[Updated with subtitles]
For his final year project at Berufsakademie Ravensburg in Germany, Axel Rudolph created “Knowledge,” a proof-of-concept video for his vision of what educational media could be. In Axel’s words:
One of my goals is to show that education and learning may also have a ‘cool look.’ This new look often reminds the viewer more of a TV music video than that of a matter-of-fact history lesson.
The sample […] gives a 5-minute-explanation of the roots of the middle-east conflict. It took about 3 ½ months to research this project, write the story book, and prepare the animation graphics.
I think Axel achieved his goal. Leaving behind Ken Burns and instead sampling from contemporary motion design, his presentation of history is compelling and entertaining without feeling fluffy. There’s a definite nod to Simon Robson’s “What Barry Says,” but Axel created his own visual language, and he uses it well.
Axel also did a superb job with the sound design, which creates a palpable tension throughout the piece, pulling the viewer along in search of some kind of resolution.
As to the larger issue of using motion graphics for educational purposes: I am firmly with Axel. The expository power of motion design is undeniable. As with most things having to do with education—at least in the US—the problem lies in funding. Axel’s 3.5 months of work translate into a very expensive project in the “real world.”
Despite that, I think there’s an opportunity here somewhere. I’d love to see what textbook publishers and educators think about all this. Perhaps we’re ready for a new model altogether?