Leaving Your Mark

The Challenge

To produce a 30 second to 3 minute animation based on a piece of text.

I decided to choose to animate a poem about bullying called To this Day, written by Shane Koyczan, that I had found very emotive and powerful when I had first listened to it. I first analysed the poem and presented my own personal interpretation of the poem.

My Solution

The lasting effects of bullying can be deeply damaging to the mental health of a victim of bullying. Nasty words and actions can change the way that an individual sees themselves, affecting their self-confidence throughout their life.

Society is changing and more needs to be done to combat these changes and new requirements. More help needs to be provided on how to deal with this new type of bullying.

Cyber bullying.

I decided to create a short film to form the basis for an anti-bullying campaign with the aim to encourage young people to consider the lasting mark that they can leave on others and to raise awareness for bullying. It is based around the use of ink and marks left on surfaces to represent the damage left on victims of bullying.

It is aimed at a teenage audience to encourage them to think about the power and effect of their words on others. I think that film can be a very powerful way to do this because of the addition of sound and image to work together. I think the poem is very captivating and emotive and paired with the visuals really encourages people to think and be engaged.

Key Research

Bullying:  “The repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power”

Nearly a quarter of children don’t tell anyone if they are being bullied (ABA, Immediate Media Co 2015)

Being a victim of bullying increases the risk of being depressed later in life by more than half. Bullying others increases the risk of becoming depressed by 30%. (Farringdon et al, 2012)

In particular, cyber bullying is seeing an increase in cases reported, likely to be due to the increasing use of devices such as mobile phones and the widespread use of social media among young people.

It saw 4,507 cases of cyberbullying in 2012-13, up from 2,410 in 2011-12.

Poem Analysis

I began by annotating and analysing the contents of the poem. I chose to cut the poem down into chunks in order to start coming up with ideas for visualisations and concepts.

I began by drawing out ideas that I associated with specific words from the poem. I split the poem into one line a page to create focus. I started thinking about actions and how images would allow clean transitions. A few examples of sketchbook pages are displayed below:

Sketches poem ideas 1Sketches poem ideas 2

From analysing the poem, I identified that the main messages that I could portray in my animation could be:

  • The current issue of cyber bullying – a growing problem in today’s society – Anonymous messaging and how bullies hide behind a screen
  • Relate the animation to contemporary technology (the use of social media and           mobile phones to communicate).
  • Physical/mental damage – the invisibility of mental illness and how this affects the victim throughout their life

Existing Campaigns

I began by looking at examples of films that were used to portray messages relating to bullying and saw that many of these focused on the use of presenting the message through the use of human body language, emotion and using actors to film. This method was effective for making it relatable to a specific target audience and making it seem more like a real life issue. In terms of the video above, I believe that it has a very strong message and is reinforced at the end using a short phrase to sum up their message. It puts the emphasis on a specific context and age group in order to show their audience an example to make it seem like reality.

As a lot of existing campaign videos feature people, I wanted to make my sequence different to the majority by trying to depersonalise and put the emphasis on the concept and overall message rather than generalising. I wanted to make the video not specific to a particular type of person as bullying can happen to anyone no matter your age, gender, ethnicity etc. Therefore, I wanted to put the focus on creating inferences from shapes, and words. This would allow the video to stand out from the rest and tell the story from a different perspective.


Figure 1 (above)

The use of the physical marks on the skin is very powerful as it encourages people to understand the severity of the issue and is very upsetting to see. I believe that it would be very successful for creating leads from their call to action for people to support and get involved with the campaign.

Idea Generation (Concepts)

Love and Hate

I believed that juxtaposing these themes would help to put the emphasis on the negative atmosphere and ideas expressed by the words in the poem.

I began brainstorming and doing some quick sketches for ways to represent friendship, which then resulted in looking at the ways that we show affection and care for others. I thought that this could transfer out to showing how we act with friends vs how we act with “enemies”.

Acts of kindness

I started to think about how the message of the poem could be to treat others with more kindness and spread happiness into each others lives whether strangers or friends. I created a mood board to start to think about how this could be portrayed in animation form. I thought that this could be a powerful approach as it would juxtapose the sadness and destruction of bullying with the positivity and happiness associated with acts of kindness.

Snapchat (Technology)

The next concept that I wanted to explore was to relate to the use of technology particularly by young people in today’s society as cyber bullying is becoming an increasing problem particularly in young people. One of the very popular application used by young people at the moment is Snapchat which could be a medium that a bully would send hateful messages as messages disappear as soon as you have opened them or after 24 hours on a story. I thought that playing with this feature could relate well to the poem as it is titled “To this day“.

I started thinking about how to display this and possibilities for how to develop this further.

  • The impact a day can make – someones mental outlook
  • Look at things that last a day (24 hours)

I think that this is an interesting concept that I would like to explore further in a different project.

Video Games

The next concept for representing visuals for the poem was to link it to video games which are commonly played and enjoyed by a younger target audience which is the age that I would be targeting the film at. The idea was to use the concept that there is always someone that is in control of a character and the actions and choices that they make. This would represent the control that a bully has over their victim.

I thought that using this style would be able to create a contrast between a harmonious beautiful world on the screen with the reality of the issues in the world that we live in.

Power and Control

I decided that the concept which I wanted to move forward with was to look at power and control. I believed that this would provide me with a lot of opportunities and options. Doing the ink bleeding into different materials and making marks with different media seemed a good way to visualise this concept. The main focus by taking this idea forward, would be to ensure that the visuals are distorted and disturbing looking rather than aesthetically pleasing as this would not match the audio and theme of the poem.


Mark making happiness exp 1Mark making happiness exp 2Mark making happiness exp 4Mark making happiness exp 6Fineliner blog 3Scribble close upPinned up experiments blog

I wanted to use mark-making to present the messiness and tangling of thoughts as the victim struggles to see themselves in a different way to how they are addressed/treated by bullies. I used dark colours to try and visualise sadness and negativity.



I started using watercolour and ink to create imagery of ink bleeding into the paper to relate to physical harm that often comes with bullying and to form visuals to support the concept of power and control, which the bully would have over their victim. I also tried chromatography which produced some interesting results.

From this, I could expand further and explore different methods of distorting and using inks to reflect the properties of blood and show aggression and control through movement of the ink.

Materials test

I experimented using ink on different materials such as white fabric, paper and kitchen towel. Ink spreading was most effective on the white fabric as it moved further and created an interesting branch effect. It also produced a more textured and rough surface which I believed fitted my message more efficiently.

Filming Tests


I set up my camera and materials in the photography room and started making some stop motion animations to test the ways that I could create the footage for my sequence.

As further experimentation I filmed ink moving through water. I thought that this visual would be able to symbolise the control that the words/ actions spoken by a bullying can have on the victim.

The ink takes on the movement of the water and spirals with the direction of the current. The water symbolising the bully and the ink representing the victim.

I then decided to try writing out sections of the poem with a real typewriter as I felt that this could make it seem more handmade and less computerised. I hoped that this would match the handmade, rough feel in the footage from the sequence. I felt that the way that the type is made on paper fitted well with the message of power as the letters on a typewriter are punched onto the paper.


To plan the film, I drew out some storyboards so I knew what I needed to film and how long the shots needed to take and to keep organised. I turned this into an animatic to plan the shot ties against my voice over.



Once we had completed our films, we each presented our outcomes in a critique so we could get feedback for improvement before unit submission. One key addition to my film after this was to add a call to action and to contextualise my video as to where it would be shown. I chose to link up the video with Childline as it fitted with my message and target audience and would allow viewers to be directed to somewhere for help.

Submission to Creative Conscience Competition

Once I had submitted for my unit grading at University, I prepared my project to send to the Creative Conscience Awards which is a competition based around social, ethical, sustainable design centred around design for good focusing on a particular user.

This project won a Gold award in the Film and Photography category 2017.


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