I’ve been a fellow of the RSA for quite a few years now. At first I didn’t know much about them. I received a letter out of the blue asking if I’d like to be a fellow and I decided that have a few letters after my name would look good on my signature. I tried to get involved over the years; read their magazine, listened to the podcasts and tried to attend the odd lecture, which I found difficult, as they seemed to be arranged around the timetables of time-rich geriatrics. Anyway, a lecture finally came along that was at a reasonable time of day, after work, and about a subject close to my heart.
The creator of the hugely successful ‘Animate’ series, Andrew Park, and renowned psychologist, author and professor of public understanding of psychology, Richard Wiseman, would discuss the findings of their recent experiment into whether there’s any empirical evidence that info-graphics and animation make information easier to process and retain, and if so, how?
As an animation producer I’ve been exhorting the benefits of the medium for years, but with very little… actually… no evidence to back it up at all. So, I was hoping that their findings would be favorable obviously.
Richard Wiseman conducted the experiment to contrast viewers’ retention of information in animated versus non-animated films and the findings were amazing.
He asked a group of 1,000 randomly selected subjects of various demographics to visit a website. Here they’d be asked to click on a button, which asked if they would like to view a film. They would then be randomly shown one of two films; one of Richard Wiseman talking to camera (no animation) and another that used the same recording of his voice but was completely animated.
After viewing the film the subjects were then asked a series of question about what they’d just seen. The results were truly astounding; with the un-animated film the subjects retained 69% of the information when asked, which in itself is a pretty good result. But when it came to the animated version the results were astonishing; not only were the animations rated as more likely to be shared and more entertaining, the participants also retained 92% of the information, an increase of 13%!
By all accounts this level of improvement is pretty much unheard of within an educational system where various very talented people have worked extremely hard to achieve increases of just 5%, which is seen as a success.
In the words of Richard “it’s vital that we understand what’s going on because of the shift towards online learning and education. This research has the possibility to change the way we take on information, view it online and teach.”
A great lecture indeed, and with what could be far reaching effects if further research can be carried out - You need to learn Spanish quick? Watch an animated film. You don’t know the history of the Roman Empire? There’s an animated film for that! You were never quite sure about algebra? You get the idea.
Following the lecture questions were taken from the floor with a range of people from different backgrounds contributing to the debate; each one more eloquent and fascinating than the next. I left the building feeling totally invigorated and honored to be part of such a wonderful organisation and I can now say in all honesty that animation will make you more intelligent, and if you want your audience to truly remember your message then animation is for you.
You can listen to a podcast of the lecture here.
Dom Thompson-Talbot FRSA
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