secret genius of modern life


2D & Hand Drawn Animation, Graphic Design UI, 3D Animation


Open University, BBCTwo

Animation & design studio

flying duck studio lab



overview & brief

We were contacted by Open University in regards to a new research project they were going to launch with BBCTwo. The commission was to help create an interactive experience to accompany the upcoming series of The Secret Genius of Modern Life. The interactive presentation focused on the sustainability / ethical challenges presented by the current production / consumption of mobile devices in a modular set up.

The presentation would use an interactive platform called Genially, that can create a “microsite” style experience for users. On top of that, Open University wanted to show an “exploded view” of a typical phone, so they could draw attention to it, and to introduce UI elements that ties the whole experience together. They handed us a very interesting brief with a clear overview and specific requirements, but the overall style, texture, colour palette and design was left open for us to develop. We were given a deadline and references to understand the concept of the Open University.

Link to the microsite

The challenge & solution

One of the challenges was to accommodate everything within budget and timeline. We had presented different options during the briefing round, containing different amounts of elements and complexity to show what the “design packages” would cost. Open University chose one package and from there on we developed the different elements. We were in touch with Andrew in Broadcasting and from the very beginning it was an easy going and kind communication. However, Open University had several people behind the project, we needed confirmation on the progress throughout with different professors. Being able to keep developing assets and amending within the timeframe was of essence and the way to do that was gaining access to the interactive platform Genially from the beginning so we could see the structure created by Open University while adding elements along the way that was shared with their departments. In addition we also created an open source art direction deck for the client to look at and follow the progress. This way, we could continue working while assets were being reviewed and not slow down the production process.

The process & TECHNIQUE

The project was an interesting one because we had to work with elements for an interactive “microsite” that also contained facts, statistics and live action video/interviews. Our job was to design and dress up the microsite and make it engaging and visually appealing, giving the audience of any age an opportunity to enjoy going through the different pages while learning. Deciding on the colour scheme, shapes and animation was crucial to develop an attractive site, working with modularity and making sure that the modern touch and interaction didn’t overshadow the research, but complemented and supported the project. We used the Genially site as the base. Once the colours had been greenlit, we then developed organic shapes and background textures, transformed numbers and statistics into visually engaging elements. Early on we did tests on the bigger animations such as the exploding phone. Everything was added to a deck the client could see and assets delivered throughout for them to add to the microsite while we built test subpages in Genially for the client to review. 

We designed everything in Blender, Photoshop and Illustrator first and then we brought the elements to After Effects where we composed them and played with different colours and animation to have more flexibility.


Blender, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects


Open University were extremely happy with the result and workflow, as were we. It was an absolute pleasure working with them throughout. In the end, we passed all of the created elements and colours to their team and then they got to build the microsite the way they wanted to.

Our credits

Creative Director: Alixe Lobato

Producer: Josephine Amalie von Bülow

Animators: Alixe Lobato, Hannah Vernon