Getting Animated About Human Rights

A stunning animation brings a simple text document to life.

I greatly admired this video when I first saw it during the past election season, but could never carve out time to write about it. Perhaps this will serve as a good way to finish off the holiday season and kick off the New Year, both creatively and spiritually.

This music video – a voiceless, text-based recitation of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – was animated by Seth Brau using a combination of After Effects and Illustrator. Seth restricted himself to a two-tone palette and a flat text+pencil animation style that flows continuously from scene to scene, often ingeniously taking advantage of continuous rasterization inside After Effects to zoom up or back from one section to another. The result is quite powerful and moving. More on the piece can be found at Cool Hunting; a higher-quality half-HD version can be viewed on Human Rights Action Center‘s web site.

What I personally found most amazing (beyond the excellent animation job) was how this seemingly radical document was actually penned 60 years ago by – wait for it – Eleanor Roosevelt(!). There is a petition to have this declaration included in passports; it’s just a gesture, but a worthy one methinks. There were only 2000 signatures when I joined right after Christmas; add you name and help push the total up.

Then go watch the video again and be inspired to try something like this yourself in 2009!

(By the way, if “claymation” is more your style than Helvetica – and if you have 20 minutes to spare – you might try the Amnesty International animation below. It’s more educational, but in my humble opinion, does not have the same visceral impact as Seth’s animation.)


Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including “Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects” and “After Effects Apprentice” both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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