Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: Addiction (an explainer video)

Blake Harris 10.30.2015

With so much great work being done in the animation and explainer video spaces, every week we like to shine a spotlight on an outstanding piece of work. This week’s selection is a smart, stylish and intriguingly persuasive explainer video about why everything we think we know about addiction is wrong.

This explainer video was created by our friends over at In a Nutshell (who, as you may remember, were responsible for those great explainer videos about the ongoing refugee crisis and the unusually dramatic death of bees). For those previously unacquainted with In a Nutshell, they are German animation studio was founded in 2013 by a team of designers, journalists and musicians whose mission is to “make science look beautiful…because it is beautiful.” To this end, they create one video per month to explain things like “like evolution, time, space, global energy or our existence in this strange universe.” And this month, they teamed up with author Johann Hari whose New York Times best-selling book Chasing The Scream takes a closer look at the War on Drugs. With his collaboration, In a Nutshell has just released a wonderful new explainer that challenges conventional thinking on the topic:

3 Things We Love About This Explainer Video: 

1) Degree of Difficulty: Both “Drugs” and “Addiction” are incredibly complicated and polarizing topics. But, to the credit of In a Nutshell, they have managed to beautifully craft a video that dives into both issues and strikes a respectful but critical tone. This is not easy, believe me.

So how are they able to pull it off?

Narration—both in copy and voice—certainly plays a big role. But so too does In a Nutshell’s aesthetic choices. The images below particularly stood out as moments that personified their expertise in this area:

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And in addition to the narration and aesthetic tone, there was one other big reason that this explainer video was so effective…

2) Great Examples and Reference Points: Not only do “Drugs” and “Addiction” represent a pair of uniquely complicated and polarizing topics, but they’re also both significantly complex and inaccessible.

Luckily, the folks at In a Nutshell are able to give the audience a variety of access point into these complex topics by using some specific and grounded examples. By doing this, we are able to wrap our head around the larger concepts and then extrapolate those principles to a larger and more diverse population.

Here are a few of the great examples we are referring to:

Hospital Patients:

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Soldiers in Vietnam:

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Lab Rats:

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Taken together, examples like these add up to create a compelling pastiche for the explainer’s central thesis: The opposite of addiction is not sobriety: it’s connection.

3) Going Beyond the Explainer Video: Most explainer videos end with a call to action. This one, however, goes beyond the norm and offers a variety of additional options to supplement the content in the video.

There’s the book that inspired this video…

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There’s an interactive version of the video available as well:

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And lastly, there’s a link for viewers to support In a Nutshell’s Patreon account so that they can keep making incredible videos like this one…

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Blake Harris

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris

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