Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Geography Animations

A group of Year 9 geography students describe the methods they used to create a Barcelona Tourism animation. Animations can be fun to make and help to bring geography to life, but require careful planning, the availability of suitable software and practice.

Making of the Barcelona Tourism Animation
by Callum Lory, Year 9 geography student, 21 May 2012

The entire animation was made as a geography project studying the tourism in the city of Barcelona, Spain. We were to outline the positive and negative aspects of tourism, and finally give our opinion on whether it was good for the city or not.

Video: the advantages and disadvantages of tourism in Barcelona
Callum Lory, Sean Honeyman and Ugo Madu (Year 9 geography students)

The team consisted of 3 members, Sean Honeyman, Ugo Madu, and myself. We each had an individual task that we had to perform in order to complete the project. Sean wrote the script with the help of Ugo, who was the researcher of the group, although we all had knowledge of the tourism from classes. I was the animator and the editor. For the majority of the time we worked at my computer, other than that we worked at Kensington School.

It took several steps to complete the project. Firstly we needed the script, since without it the whole animation would be a disaster. Sean's job was vital. Ugo got the information necessary to be able to create a script. Using this, I was able to make a storyboard, many different pictures that represent points in time in the animation. It is used to get a basic image of how the animation will look, and to guide me whilst I am actually making it. Once we had the blueprints of our video, the script and the storyboard, we needed to record the lines. We used a free audio recording and editing programme called 'Audacity', along with a semi-professional microphone to record the lines. It is important to do this first, so that the animation is in sync with the voices, and not the other way round. If the voices are not synchronised they could sound rushed, as if they are trying to fill the soundless space. With the lines recorded, I had a general perspective of how long each part was going to be in the animation. Now it just had to be animated.

I used a programme called 'Adobe Flash CS5.5 Professional' to animate the video. I imported the script lines and added them to the timelines of the different scenes they belonged to. For each scene I had to draw, using a drawing tablet, each object, building, or person. The majority of the animation is motion tweening of different graphics. Setting a graphic, or symbol, to be in one position at one point in the timeline, and then x amount of frames later, setting it to another point. I have my own techniques using different symbols, and what I call 'Blocks', a symbol that hides another by using layers. Using these techniques of manipulation of symbols, I am able to create a scene in the animation. Once the animation is complete, I have to make sure it is in sync with the audio. After the script audio, a song had to be applied to the credits. Sean and I spent some time checking through different songs, and then came to the decision on 'Dakota' by 'Stereophonics'. This whole process took about two days and a half.

Once I exported the video, including the audio from Adobe Flash, I then uploaded it to a video hosting website. The most common one, and the easiest, is YouTube. The video was only a couple of minutes long, so it did not take long to upload. Once uploaded, it was posted on several different online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter whereupon it could be watched by a multitude of people.

The hardest part of the whole process would have to be syncing the audio with the video. I put a lot of time into making sure the right thing moved or happened at the time I wanted it to, so it would look right with the audio. Arranging the credits was especially difficult, since changes were synchronised with the rhythm of the song. I had to find out exactly how many frames were in between each beat, which took about twenty minutes.

The easiest part was creating the storyboard. I have created quite a few, so I find it easy to think up possible animations that fit the script. There are always a few times where I can't think of anything that goes with a certain piece of the script, but someone else on the team will always have a good idea.

By far the most enjoyable and fun part was recording the script. The amount of outtakes I had piled up on my computer after recording was incredible. But the whole thing was great fun, and there is even a point in the final video where I am heard laughing.

Using animation to create the video has its positive and negative sides. For instance, by using animation no camera was needed, we could all work without having to travel all around Barcelona visiting various tourist attractions, and the quality of the video, in terms of viewing in high definition, was naturally good. On the other hand, with animation you have to create and draw everything, which is hard if you do not have a person who works on the artwork on the team. Trying to get the amount of detail into an animation, that you would be able to get from using a camera, would require a lot of time, and would be extremely hard. To create an animation, you need to know how to use the software, all the different techniques, and you need to have quite a bit of practice.

Callum Lory

Making of the Barcelona Tourism Animation
by Sean Honeyman, Year 9 geography student, 21 May 2012

As Callum has previously mentioned throughout this article, the animation was a joint effort between himself, Ugo and me, though I must say the plaudits must go to him as it is the quality of the animation that allowed the script to come to life.

Though writing the script was an enjoyable experience, it was also somewhat of a challenge as throughout its creation there was the constant need to maintain a neutral perspective. I could not allow myself to be pro-tourism or anti-tourism. This was a difficult task as I am in fact pro-tourism, I believe it is an integral part of the world's economy and has many benefits. This is evident in the way that in the animation there are a large amount of positive aspects of tourism, compared to very few negative aspects.

I feel, although I may not have found a balance, I have still allowed room for there to be a debate on whether or not tourism is beneficial to a country. At the same time I would like to apologise on the behalf of myself and the rest of our group for any offence we may have caused. I am of course referring to the very last scene whereupon Ugo depicts the Catalan locals as "whiners." This of course is in no way meant to be taken seriously or offensively, at the time it simply felt quite humorous.

All in all I hope you thoroughly enjoyed our animation, and found it educational and entertaining.

Sean Honeyman