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HomeMotion GraphicsMotionographer® Challenge Breakdown: The Transatlantic Slave Commerce

Motionographer® Challenge Breakdown: The Transatlantic Slave Commerce

To spherical off Black Historical past Month, we take an unflinching have a look at the painful historical past that helped form present-day America.

The Transatlantic Slave Commerce is a robust animated quick produced by inventive firm Reunion in partnership with The Equal Justice Initiative. The movie provides a stark reminder that false narratives and contradictions allowed a younger America’s industrial success to be constructed on the backs of enslaved and unpaid labor.

This piece gained Open Format Brief Movie at The Movement Awards 2022 and is a part of a collection of six movies obtainable completely at The Legacy Museum in Alabama.

We welcome inventive director and founding father of Reunion, Chris Carboni, as he delves into the year-long journey of creating these vital movies a actuality.

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Give us a quick introduction to your self and the studio.

I’m the Inventive Director and Founding father of Reunion, an NYC-based inventive firm telling impactful tales by way of artwork, design, and movement. We elevate manufacturers, entertain audiences, empower start-ups, and amplify causes. We additionally create authentic, internally-produced content material to make you suppose and really feel.

001 TST Style

Fashion exploration for THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE. Created by Chris Carboni

Fill us in in your background and what led you to Movement Design.

I come from a household of artists and have cherished visible storytelling for so long as I can bear in mind. These passions led me to the Rhode Island College of Design, the place I studied Graphic Design and Illustration earlier than specializing in Animation as a significant. 

After graduating in 2007, I found the Movement Design group and realized this business exists on the intersection of every thing I cherished. Over time, I’ve labored as a designer, animator, director, artwork director, inventive director, and studio proprietor.

Reunion Team Pic

A small portion of the worldwide workforce that labored on this mission.

How would you introduce your mission to somebody expecting the primary time? 

The Transatlantic Slave Commerce is concerning the many disparate contributors whose mixed actions allowed slavery to perform in America and the flowery false narrative put in place to realize public assist for the enslavement of Black individuals – the outcomes of which proceed to form American life in the present day.

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Clip from THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE. Animation by Andy Kennedy.

Are you able to inform us concerning the collection this piece is part of? 

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The Transatlantic Slave Commerce is a part of a collection of six movies, every specializing in a unique period in our nation’s historical past. The movies are presently on show for public viewing at The Legacy Museum alongside sculptures, installations, and different historic artifacts from the time.



The mission was produced in shut collaboration with The Equal Justice Initiative with the aim of teaching the general public and aiding of their mission to finish mass incarceration, extreme punishment, and racial inequality.

Beneath you’ll see clips from a number of the different movies within the collection, beginning with “The Northern Cities”, which focuses on dismantling the falsehood that the southern states had been the one ones to revenue off of the enslavement of Black individuals.

In actuality, the people, industries, and communities that benefited from slavery had been huge.

Inform us concerning the workforce behind your mission.

On condition that these movies had been supposed to be seen in a museum setting, we determined that every ought to have its personal distinctive method to design and animation – making certain that the viewing expertise would stay charming as visitors made their means by way of the sprawling exhibit. 

To realize this, we assembled totally different groups of artists for every of the six movies, leading to an enormous manufacturing spanning a number of continents. 

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Clips from PUNISHMENT IN AMERICA. Animation by Keaton Ideas

On the core of this large-scale ever-shifting collaboration remained our companions at The Equal Justice Initiative. EJI’s workforce of students, administrators, and creatives had been our closest collaborators to the purpose the place the road between consumer and company vanished. 

Rounding out this unbelievable group had been our audio companions at Sanctus and our unbelievable solid of narrators – together with Don Cheadle, Wendell Pierce, and Bryan Stevenson. Full credit may be discovered on our web site.

We had been extraordinarily lucky to have labored with such a unprecedented set of gifted individuals. EJI did an unbelievable job casting the movies. 

Every narrator felt like an ideal match. For instance, Punishment in America (our sixth movie within the collection) delves into a number of the darkest subject material of all the exhibit.

I couldn’t think about that movie being narrated by somebody apart from Bryan Stevenson (founding father of The Equal Justice Initiative), who has devoted his life to legal justice reform and whose measured vocal efficiency carries us by way of what I contemplate to be probably the most unflinching movie of the collection.

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Clip from PUNISHMENT IN AMERICA. Animation by Djeison Canuto and Giovanni Grant

Take us by way of your course of. How lengthy did it take? What strategies did you employ? What applications are you utilizing?

The collection was created over roughly one 12 months, with every movie taking anyplace from 2-5 months to provide, relying on the size and scope of the content material. 

And since we needed them every to really feel distinctive, our method to manufacturing was ever-changing. One factor that remained fixed, nonetheless, was the necessity for an prolonged storyboard part with a view to make certain we had been telling these tales appropriately.

Storyboard snippet from THE COLFAX MASSACRE.


Usually, the scripts influenced our course of.

The Colfax Bloodbath (our first movie within the collection) is an intimate recounting of a single, heartbreaking act of violence.

It referred to as for an artwork route that felt appropriately darkish and bodily – one which reminds the viewer of the human loss on the middle of its story. 

004 Colfax Eye

Design from THE COLFAX MASSACRE. Created by Chris Carboni.

So, the design for this movie relied closely on hand-painted photos created by way of a mixture of Photoshop and ink on paper. And our method to movement relied primarily on cel animation (additionally in Photoshop) with blocking specified by Cinema 4D.

Our course of for The Transatlantic Slave Commerce was fairly totally different. Given the sweeping, sprawling nature of this movie’s historic account – a story that spans many places by way of a few years – we knew we would have liked the viewer to have the ability to observe the thread of occasions simply. So it was vital that our method to design be cinematic, clear, and direct. We labored in Illustrator and Photoshop for design, whereas the animation was achieved in Cinema 4D and After Results.

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Clip from THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE. Animation by Andy Kennedy.

Punishment in America was our most difficult movie to make. It focuses on the brutal punishments and the violent constraints on freedom which were inflicted upon Black People from 1619 to the current day. The movie chronicles this devastating legacy over 4 centuries, from the barbaric practices confronted by enslaved Black individuals to the atrocities of the convict-leasing program, during current day, the place the US has the very best incarceration charge on this planet.

007 Punishment Kids

Design from PUNISHMENT IN AMERICA. Created by Kim Dulaney and Florencia Lopez.”

That is our longest movie, and the script options graphic descriptions of violence, so we allotted a full seven weeks for storyboarding, and we developed an artwork route that may very well be efficient at speaking each actually and metaphorically. This was vital, contemplating the movie would want to serve a multigenerational viewers. We needed to provide you with visuals that had been truthful however not gratuitous. 

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Design from PUNISHMENT IN AMERICA. Created by Kim Dulaney.

Our method to design for this movie attracts inspiration from many various sources – the work of Emory Douglas, Black Panther literature, protest signage, and the risograph printing technique, to call a couple of, in addition to the numerous pictures and illustrations we encountered throughout our analysis. Combining all of those parts, we then integrated gestural brush strokes, handwriting, scribbled traces and rolled ink – all in service of an aesthetic that feels appropriately daring but unembellished. Reliable with out feeling chilly and archival.

A particular shout out to one among our Artwork Administrators, Elena Chudoba, for her contributions to the super quantity of analysis that went into establishing this design language.

010 Punishment Type Explore

Early sort exploration/analysis.

Our method to animation encompassed 3D strategies, stop-motion, cel animation in Photoshop, and 2D animation in After Results. A whole lot of credit score goes to steer animators Djeison Canuto and Giovanni Grant for locating inventive options throughout a manufacturing that required protecting a whole lot of floor whereas sustaining a excessive bar for high quality and making certain that whatever the method, the viewing expertise felt constant all through.

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Clips from PUNISHMENT IN AMERICA. Animation by Giovanni Grant

How a lot stress did you are feeling to do justice to such a delicate subject?

This was by far our largest concern when EJI first approached us. I’ve expertise directing movies about delicate matters, however this was a unique sort of stress. Our aim was to honor the reality of those tragic occasions with out sensationalizing them, and we knew it may solely be attainable with our consumer’s experience and perception guiding the best way. 

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Clip from PUNISHMENT IN AMERICA. Animation by Djeison Canuto.

Sometimes, our workforce will conceptualize a story internally earlier than presenting a completely realized first draft to our consumer. However for this mission, we knew we would have liked to work intimately with EJI’s workforce from the very starting. So we organized for every movie’s manufacturing schedule to start with a 2-3 hour free-form dialog concerning the story we had been about to inform. It was a chance for us to hear and study and ensure the muse of our movie can be constructed upon an knowledgeable perspective. These conferences had been then adopted by a analysis part and an prolonged storyboard growth cycle.

Design from PUNISHMENT IN AMERICA. Created by Chris Carboni.

Design from PUNISHMENT IN AMERICA. Created by Chris Carboni.

The place did you start the analysis? How do you know what to maintain and what to chop?

Fortunately, EJI offered us with tough drafts of every script early on, so we knew the place to begin. Our analysis part would then start by us pouring by way of in depth reporting on whichever period or occasion we had been specializing in. EJI’s web site options many articles exploring America’s historical past of racial injustice, from enslavement to segregation and mass incarceration. These served as the muse for additional educating ourselves on the subject material. 

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Clip from THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE Animation by Joey Gasiorek.

Past storytelling, a whole lot of analysis was additionally wanted to verify we had been being correct in our depictions of places, clothes, instruments and the rest that required period-appropriate illustration. 

By way of what to depart out and what to depart in, this was determined collectively by way of many rounds of storyboarding and open dialogue between our groups.

Clip from THE COLFAX MASSACRE Animation by Matt Choi and Tynesha Foreman.

Clip from THE COLFAX MASSACRE Animation by Matt Choi and Tynesha Foreman.

Did you might have another concepts you appreciated that you just didn’t go along with? What had been they, and why did you flip away from them?

Design and AR motion test created by Conrad McLeod.

Design and AR movement take a look at created by Conrad McLeod.


Too many to rely, given what number of storyboards and artwork instructions had been put collectively for every movie. One early thought was to incorporate an AR element to the mission the place museum attendees may scan a QR code on a plaque subsequent to a murals or artifact and entry a private expertise they may take house.

There was some preliminary curiosity in exploring this additional, however I feel it was too disruptive to an exhibit that was already totally thought out.

What’s subsequent for you and your workforce?

We’re presently engaged on a number of tasks, one among which is one other heart-rending movie centered round delicate subject material. However we’re mixing issues up with some a lot lighter themes as nicely. Our different work presently in growth is concentrated extra on creativity, design, and humor. Anticipate extra from us within the months to come back!

Illustration from THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE by Elena Chudoba.

Illustration from THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE by Elena Chudoba.



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