IN-House

BBC Ideas:
The Sun, Living with Our Star

The sun’s effects on our daily lives is pretty extensive. Choosing precisely which facts to include in the script was a real challenge.

The sun: it’s not something we think about very often in the modern world. Unlike our sun-worshipping ancestors, we don’t live by its whims in the same way we did before climate control was a thing. But when we heard BBC Ideas–a new short-format video initiative at BBC–had an open call for story pitches, we found ourselves figuratively orbiting around the sun. With the dreary winter days behind us, we wondered: what if the sun affects us more than we think?

The BBC Ideas team thought it was an idea worth exploring. Working closely with BBC Ideas’ Executive Editor Bethan Jinkinson and Commissioning Editor Cordelia Hebblethwaite, we developed a story and collaborated on shaping the look, feel, voice and tone of the piece.

Coincidentally, producing the short has us all thinking about the sun a lot. The team spanned three continents: Michu directed the piece from Austin, Luis Carlos brought it to life in Melbourne, the sound team made music from their studio in Spain. Let’s just say we all pushed against the sunrise at least once.

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A great deal of research and collaboration went into the making of this video. Turns out, the sun’s effects on our daily lives is pretty extensive. Choosing precisely which facts to include in the script was a real challenge.

Lucky for us, we got a collaborator in the nick of time. Turns out that we weren’t the only ones thinking about the sun. The BBC producer connected with Dr. Harry Cliff, a curator at the Science Museum preparing a show called “The Sun: Living with Our Star”. Not only did the show lend the animation it’s new title, Dr. Cliff’s helped make final cuts and narrated the video!

With a solid storyboard onhand, animator Luis Carlos Redondo disappeared into the studio, sharing styleframes and samples along the way. It took nearly nine weeks of nonstop animation to have the first complete cut. Along the way, Luis began itching for more than just some copyrights cleared soundtrack. We needed a sound team to bring everything together–and Francisco Mejía, working with Susana Hernández, did that and much more.

One of the most valuable things we’ve learned over the years is this: no matter how good a first draft is, iteration is key. We took the piece apart many times to make little adjustments or very large ones. When the music angels (Francisco and Susana) joined the project, one such demolition had taken place. But rather than run in the other direction, they took the opportunity to work with us to rebuild it. The sound ended up guiding key portions of the animation. Within a week, it was ready.

And once final edits were done, the video was posted online within hours of having left our servers. Right on time for the Science Museum to open the doors to sunshine seekers and curious minds.

Want even more sun-themed fun? Here’s a mobile background so you can take us with you.