Animate To Communicate

Screenshot 2016-08-09 14.55.51.pngAs part of our finale for the Parables series, we wanted to visually present the parable of the sower on stage as a lead-in to the message.  Our team decided to do this by placing four projection panels on the stage (actually just normal ½ coroplast) and the story of each different type of soil would unfold visually on each panel.  The initial concept was that we would either actually film each soil with props, or use pre-existing stock footage with a scripted voice over.  This original idea immediately began to morph as we went into execution mode.

A lack of cohesive footage led us to immediately decide to animate the four panels ourselves. The series branding was iconic and the animation style would allow us to further strengthen that branding.  Also, one of the early concerns was that with pre-existing footage, each panel might look too distinct to feel that they were a cohesive story. By using animation, it gave us full control over the look, unifying all the components of our story. It was a good call.

A script was drafted and a rough scratch of the voiceover was recorded.  One of the first steps toward animating was in finding our canvas.  Our projection boards were placed on stage and held up with basic easels. Next, we needed to know where the projected image would fall, so the boards were mapped and we used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop in full-screen mode for this.  Once the board dimensions were locked in and how our projector would fall on them, it was time to get to work on the animation.


Reference images were chosen and vector objects were drawn in Adobe Illustrator to represent the seeds, plants, soils, and weeds. The actual animating was done in Apple Motion, mostly using keyframes, fades and effects.  Masking and editing was done in Final Cut Pro X.

Stage version:

It was a great success, and the process created a model that we will be able to use on stage again soon in another context. Media that is used in a non-standard way, along with a well-told story, can leave an impression that sticks with you.


If you are interested in using this animation at your church, we plan on producing a Full 1080p version that we will distribute on various resource pages. We will have a link to that page at a later date.


We also need to create a version for those watching online. This is the version shown to online viewers:



  • (4) 4ft x 8ft Foam core boards
  • Projector
  • Animation & Editing Software



  • Using media in a new/different way can be an effective communication tool
  • Creating an animation can give you greater control over content
  • Animations don’t have to be perfect if the audio helps interpret what’s on screen and fill in the blanks of the story




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