Students work with BBC to produce animation for Mental Health Awareness Week

Press Office

Students in the School of Engineering and Digital Arts (EDA) have worked with the BBC to produce a five-minute animation documenting mental health treatment as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

The animation tells the story of Sophie, who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, and details her experiences with mental health services in the UK.

The piece was produced by four final year students, three from the BA in Digital Arts, Sophia Ppali, Roan Caulfield and Rhianna Taylor and one from the BSc in Multimedia Technology and Design, Samantha Body.

Students used a range of software to create the animation, including Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe Photoshop. Ania Bobrowicz, Senior Lecturer in Digital Arts at EDA, who oversaw the work, said it had been a great way for the students to put their skills into practice.

‘On our digital media programmes students gain both the theoretical and practical understanding of working in the digital domain. This was a challenging and exciting project, which allowed students to showcase their creative ideas and technical knowledge and work on a topical project for a real-life client. The result is a professional quality animation for a national broadcaster.’

Sophia Ppali, who worked on the 3D elements of the video, including storyboarding, set design and lighting, said the project had been a fantastic experience to help push the students to deliver a high-quality piece of work for a real-life client.

‘Working with the BBC was rewarding as we got to animate a story that will have an impact. As it was a client project we pushed ourselves to achieve the best possible and professional result and I think it really paid off as it brought us out of our comfort zones and we got to learn so much.’

Samantha Body, who worked on the 2D infographic animations in the video, added: ‘It has been great to use the technologies and skills that we have learnt throughout our degrees and apply them to something really worthwhile for our final year projects. All in all it has been a very rewarding experience.​’

The partnership developed after a discussion between the BBC and the University’s Head of Press Relations about how students could help with new digital storytelling techniques, particularly on sensitive issues where a different approach to standard journalism is required.

Commenting on the partnership a BBC spokesperson said: ‘It was great for BBC South East and the University of Kent to work together on this animation to tell the powerful story of mental health in young people. It really is a special piece of work and it’s a testament to the creative and technical expertise of the students Roan, Rhianna, Sophia and Sammy, under the guidance of senior lecturer Ania Bobrowicz.’

The video can be watched on the BBC South East website.