Pratt students animate Student Talks ideas!

Photo: Dian Lofton / TED

Photo: Dian Lofton / TED

For the past two years, TED-Ed and Pratt’s Department of Digital Arts have provided undergraduate students the opportunity to create animations for the Student Talks Program. Mike Enright, Pratt’s Adjunct Associate Professor of Digital Arts, and our very own Animation Director, Lisa LaBracio, spearheaded the mission in an effort to merge student ideas with student animations!

“I was given the opportunity to create a space in the curriculum where our students could get a taste of what life may be like after school,”


shared Enright. For Pratt students, this collaboration provided the opportunity to both build their professional artistic skills and to collaborate with producers and clients on a broader vision. “Being able to translate their talent to this task in an academic environment allows my students to test the waters in the familiarity of a classroom environment,” said Enright.

For this year’s animations, Pratt students drew inspiration directly from published TED-Ed Student Talks. Angela Xiao, Claire Wan Hua Hsieh, Ana Chang, and Alistair Rice animated Learning to Listen based off Student Talks member Naomi Miller’s experience of finding common ground amidst conflicting viewpoints.

“I chose the idea with a message that resonated most with me. I believe that Naomi makes a really good point about the significance of listening to other perspectives, especially now that the world has become more globalized,”


said Xiao, who directed the piece. Their animation adopted imagery from nature and the elements (fire and water), culminating in a flowing watercolor piece.

Still from "Learning to Listen"

Still from “Learning to Listen”

“This project taught me the importance of looking at the big picture. I realized that the best way to move forward effectively within a tight deadline is to take a step back from the work and identify the missing elements,” explained Xiao.

The second animation, Facing my Fears, focused on Student Talks member Kia Uusitalo’s story about overcoming stage fright. Pratt students Krstina Mastilovic, Aidan Stadler, and Matthew Brennan translated Uusitalo’s journey from anxious to confident speaker through vibrant colors and vivid visuals (featuring heads transforming into big gaping eyes!).

Still  from "Facing my Fears"

Still from “Facing my Fears”

“I never held an organizational/production role as part of my job, so keeping track of that on top of my creative responsibilities was definitely a new challenge for me,”

Mastilovic said about her experience directing the project. 

Once the project wrapped, Pratt students ventured to TED Headquarters for a screening of their work and met with TED-Ed animators and producers for a behind-the-scenes look at the workflow for TED-Ed lessons.

For more on the TED-Ed and Pratt partnership, check out last year’s animation projects: The Thread, Bear With It, and Pass the Mic.