Posted Thursday, April 25, 2019 - 3:43 PM

Pratt and TED-Ed: Animation Students Create Videos to Help Kids Share Big Ideas

Pratt Digital Arts faculty member Mike Enright and TED-Ed Animation Artist Lisa LaBracio (seated) with Pratt digital arts students at the TED Conferences office in Manhattan (photo by Dian Lofton / TED)

Recently undergraduate students in the Department of Digital Arts (DDA) created short animations on overcoming stage fright and learning to listen to others. For the past two years, Pratt has partnered with the nonprofit organization TED-Ed, TED's youth and education initiative, to produce short animation spots for TED-Ed Student Talks. This program supports students in discovering, developing, and sharing their ideas in TED-style talks, and gaining experience in public speaking and confidence.

Facing My Fears” was made by Krstina Mastilovic, Aidan Stadler, and Matthew Brennan. It was based on a story by a TED-Ed Student Talks participant, Kia Uusitalo, who relates her journey from being nervous about speaking in front of people (animated with heads transforming into big gaping eyes and huge question marks), to confidently presenting at a youth conference at the United Nations. “Learning to Listen” was created by Angela Menghan Xiao, Claire Wan Hua Hsieh, Ana Chang, and Alistair Rice. Employing an animation style that appears like watercolor illustrations, it was inspired by Naomi Miller’s TED-Ed Student Talks experience. She shares an interaction with someone who disagreed with her talk (represented in the video by fire meeting water), and how by discussing their conflict they gained a better appreciation for finding points of empathetic connection with someone whose ideas are in opposition to one’s own.

During the fall 2018 semester, students pitched, designed, developed, and animated these videos under the guidance of Mike Enright, Adjunct Associate Professor of Digital Arts, with input from TED-Ed Animation Artist Lisa LaBracio and her team at TED-Ed. The Pratt teams recently presented their animations at the TED Conferences office in Manhattan. In addition to sharing their work with TED-Ed, the event was a chance for students to meet TED-Ed animators and producers, and practice screening their animations in front of a professional audience.

Each year as part of the 2D animation curriculum at Pratt Institute, undergraduate students make animated videos in response to the work of a New York City-area nonprofit and gain valuable experience working with a real-life client. Along with TED-Ed these nonprofits include Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Happy Period, and the Ali Forney Center.

Image: Pratt Digital Arts faculty member Mike Enright and TED-Ed Animation Artist Lisa LaBracio (seated) with Pratt digital arts students at the TED Conferences office in Manhattan (photo by Dian Lofton / TED)