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UCL CLOSER - Longitudinal Studies

Cheerfully Explaining the Benefits of Longitudinal Studies


Longitudinal studies are studies that are carried out over long periods of time, spanning lifetimes. For this reason, they provide a host of benefits over shorter studies. UCL’s CLOSER research department wanted to show potential researchers  the value of using this approach. The main task was doing so in an interesting way to engage viewers and encourage them to find out more.


We created a series of animations, packed with character, charm and a dash of humour. Each animation was packed with distinctive scenes, each with its own concept, helping illustrate points in a unique way.

The videos acted as a lure to draw people into the website where more detailed information was situated. For this reason, we were particular with the amount of information we shared, in order to peak their interest and will them to find out more.

Designing a Cast

The animation consists of a large collection of characters, illustrating the scope of the research data collected. We wanted to imbue personality in each individual we created, which we achieved through their appearance and clothing, but more importantly through their movement.

It was important to strike a balance between moments of larger, more over-the-top motion, such as a gentleman carrying a giant birthday cake, with moments of more subtle motion, such as the lady gently peeking out from behind the birthday cake. This creates a world which is both believable and entertaining. Subtle secondary motion such as hair and clothing moving in the wind as a bus races past, further helps the animation to come alive.

Creating Interest Through Variety

For each scene, we implemented a completely new concept. From a bus picking up and dropping off passengers, to a giant game of snakes and ladders, each scene is designed to add interest to the animation.

Importantly, the concepts for each scene were designed with their content in mind. So a ‘Guess Who’ game became a great way to show how a sample of people was reduced, while a video camera fast forward motif helped illustrate clearly how characters changed over time.

Mixing up these concepts frequently ensures that the scenes remain fresh throughout.

Stimulating Sound Design

For this series we proposed series of charming, lighthearted soundtracks, rather than reusing one across all of the videos. Selecting a series of soundtracks gave each animation it’s own distinct personality. With a total of 6 minutes of animation, this furthered the feeling of novelty across each video.

Finding soundtracks that were different but still harmonious was key; the tracks needed their own personality but were still required to feel like a set.


"The response from the research community has been very positive. Lecturers and policymakers have remarked that these animations made longitudinal studies easier to understand. They were full of creative solutions and were great to work with."