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Watch As Dancers Leave Sculptures In Their Wakes

For the debut of Chinese documentary channel CCTV9, JL Design put a new way of telling human stories in motion.

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Media organizations are forever trying to tell human stories–which is why magazine covers feature celebrities appearing to make eye contact, and people, not pills, laugh and twirl around in the meadows of pharmaceutical commercials. It’s hard to tap fresh approaches to the human narrative because there are, after all, 7 billion of us. We get used to each other.

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Keeping it–us–in motion is one way to go, as the new Chinese CCTV9 documentary channel chose to promote its launch, hoping to find untold stories in a range of human movement:

“As a young channel, they hope to make a big impression on the audience but more importantly, they want to connect with them,” says Angela Moo, executive producer at JL Design, the Taiwan-based firm who created the spots. “So the human factor was crucial.”

To convey stories that were “personal, intimate, and relevant,” explains Moo, the firm picked four different kinds of human relationships and actions: a martial arts expert in solo combat, a father-daughter duo, a romantic couple, and two dancers. They trained six motion-sensing cameras on the actors to capture their movements, and then animated the data collected.

Each animated output has a unique texture, designed to maximize the emotional expression of every gesture: “The result was steel of strength for the martial arts expert, candy-colored wire for the happiness of father and daughter, living wood for the dancers, and fragile yet beautiful glass for the lovers,” Moo tells Co. Design.

The results play with the imagination, and not just because we don’t normally see yarn or metal spinning in air. It’s like watching clouds go by, where each can morph into surprising shapes–like a charging rhinoceros for the martial arts expert, or a cocoon-like yarn hammock for the young girl. It’s a fitting intro for a documentary channel that’s ultimately about the movement of people and society and culture, seen in new ways.

About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.

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