The use of animation in the medium of documentary can be extremely effective and powerful if done right. One example of such an animation would be a video posted last year by company TechCrunch on our Earth’s deep oceans. Through the use of animation, we are able to follow a diver down to the bottom of the ocean, exploring all of the life and human history marked by each meter on the descent. As the narrator continues listing facts about certain depths, images come onto the screen that deal directly with the verbal topic at hand during that moment. For example, with the mention of new fish that have been discovered at certain depths, the fish do not simply “appear” in the frame, but rather swim into it upon the mention of their name, making the entire thing seem all the more natural.
The animation for this video is rather simple, but it is that simplicity that makes it so effective. Due to the use of keyframes and limited movement in the creatures, there is incredibly minimal movement on screen and allows the animators to emphasize certain parts to make them all the more powerful. At the mention of the Mariana Trench, a graphic of Mount Everest is pushed into frame and quickly descends, taking up a large portion of the screen. Due to the animation style and the minimal movement, much larger actions like this seem to carry all the more weight and look even more powerful.
While documentary animation may just be starting to get bigger, the possibilities it holds are endless.