An animated guide to land grabs

We’re always interested in new, creative routes into some of the challenging issues we need to communicate to supporters. So when animator Tim Wheatley approached us last year, we were keen to see what he could do around the theme of land grabs. It’s a compelling subject – but it’s just not on most people’s radar. Tim’s animation sets out to help us change all that. Here, he tells us all about his creative process.

I started work on this film last august. Ten months and 1,704 hand drawn frames later it’s finally finished. It’s been great working alongside Oxfam creating something that could really make a difference and will hopefully raise awareness of such terrifying events. 

A couple of years ago I worked on a campaign film and really enjoyed it, so last august when I started my final year of Digital Animation at Falmouth University I wrote to Oxfam to see if they had any need of an animation. They sent me the topic of Land Grabs which I was totally unaware of when I started. But after reading up about these huge land deals it became clear that animation would work really nicely to tell these stories and could have a real impact.

Here’s an example page from my sketchbook, showing how my initial ideas started out:

The film is a real mix of traditional and digital techniques. I love working with Linocut prints and really wanted to make the whole film using this technique, I looked at a lot of print makers for inspiration but the work of Fred Mutebi stood out and helped me design the characters and the feel of the film.
story board
Due to the timescale of the project I couldn’t carve and print every frame but all the backgrounds are hand printed using linocuts and then hand painted with watercolour.
I then used digital techniques to animate the characters. Every frame the character is redrawn in a slightly different position using some computer software and its then digitally painted by hand using a graphics tablet. All these different elements were put together using some compositing software where shadows and anything extra is added. Dave Gerard kindly let us use his beautiful track ‘stables’ which really brings the film to life.

Please watch the film and if you like it, share it!

Find out more about Tim’s work here.