tothisday tothisday

“To This Day”, A Collaborative Animated Short about Bullying

The most talked-about online animation debut this week was To This Day, which featured the contributions of over 80 animation artists who took turns animating a spoken word poem written and performed by Shane Koyczan. The seven-and-a-half minute short has already racked up nearly 3.5 million views on Youtube, and an additional 134,000 views on Vimeo.

The anti-bullying message of the film is powerful, but the impact originates almost entirely from Koyczan’s passionate narration. The animation—and the overproduced score—serve as attractive garnish, but don’t enhance or elucidate the core emotion of the vocal performance. That’s not to say that the visuals aren’t well made because it’s clear that a lot of effort went into this. Seemingly every current animation and motion graphic style is represented, but the novelty of rapidly shifting visual styles doesn’t feel like the most effective way to support Koyczan’s narration.

The interchangeable feel of the visuals has a lot to do with the way the project was set up by Vancouver-based design studio Giant Ant. They invited dozens of artists to create 20-second pieces over a twenty-day period, and assigned multiple artists to animate the same parts of the film. Afterward, they cut together the bits and pieces that they thought worked best for each scene. As one artist who worked on the project told me:

This is an excellent example of crowdsourcing in the 21st century. Everybody works hard on tiny chunks for no pay, only the best parts of their tiny chunks go in, the rest gets scrapped, and you’ve got a beautiful result for no investment.

  • I gotta say I kinda dig the fact that this film was a combination of a lot of different animation styles. It reiterates that everyone’s different but everyone’s got an important contribution they can make to make something whole. That’s my take on it. I do agree, tho, that it is definitely the narration that gives it the impact.

    Congratulations to that team! 3.5 million views and counting … that’s pretty awesome!

  • Jonathan Quimbly

    What a great piece. I was bullied as a kid, and relate to this in a big way.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • KA

    I actually don’t think this is a successful piece. I really appreciate the project, but this is clearly a proof of “less is more.” The music and constant style-shifting distracted me from the poem…which is where the message lies.

    but I’m really happy it’s getting a lot of attention, because several of my non-animation friends have sent it to me in excitement, telling me they never knew how powerful animation could be.

    damn straight.

  • Barbara

    So, the animators were bullied by the production company?

  • Lori

    I agree that the visuals don’t quite mesh with the audio, which is a shame because the animation is so strong in its varied styles and scopes. As a whole- that works well to one of the strengths of animation- it’s universality because it doesn’t have to depict one race, gender, nationality, etc.

    For me the narration was just too aggressive and it kept pulling me out of the piece as a whole. When it would quiet down, I’d go with it and follow the visuals but when it amped up- it was almost akin to being yelled at- interestingly enough- almost as if the viewer is being bullied into watching the whole thing.

  • Guest

    Well at least this is better than “the Bully Effect” on Cartoon Network which just shows that Stuart Snyder is a hypocrite and bullies the viewers with Live Action shows like Level Up and Incredibly Stupid Crew

  • Grayson

    That was so perfect thank you so much for bringing this to everyone’s attention