Teach For America

For decades, Memphis has made itself the center of traditional job markets such as manufacturing and logistics, industries that are making rapid advancements in automation and artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, it’s predicted that jobs in these crucial local industries will not exist by the time today’s first-graders graduate from high school.  

Through their network of former teachers and thought leaders, the Memphis chapter of Teach For America is uniquely positioned to tackle this challenge and help equip a generation of globally-ready citizens with the tools to lead our communities forward. They wanted an animated piece to launch a massive 20 year initiative to reimagine education in our city and approached us to help visually bring those goals to life.

First step: discovery & exploration

We began with an extensive discovery process, working alongside the client to learn the broad scope of TFA’s challenges in order to compose a script that succinctly captured and conveyed them within the confines of a 2 minute video. Once we landed on a final script, we moved to storyboarding to establish how to visually represent the message in a compelling way, working through scenes and transitions to create a full scope for asset creation.

From script to storyboard to final product

From the script:

“But now, more than ever, we must gather more innovators and explorers to help us equip a generation of globally-ready citizens with the tools to lead our communities forward.”


(Okay, there were a few more steps in between.)

Art direction

When establishing art direction, it was important to choose a visual language that both represented TFA and positioned the topic at hand in an easily digestible form. We chose a limited color palette that aligns with Teach For America’s brand standards, and a simplified style with touches of detail to speak to a broader educational experience.

In preparation for animation, we explored styles for teachers, students, settings, and even transportation. The people are built from simple organic shapes with geometric aspects and minimal detail. The architecture is geometric, and the landscapes are curvy.


The storyboards were translated into scenes and then built out in layers for easy translation to Adobe AfterEffects where the animating takes place.

Prepping for animation

With the scenes built, we created an animatic, or preliminary version of the animation using successive storyboard stills and a voice-over of the script to establish pacing for the animation. The animatic also allowed us to go through much of the revision process without having to alter the final animation, which saves a lot of time and headache for both parties involved.

Snippet of an early animatic

Snippet of an early animatic


The final step

Once pacing was established, revisions finished, and the voice-over complete, we came to the final and most time-consuming part of the process: animation. Within AfterEffects, individual elements were animated and compiled together into the complex scenes of multiple moving parts that make up the complete animation.

The final animation clocked in at two minutes and fifteen seconds.