3 super- creative charity video techniques

Films from Keech Hospice Care, The New York Times and Great Ormond Street in this week’s selection of creative charity videos. Each of these uses a inventive techniques to grab attention or get the message across.

1. Hand Drawn Animation: Keech Hospice Care

Pencil and pen drawings help this charity tell their story in a friendly and engaging way.

When Keech Hospice Care were looking for an accessible way to let people know about their work and to tell their unique story, they wanted something that would be quirky and shareable but also controllable. They decided to create a hand drawn animation based on a script that they wrote themselves. The film was made by Creative Connection. Watching the characters and locations come alive in the skilful hands of the illustrator is really good fun and encourages you to keep watching. These types of animations are sometimes called whiteboard animations….

This cartoon was a huge hit with Keech’s followers and was watched and shared widely on their Facebook and YouTube pages and was promoted via Twitter.

This film was made by professional animators but there are lots of simple apps and programmes out there that can help you achieve a very similar effect on a much smaller budget. These Aussie geeks from Ride to Conquer Cancer – set out to raise money to fight cancer via a bike ride and created this whiteboard animation to explain what they were up to and it raised $15,000.


2. The Secret Life of Passwords: The New York Times

A stunning use of silhouettes combined with colourful backgrounds.

I’ve been waiting AGES for someone to do this with : there’s been a trend in stills photography to combine someone’s silhouette with a pattern or abstract background. Some digital cameras will even do it for you. But the first time I’ve seen it done with video was for this series of articles about people’s passwords. The privacy and the secrecy of the subject lends itself to obscuring the identity of the people but this technique could work equally well for charity films where people wish to remain anonymous. It’s a bit more complicated to achieve this effect with video but we think it’s a combination of a silhouette shot agains a bright background that is then ‘matted’ onto a specially shot background.

3. Cinema Advert: Great Ormond Street Hospital

This advert for the Centre for Research into Rare Diseases makes an impact by startling use of sound.

This beautifully shot film achieves it’s power by juxtaposing happy. sunny scenes of childhood with the sound of the voices discussing the diagnosis of childhood diseases: these are real children, parents and doctors from Great Ormond Street and the disconnect between sound and vision creates interest and tension, forcing you to listen intently and think about what people are saying. A carefully placed call to action midway through the film makes a request for donations before we’re returned to the images of a carefree childhood.

A similar technique has been used by Cancer Research UK with their Moments film – with carefully shot images contrasted with people talking about their precious moments….

Both these films look expensive and glossy but there’s no reason that a very similar and powerful result can’t be achieved on a budget. Good planning and scripting would go a long way.

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Jeremy Jeffs is a documentary film maker with 15 years experience of directing films for BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic and PBS. He’s recently finished work on a history of China, with broadcaster Michael Wood and his recent feature documentary, Bette Bourne, was shown at the London Film Festival, Sheffield International Documentary Festival and the V&A.

Magneto Films is an award winning production company that specialises in working with the charity sector, not-for-profits and the public sector. We specialise in telling real stories, working with casestudies and real people to make films that move people to action.

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