Bo-splains is a short animated feature in which Bo explains the intricacies of human society to other dogs. In this episode, Bo delves into the notion of a Boys' Club in the structural Patriarchy, and has his lovely friend Freyja guest star in order to illustrate his point.
This project was my first foray into Adobe After Effects, and uses all my own illustrations. Please excuse any vagaries in "Bo voice," it seems Bo is not used to saying such large words for such a sustained amount of time. He doesn't think it's his best vocal work.
Much of the systempic inequality and gender- and race-based oppression indemic to our society rests on illogical assumptions people fail to question. In breaking down the complex issues into their base and simplistic arguments, as if for a dog to explain to other dogs, the absurdity of the inequalities and double standards come to the fore.
Once I decided to focus on the exclusionary concept of the Boy's Club, prevalent in many sectors of society, I wrote a short script for "Bo" to read. It focuses on the lack of interest in skill or ability in determining success or opportunity, but solely gender. An atmosphere of a homemade theater, complete with squeaky metal pulleys and rope holding up painted backdrops, brings to mind the nostalgic "the more you know" public service announcements and educational documentaries and exhibitions. I did a few sketches then created a storyboarded of the previously written script.
After getting feedback on the storyboard from a few peers, and implementing a few small changes to the script and visual design plan, I illustrated the visual assets required for the animation. I knew I wanted Bo to "speak" the words, so I mapped out a few very basic mouth movements based on the shape of my own mouth when saying the words of the script. These corresponded to closed, open, and half-open positions of Bo's mouth and beard.
I added in several small movements to both dogs to add interest and life to the flat illustrations, including a tail wag for Freyja and ear flicks and paw shuffles for Bo. One of the most endearing movements of Bo's is his little glasses adjustment he makes while sitting at his desk.
The simplistic animation needed for the homemade theater conceit correlated with my own beginner-animator abilities. I taught myself how to do each animation needed in Adobe After Effects through online tutorials and help from friends, as I had no prior experience with animation or AE itself. After a couple motion graphics classes, I now have a list of rough edges to smooth out – including the natural look of the dogs' movements and the ball bounce. But for a first attempt I think it went well.
After fine-tuning the animation in the original Bosplains episode, more episodes are planned. An episode about the gender disparity in heart attack depictions in the media is currently in the storyboarding phase. Only men's symptoms are ever portrayed in tv and films, so many women are completely unaware when they are having one themselves – the symptoms are different – to disasterous results.
There are many ways in which our human society is illogical and disproportionately weighted in favor of one group over another. Bo has much fodder for his future episodes – much to explain to other dogs, and at the same time much to highlight about the absurdity of it all.