Powerful Lesson on Empathy

While visiting a 1st grade classroom for an unrelated assignment, I took this photo (below) using my iPhone after one of the teachers explained the lesson/activity to me. I immediately wanted to develop a creative way to share it with the larger school community, so I decided to use Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop to tell the story.

1st grade empathy lesson

My biggest challenge was getting reacquainted with the Adobe After Effects interface. From what I can tell, I haven’t used it since 2011, which is why I made it one of my professional goals at work this year. It’s such a powerful program, and I invested so much time in the training, so I really don’t want to just let it go to waste in my line of work. To really get the most out of it and create truly dynamic videos can be quite time-consuming, though, which is why (for me) it falls by the wayside.

Overall, this production (1:50) took a little more than 3 hours, partially due to my not being as familiar with the interface. Rediscovering all of the effects and animation parameters took a lot of time, and one component I didn’t factor into my “time budget” was searching for fonts! After choosing Bebas for the words in the intro, I realized that for the rest of the composition, I needed a font that was similar, but not all caps (this is where Font Book comes in handy). I also didn’t count on getting so hung up on the word “Diversity”! I managed to animate the saturation parameter to get it to change colors and then stop, but when it came time to increase the opacity and change the fill color an all of the words at the end of the video, that parameter made it start changing colors again, and I couldn’t adjust it to make it stop. I eventually had to decrease the layer’s opacity to 0 and add a new layer with no animation, to appear on top of it.

For the photo component (~1:02), I used Photoshop to “slice” the layers of the photo with the Polygon Lasso Tool, imported those layers into After Effects, and applied animation. I then imported the entire composition into Final Cut Pro X, to more effectively align it with the audio.

1st Grade Empathy Lesson from Sharmaine Mitchell on Vimeo.


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