Visual explanation is just another tool in a storyteller’s toolkit

Gratitude. One of several words of appreciation I had Thursday evening when six visual storytellers shared their wisdom and talent to the packed conference room at UO-Portland for Explanatory Videos: A Mini Film Festival. We were also grateful for the reception, especially considering the other events competing for their time and attention throughout Design Week. Under the leadership of Tsilli Pines, Design Week Portland had once again successfully hosted a week-long opportunity to connect and bring together our city’s robust design community. And thanks to the partnership with The Oregonian and OregonLive for promotional and financial support.

The topic we curated this time was explanatory video, which has been around for some time but has found a resurgence.

And with the increasing popularity of video, in general, this form of storytelling is here to stay. So what better way to learn how we got here and where we’re going by bringing together six local and national top explainer filmmakers. To briefly explain what we mean by explainer videos, all ow me to borrow from our DWP event page:

Traditional narratives often fail to capture the larger systems and processes that underlie events in the news. These drivers are often complicated and dry, but visual explanations can help make them accessible, even fun. By combining motion design, data visualization, and good old fashioned reporting, the best explainer videos get to the heart of events and give a new lens on the world.

As the filmmakers reminded me this week, this technique is just another kit in your toolbelt as a visual storyteller. Thank you to these visual storytellers for sharing their short film and knowledge:

And why not show rather than tell what they presented at the mini-film festival:

The Waste that Remains After Arming Nuclear Weapons” from MacGregor Campbell
Why cartoon characters wear gloves” from Estelle Caswell
Wikitribune Campaign” from Kirby Ferguson
How salmonella spreads from farm to table” from Teresa Mahoney
Voyage to a new solar system forming” from John Pavlus
Greening the Revolution” (jump to 19:44) by Jamal Qutub