This project was centered around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that were created in 2015 to “transform our world.” The 16 goals outlined by the UN cover a multitude of issues that our world faces including climate change, poverty, gender equality, quality education, and justice institutions. Given the ability to choose any topic to focus in on, I decided to dig deeper into the issue of the justice system in the United States and certain inequalities that people face in that system. During my research I looked into many different issues pertaining to the justice system such as racial inequality, mass incarceration, mandatory minimums and sentencing, and protecting family units affected by the justice system. However, the single topic I was most interested in and personally touched by while researching and getting to know the justice system was re-entry into society for ex-convicts. This issue is all about helping those who have been previously incarcerated get re-integrated with society. Getting jobs, housing, and proper rehabilitation is key to helping those people stay out of prison and stop the all-too-familiar cycle of re-incarceration in the United States.

During the making of this video my goal was to bring my audience to a full realization of what re-entry is, and how it is failing so many in the United States. I wanted to impart on my audience a sense of responsibility to reverse the discrimination and lack of care shown to ex-convicts. Many people who have no connection to the justice system are ambivalent to the many barriers that stop ex-convicts from fully reentering society.

Creating a Concept

One of my biggest challenges in this project was coming up with a cohesive concept and the execution of the animation. It took me a lot of research and thought to come up with a concept that would tie all of my ideas and audio footage together into one story. During this stage I began finding common themes in my research and then brainstorming possible metaphors to better convey those recurring themes. In the end, I came up with the concept of creating a metaphor between an ex-convicts experience with re-entry and the hidden costs of a bill; even after these ex-convicts have paid their debt to society through prison time, they continue to face hidden costs through the struggles of re-entry. This concept guided the form of animation I chose to use as well as the script that created that tie between the visuals shown and the audio heard.

Visual Storytelling

With my concept, I began to test out different animation and motion visuals to complement that concept. Beginning with the idea of using lines to highlight images, the visual style I decided to use stories through found audio footage of ex-convicts who have faced the harsh reality of re-entry in the United States in order to give a “realer” sense of the issue. Working with the audio footage I gathered through research, I decided to choose a visual approach to the video that would create images out of the things that were being said. I used the method of rotoscoping to create line animations of four distinct scenes/examples of how re-entry has failed.

Design Approach