5 Tips to Integrate Empathy in Animation

One of the opportunities I love most in being a video storyteller is when our partners come to us looking to demonstrate the empathetic side of their business or organization. The generally accepted definition of empathy is simply having the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from their point of view. I can’t imagine offering a product or service to anyone without some level of empathy.

Our world has experienced unfathomable change in the last few years, so I’d argue that empathy for one another (and for the consumers of your content) is more paramount than ever.

So how can empathy show up for your brand through animation? I’ve got one big tip that’ll lead to 5 additional tips.

The BIG tip is : To better connect with humans, humanize everything that you can.

1. Humanize your story. This starts with getting to know your audience and who they are. Do you really know them? Have you had an authentic conversation with them about their desires, their thoughts, their fears, their needs? How do they see you? What part of their story lives within your story? Empathy requires of us strong listening skills. Listen first, write your story later.

2. Humanize your visual style. While we create digital art by way of a computer, there are plenty of opportunities to integrate more of a human touch in design and animation. This might be incorporating artistic texture or hand-drawn moments of animation. Return to point 1. and ask, “What will visually resonate with my audience based on what they’ve taught me?” Empathy is compassionate, understanding, approachable – allow your artwork to be too.

3. Humanize your pacing. Empathy allows room for reflection. It doesn’t fill the air with words just because, or rush to share a “If I were you, I would…” Allow your message to breathe.

4. Humanize your sound. Music can incite an incredible range of emotion. In another life I think I could study the psychology of this alone! We can use music and sound design to further communicate to our viewers that we’re here for them, and that we’re actively seeking to understand who they are at their core. If your piece calls for a voice over, prioritize authenticity in the way it’s read and in its tone. Allow the voice over artist to own the script and allow them the opportunity to infuse their own humanity into it. Consider unconventional ways to incorporate the human element. Could the script read like a poem? Could it be read by a child?

5. Humanize the creative process. Empathy tells us that inherently we all experience the world differently. We each have biases, we have personal experiences, we have preferences, we have insecurities and we experience joy. Make room for empathy within the process itself, and you’ll make a product even more reflective of that.

To more empathy in animation!

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