Manimation ’15 Report – Innovation in Tech, Process and Workflow

Posted on: Thursday 19 November 2015 3:10pm by Tom Jordan


Gareth Williams (YellowDog)

Wes Wood (ITV)

Sarah Worcester (Motion Graphics)

Tony Churnside (Knowledge Transfer Network)

Moderator/producer: Steve Sharman (Hackthorn Innovation)


  • Discussion on how technology does – and doesn’t – support the work of storytellers
  • Creatives discussed how the ever-increasing raft of technology is hard to keep track of, and keep up to date with
  • Software developers talked about how it is important to create tools with the end user in mind
  • Audience members raised their concerns about the difficulty of smaller companies being able to have tailored tools developed for them
  • There was a consensus between creative and ‘techies’ that often the software may be sophisticated, but not user-friendly or intuitive.


The main question being discussed was how useful, or how frustrating, is the technology that the panel – and industry in general – regularly encounter in their work. The varied panel came from positions across the spectrum, from end users of animation technology, to people tasked with coming up with software solutions.

Wes Wood cited one source of frustration that, as a producer having to stay on top of the whole process, there are just too many pieces of technology to keep track of to be able to get the full picture at any one point, particularly when producing a multi-media project.

Motion Graphics artist and recent graduate Sarah Worcester said that a big frustration for her was the way in which some tools require the purchase of plug-ins or other software extensions further down the line, which can compromise the ability to complete a project.

Questions from the audience also reflected some of these concerns, with animators working in one format but then finding clients wanting output in a different format (such as 4K to 8K resolution).

The two other panel members both gave a technology development perspective.

Tony Churnside said part of his role was to come up with technological tools that help a specific project to come to fruition. But although the aim at the start of a project was often to create software that could have further application afterwards, what invariably happened was that the technology ended up being specifically tailored to that project’s needs, making it not particularly useable for other ventures.

Gareth Williams had a different approach; he said it is vital that technology developers take an ‘outside-in’ approach – that is, understanding exactly what the end user’s requirements are at the outset and making sure the product is useable and serves its purpose.

Other points discussed were:

  • The usefulness of applications such as WeTransfer, Dropbox and Slack (which helps co-ordinate various communications strands)
  • Creatives sometimes being nervous of ‘standards’ being imposed upon them by software, although it was argued that sometimes these ‘standards’ can actually help the creative process gain focus.
  • The overriding feeling from all was that, regardless of the technology, the story should always remain paramount.

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Tom Jordan

About the author

Tom Jordan

Freelance, Writer

Tom is a freelance writer and editor based in Sheffield. He has over a decade of experience in travel publishing, writing for National Geographic Traveller, Sunday Times Travel Magazine and CNN, among others, and editing for travel guide books. His recent focus has also been as a development editor in… Read more