Explainer fun with Character Animator

For the past few months, I've been thinking a lot about how we can make better quick-turnaround video explainers.

Today's quick-turnaround social media explainers lack personality and aren't character-driven. The second problem: many long-form stories make concepts feel complicated and unapproachable for their audience.

California had a much-needed wet winter, but now that record mountain snowpack is starting to melt.

Adobe has new beta Creative Cloud program called  Adobe Character Animator. It allows you to quickly and easily bring a 2D character to life using your webcam and microphone.

It's so fun to play with!

This software got me thinking about making character-driven explainers that make a complicated concept approachable and fun for our audience.


Check out a pitch about this that l presented at KPCC.

I originally called this idea "anthropomorphizing the news," but my co-workers told me that sounded creepy.

Schoolhouse Rock's "I'm Just a Bill" is a perfect example of transforming what could have been a dry explainer into a character-driven narrative.

You keep watching because you're rooting for the poor little bill!


The explainer at the top of this post has been a small side project for the last six weeks. To make this a minimal-effort project, I used wire and file images, and voiced it myself.

Software/equipment: The character was designed in Adobe Illustrator. I recorded a separate audio file in the KPCC studios. The facial expressions and auto phoneme lip sync were recorded in Adobe Character Animator. The arm movements were key-framed in Adobe After Effects. The whole video was cut together using Adobe Premeire Pro.

This video is the first of further iterations. I'd like to simplify the production process even more.

I'd love to hear your feedback!

The Hairstyles of Key & Peele

Amanda Mofield, department head hairstylist for the Comedy Central show, “Key & Peele,” did 32 different looks for the first East/West College Bowl skit.

We did three of those [sketches], so I had [96] of those characters that they had to be,” said Mofield. “So whatever hair I could find, we would throw it together.
— Amanda Mofield