Science Research Explainer: Fracking Magma

In early 2020, we worked with Holly Unwin, an environmental science researcher from Lancaster University, and the research group ENVISION to create an animation about Holly’s research into volcanoes. 
Holly’s research is about the different types of volcanic eruptions and how they could be predicted through tuffisites which are fractures filled with ash that may play a role in releasing pressure in a volcano.
This is one of the five animations we created for ENVISION PhD researchers in early 2020. In autumn 2019 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.


Style designs

A style frame was designed to give an idea of how the final animation would look. 
The style design was created in Adobe illustrator and After Effects. 
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Sketched Storyboards and Animatic Video 

A storyboard was sketched out based on the script. 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. 
Volcano animation storyboard sketches

Illustration of Animation Assets

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. 
Illustration of the volcano animation storyboard frames


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


Holly is using her animated video to successfully explain and engage people in her research. 
The animation was released publicly on Twitter and received positive feedback and engagement. 
Holly volcano animation on Twitter