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2D/3D Animation, Illustration, Creative

Problematic Emails

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The Challenge

After finding us here on Wired Sussex, The DIGIT [Digital Futures at Work Research Centre], co-led by the University of Sussex and Leeds tasked us with producing a short animation and supporting infographics to explore the latter. The brief was to convey psychologist Dr Emma Russell’s research into why we send those emails we all wish we hadn’t, and how we can act differently in the future.

It was agreed that we wanted to keep it light and fun. We wanted to engage and disarm people - so decided to convey emotion by characterising the emails themselves. Using emoticons as inspiration we looked at playing with the symbol and shape of a mail icon.

We wanted to easily convey the extremes of how we can come across digitally, as emails can be interpreted the wrong way so easily. Using the top fold of the envelope symbol we created a rig that could easily switch from angry – where the fold creates a frown, to switching up and creating a happy face, where the fold creates a big smile.

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The Results

Using a 1950’s stylistic influence was our way of harking back to a simpler time when we didn’t have to concern ourselves with how our digital personas are perceived and received.

As the ‘bad’ emails arrive the screen changes from light to dark [evoking how mobiles have two display modes] to subtly suggest how negative email behaviour can affect the recipient’s mood in turn.

Subtle reactions and movements from the world surrounding the device again reinforced how impactful sending poor emails can be and in turn affect and influence the response.

We had a lot of fun creating a variety of expressions formed from the top fold of an envelope. Adding various gifs, graphics and symbols really helped reinforce the emotions at play whilst acting as a not so subtle nod to the texting generation.

A series of posters were created as fun warning / wanted posters – highlighting the issues and drawing people in to stop and reflect on how they could act differently.

“Ticktockrobot were a pleasure to work with from start to finish, going above and beyond to deliver an excellent product on time and to budget. We wanted to communicate key insights from the research in a fun and engaging way, illustrating some of the reasons people send problematic emails and how they can act differently. We’re delighted with the results.”

Emma Russell, Chartered Occupational Psychologist

Digital Futures at Work Research Centre

University of Sussex Business School

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