Bloomin’ Blanket weed! Managing nuisance algae in shallow freshwater bodies – Envision Science Animation

This animated video explains the research into environmental drivers behind algal blooms, with a focus on lakes and ponds experiencing these challenges during warm summer months.

Commissioned by researchers dedicated to freshwater ecosystem health, this animation was created as a tool to bridge the gap between scientific research and public awareness. Targeted at a general audience of all ages, it will also be used as an educational resource for the National Trust's Clumber Park Discovery Centre and similar venues across the UK.

This is one of the four animations we created for Envision PhD researchers in 2022. Envision ran a competition where candidates submitted a brief for an animated film. The winners were selected by a judging panel and the prize was to have an animation produced about their research work.

Visual Approach:

Our animation uses a smooth, gradient shaded style with lighting effects to help bring the algae and waterbodies to life.


Adobe Illustrator was used for storyboard creation and artwork illustration, followed by Adobe After Effects for bringing the story to life through animation and motion design.

Research Insights:

The animation explores research into why blanket weed blooms occur with such frequency and intensity, especially noted in Clumber Park, north Nottinghamshire. Despite their negative impacts on freshwater bodies when in excess, the animation carefully navigates the narrative to avoid casting blanket weed algae in an entirely negative light, emphasizing its role within the ecosystem.

Public Engagement:

Our aim extends beyond raising awareness; we seek to inspire the public and stakeholders to appreciate and support the research and conservation work essential for managing and preserving our precious freshwater resources. Through engaging storytelling and visual design, the animation positions itself as a key outreach tool for the National Trust and others committed to environmental stewardship.



We collaborated with Hannah to write a 2 minute script for the animation based on the competition entry that explained her research and pitched the storyline concept. 

Sketched Storyboards and Animatic Video 

Algae animation - storyboard sketches
A storyboard was sketched out based on the script in Photoshop then uploaded to Boords. The storyboard images were then put into a video sequence with a draft voiceover recording so we could test the timings and ensure the script and images made sense when played together.
At this point we made some script and image revisions before moving to the next stage. 

Illustration of Animation Assets

Screenshot of animation storyboards in Adobe Illustrator.
Once the sketched storyboards were signed off, the storyboards were illustrated in the style design. 
The illustrations were created using Adobe Illustrator. Some revisions were made before moving onto the next production phase. 


Screenshot of animation in After Effects.
The animation phase started by preparing all the illustrations for animation. This involved separating artwork out onto layers and naming them.
Illustration files were imported into Adobe After Effects then animated. 
A professional voice over artist recorded the script then the audio track was mixed and edited so it could be animated in time to.