At Lifeology, we are all about using visuals and storytelling to communicate about science. Much like our flashcard courses, which are bite-sized card decks, one of our Lifeology Community members created a bite-sized (pun definitely intended, here!) project to communicate to her Instagram followers about Earth Day last year. Below, she tells us more about that project and leaves readers with a feeling of appreciation for the planet we live on.
It had been about a month into the first lockdown in my city in Canada, and I was not coping well with it. Everything I had been looking forward to had been cancelled and some great opportunities were missed. I was not doing well.
Then I saw that the short animated film based on a book of my favorite children’s book illustrator was going to be released for Earth Day 2020. Oliver Jeffer’s Here We Are had been adapted for a short film.
Simple, yet beautiful animations can convey emotions that are hard to express otherwise. That film, which is a celebration of Earth, immediately inspired me to make my own appreciation story to celebrate the beauty of our unique planet. In the film, the main characters eat Earth-themed pancakes for breakfast, and I wanted to recreate those pancakes 16 times so I could create a short animation of a rotating Earth and a “photo essay” to accompany it.
This entire project was created within one morning. First, I looked for a reference online of the different angles of Earth’s rotation. Those images had to be mirrored in order to recreate a shape for the pancakes because the pancakes would be flipped once they were done cooking. I made a double batch of my pancake mix and separated a small part of it to add some cocoa powder to it to create a distinction between land and oceans.
After some quick experimentation using different utensils to draw the shapes and finding the appropriate pan temperature, I started making my pancakes. I didn’t allow myself to create any pancake twice and invited the imperfections. It wasn’t about creating the perfect frame, but rather making it evident that it was food being animated. Once those 16 pancakes were ready, the animation process could begin. Stop motion is a very time-consuming form of animation, but the process is extremely rewarding for the creator.
I knew I wanted to create a short visual story to share on Instagram as a reminder of Earth Day. Over the last year, I’ve discovered how much I enjoy creating elaborate stories to share on Instagram, as the Instagram Stories option offers me a good platform to combine photo and video for an audience who likely has a short attention span but can read through some slides.
This specific story received such a great response on Instagram. Even the animation studio and animators of the original film shared my story on their profiles and contacted me to chat briefly about the project. Sharing that story led to a series of interesting conversations with people I don’t talk to regularly and that’s always my biggest reward when I make a story.
When good design, art, and important messages work together well in a piece of work, it truly sparks meaningful conversations and inspires action.
As fascinating as space exploration might be, I don’t believe it should ever distract us from making sure that we do everything in our control to preserve the only planet, to our knowledge, to host life. This is where the plants grow that provide us all sorts of colorful foods. This is where humans are born and follow their dreams of uncovering the mysteries and secrets of human biology and the universe. The biodiversity found naturally on this earth is so far unparalleled and incredibly hard for us to recreate in any other environment. Earth has offered us the ideal conditions to evolve into humans capable of feeling emotions, coming up with new ideas and even allowed us to make some bad decisions that we can then learn from.
Sometimes it’s easy to ignore all the fascinating creatures living all around us, some microscopic and some hidden in waters we haven’t even reached yet. The world is both such a small place and humongous at the same time. There have even been more humans to the moon than to the deepest parts of our oceans and we know far less about it.
Earth deserves to be conserved and valued not only for the romantic reasons mentioned earlier but for practical and moral reasons as well. Who are we to claim Earth as ours? It’s a shared space for all of us—the humans, the non-human-beings (who sometimes behave in more humane ways than we do), the tiny-almost-invisible creatures, and everything that hasn’t even been discovered yet.
The awe I feel when I reflect on what the Earth is and what it provides fills me with a new sense of wonder whenever I really need a new hope. That’s why that short animated film was so inspiring in a moment of frustration and led me to spend 3 hours on 16 breakfast pancakes just to remember how beautiful this place is and everything it allows us to experience.
Stephie Reimer is a Mexican-Canadian storyteller, illustrator and designer who often can’t sit still because of all the ideas floating around in her mind. She’s identified herself as technically-an-adult-with-childlike-energy currently living in Waterloo, ON, Canada finishing her Bachelor of Knowledge Integration. If that degree makes no sense to you, you’re welcome to reach out to her to talk about it. You can find her on Twitter @ReimerStephie or Instagram @stephie.rr
I'm the Science Writer and Communications Specialist at Lifeology. I'm excited by the potential for visuals to engage people with health and science information. I think it is important to bring visibility to science and make it accessible to all!