Care. 

The Creative Process

The first stage of developing the animations was to define the overall graphic style.

I started by suggesting some colour palettes and character designs — infants, mothers, partners, and healthcare professionals — with diversity at the forefront. It was important for the client to emphasize inclusiveness, so the characters were carefully crafted to reflect real-world variety, ensuring that every viewer could connect with the content. 

Two sets of styleframes were presented to the client, so they could choose the direction that suited them best. We then worked on refining and developing the chosen style further. I used Illustrator to create the style frames

The selected colour palette and style frames

Pre-production

With the style frames refined and approved,  and 17 animations at hand to create, it was crucial to set up a thoroughly detailed production planning, to ensure I would successfully meet our deadline without losing track of any important detail. 

This included setting up a series of deadlines for producing each storyboard and animation of the 17 videos with daily targets, or a total of 34 internal deadlines I gave myself throughout the 5 months.

This enabled us to efficiently assess whether we could allocate time to incorporate new ideas that arose mid-project, or if production time required us to focus on the existing plans.

Once our planning was bulletproof, I could make a start on the storyboards development.

First, we organised meetings with the midwives, to go through "draft storyboard" thumbnails I had drawn by hand.

This allowed us to ensure I would accurately illustrate the medical procedures and care advice mentioned in the scripts, as their insights, combined with the medical drawings and video references provided, helped guide my illustrations.

It allowed us to find the right balance between authentically conveying the care guidance, maintaining medical precision and keeping the visuals approachable.

 

Once we were all happy with the thumbnails, I would continue by creating the proper storyboard frames in our final animation style.


I used Procreate to draw the thumbnails, then Adobe Illustrator and Storyboarder to create the storyboards. 

The storyboard stages

Storyboard for "The Birth Partner Role" animation

The animation production

Once the storyboards were approved, I could jump into production. For such a big project, I tried to approach this stage strategically, starting by creating a set of "master compositions" which I could duplicate and decline throughout the 17 animations.

Amongst these "master-comps" were, for example, the background texture loop, the character's eyes with blinks, or a "talking" mouth loop. There also was a range of character rigs, comprising several positions (standing, sitting, breastfeeding, etc). Having these set up and pre-animated and looping allowed me to optimise and save a huge amount of production time, since I could then alter only the character's features (hair, skin & clothes colours) in the duplicated composition, without impacting the animations already keyed up, 


With all my characters nicely rigged, I would start building an animation, by doing a general pacing of the frames to the voiceover track and keying their transitions. I'd then go back into each frame's sub-compositions to animate them in more detail.