It's always fun writing description for the Scholastic and Weston Woods, who make children's books come to life with animation. One recent one was based on a really cute book with Amy Krouse Rosenthal, about four best friends that are shapes. It may seem simple, but I had to keep up with some interesting choreography later on. :-)
Nate Heck is like the Bill Nye the Science Guy of art. In his Artrageous With Nate series with PBS Digital Studios, he's on a mission to help kids embrace their creativity and have fun playing with all sorts of techniques and media to make art - learning more about its history and the science that goes into it along the way. It was challenging fun writing description for Nate's adventures, though he would often help in describing the visual art itself to make it more relatable and not like a distant relic in a museum. In this clip, Nate visits a street artist who expresses himself with spray cans.
It was a privilege to write description for a deceptively simple but important film. Various children talk about their lives having parents who are divorced. Their thoughts, feelings and stories (sometimes illustrated by animated kids' drawings) about their different family situations can be heartbreaking, funny and often very relatable for a lot of children of divorce. In this clip, they talk about their families and how their lives have changed.
I appreciated being able to write description for something that will help students outside the classroom. Default: The Student Loan Documentary explains how the financial aid system in the United States can set up students for money worries long after graduation. In this clip, two of the many former students featured look back on their high hopes and an author discusses the origins of the student loan system.
You could say I took a tour of my home state of Ohio in this series, made by various local PBS stations. These many short videos open young people's minds to a world of careers with practical information about the skills and interests involved, including what to take in school to start the path to that career. There's a ridiculous variety to the jobs covered, from welding to marketing to accounting to hairstyling, to this one in a field near and dear to my heart: radio.
We hear about school shootings and bullying often on the news, but are there ways to stem the tide of anger? A short film from Mazzarella Media I wrote description for tries to help teenagers figure out how to spot warning signs and what to do about them. The situations are familiar to kids, including the social media they use. In this clip, a couple girls are tipped off to threats made against a teacher.
I took a wild trip back to the Noughties to work on part of the MTV series "The Teen Files". In "Flipped", young people learn some hard lessons when they get thrown into situations totally opposite from their usual situations: boyfriends and girlfriends switch places, kids who dabble in drugs deal with overdoses, racists find themselves with people of colour, and all of it happens with MTV-style quick cuts and the music of the time. But though the music is dated, the issues are not. In this clip, we meet two young people who see no problem with bullying "weaker" kids... and will soon find themselves bullied.
I've had a bit of deja vu working on some recent videos. About a decade ago, I worked on a couple hundred films for perennial Oscar-winners The National Film Board of Canada (you'll have to ask them why only a small number of them can be found on their site). The DCMP has gotten hold of a few more recent films, with a wide variety of subjects and animation styles the NFB is known for. Here's a clip from "55 Socks," using simple paper cut-outs (a style described before the clip starts) to bring to life a poem based on the real experiences of people living through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.
Richard Alley has a varied resume which includes an oil company, a university and the UN panel on climate change. So he brought many perspectives to the PBS miniseries Earth: The Operators Manual, and also brought together even more varied perspectives from people all over the U.S. to talk about the environment and its relation to consumable and sustainable energy. The results are more optimistic than I expected when I started describing it. This clip below sets up the episode titled "Energy Quest USA", about people from different geographic and political backgrounds to put ideas about sustainability into action.
It was a privilege to work on some episodes of the Australian kids' series MY:24, which features video diaries of young people talking about the 24 hours that changed their lives. They tackle issues like self-acceptance, foster care, depression and cultural stigma, but are upbeat and inspiring as they build the skills to overcome the hurdles in their way. The clip below features Coen, who's lived with debilitating Cystic Fibrosis most of his life and gets set for a lung transplant.