Animated film highlights ocean acidification threat to marine life

Issue date: 09 June 2014

A cartoon fish, turtle and seahorse look out of a porthole underwater

Launch at Festival of Nature, Millennium Square, Bristol Harbourside 14 June 2014 13:00

Animation students from UWE Bristol working in collaboration with Falmouth University students have created an animated film for primary aged children highlighting the impact of pollution from carbon emissions on life in the world's oceans. The Plymouth Marine Laboratory monitored the 'scientific robustness' of the cartoon from planning to production phases

Commissioned by the Shark and Coral Conservation Trust the film will be launched at the Festival of Nature on 14 June 2014 at 13:00. The film will be shown on the giant screen in Millennium Square in Bristol and the students will give a presentation in the BBC tent on the day.

Monty Halls Senior, Shark and Coral Conservation Trust, was very impressed with the professionalism of the student team who delivered the project.

“There is currently a serious threat to all marine life and habitatsposed by progressive ocean acidification (OA). We commissioned this film to build awareness amongst 6 to 12 year old children of the damage to the oceans caused by carbon emissions as part of our awareness campaign.

“We set the animation students a hard task to make such a difficult subject engaging for children and we feel the film does this perfectly. We were very impressed with the professionalism of the students and staff from both universities. The film will help us to spread awareness of the biodiversity of our oceans and the importance of protecting the environment for future generations. We are delighted with the outcome.”

Tom Barth, third year animation student from UWE Bristol, who managed the project, said the film had been wonderful to work on and that the team had gained so much from working on a real world project for a real client. He said, “Team working is essential when putting an animation together and the final film is the result of input from around 25 people working together to a client brief that was quite challenging. We had to tell a fairly complex story involving scientific content that needed to be distilled, simplified and presented in a way that would suit a primary school audience.

“We used 2D animation mirroring the popular SpongeBob Squarepants character that most children in this age range will have seen. The result is quite cartoony but we think we have got the key message across - the problem of ocean acidification caused by burning fossil fuels and the impact on the marine environment. The project has given us all a taste of the real world and provided us with the best training possible.”

Rachel Mills, Associate Head of Department, Design said, “Practice based learning is integral to the animation programmes giving students the chance to gain valuable work related experience. We were delighted to be approached by the Shark and Coral Conservation Trust - the film they needed provided an extremely interesting project for our students to work to a live brief from a real client, in short a real world experience opportunity.

“The project was a collaborative venture involving around 20 students. The UWE Bristol student team created the animation and the Falmouth students produced background artwork for the final film. The music was composed by a student at the University of Bristol.”

Derek Hayes, Lecturer in Animation at Falmouth University said, “This has been a very worthwhile project, we try to make live projects as close to the real professional environment as we can. This project was an interesting challenge as we needed to communicate a difficult subject, to a young audience about a problem that needs to be faced, in a way that didn't seem too scary.”

The film launch coincides with events happening all over the UK in support of Universities Week.

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