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Learning how to think in pictures

“Analysing history and putting historical events in the form of an animation is anything but easy but it is worth the effort”, says Anna Sieväla from Finland. Anna enrolled in the workshop “Thinking in Pictures – Visualising Conclusions of the HistoryCampus” of the HistoryCampus Europe 14/14 in Berlin in May. Anna is one of fifteen group members from nine different countries. Members and workshop leaders have just begun to introduce themselves to each other on the YHF platform. Not with words but – true to the workshop format – with a drawing that says five things about themselves.

During the workshop in Berlin, they will be producing RSA Animate Style Videos. RSA videos are short films which illustrate content and visualise interpretations, theses or controversies through a combination of drawing and talking. Janosch Delcker is a journalist and one of two workshop leaders. “RSA Animate Style Videos have become a classic among whiteboard animations,” Janosch says. “They are a prime example of the ‘keep it short and simple’ principle. Participants will only have blotting pads, pens and a camera at their disposal to explain complex issues.” Tina Gotthardt, historian and second workshop leader presumes that “issues selected by the participants might include “demonising images of the enemy”, “consequences of the war”, or the Paris Peace Treaty”.

Anna produced an RSA video before. In a EUSTORY seminar in Ronda, Spain, last year, she produced a video that dealt with stereotypes. Her group wanted to show how stereotypes had been used in history. Since they started in the Stone Age, there was quite a long stretch of history left to be analysed. “After we had chosen the events we wanted to include in the animation, there was the task of choosing what things we wanted to focus on”, Anna says.  “People tend to know all kinds of details about things they are interested in, but not all can be said in a short animation – neither is it necessary or wise to include everything. Therefore, we had to think which pieces of information were needed in order to make our point and which details were simply unnecessary. The manuscript of the pictures also has to be done with care so that the voice and the drawings complement each other instead of confusing the viewer.“

Anna is very excited and expects clever results in the form of an informative animation.