New Topic Simple Video: What is Culture?

Having created animated videos for organizations in England, Australia, the U.S. and Canada, we can pretty easily state that our client base is world wide in scope.

This being said, our home base is Hamilton, Ontario, and recently we were pretty excited to have our first truly ‘local’ client.  The City of Hamilton’s Culture division was looking for a ‘conversation starter’ video that could raise awareness about the importance of Culture in Hamilton.  Assigned with the not-so-small task of defining what Culture does for a city and its peoples, we began a creative journey that would see us visually reconstruct an ‘imagined’ city of Hamilton, depicting over two dozen actual buildings and cultural references in the process:


The Cultural City of Hamilton - Closeup

Cultural City of Hamilton - Close Up

What is Culture?

Excerpt from the Video:

I live in this city. It has roads, clean water, electricity, police stations, hospitals, schools – but every city has these. What makes Hamilton different?

Well, this could be where Culture comes in. Let’s see… festivals & events, a thriving arts scene, stories and customs, a sense of history, cool architecture, creative talent, public art, and even outdoor places like parks, farms and waterfalls – these are all considered to be part of Culture.

All of these things create activity and buzz – a positive energy known as cultural vibrancy. And this vibrancy helps to build community, define neighbourhoods and make the place we live in have a unique identity.


New Topic Simple Video: How to Grow Potatoes in a Bucket

It’s official: Topic Simple has a side-project.

We’re still figuring out exactly what ScratchGarden will be, but we think it will have something to do with informative & fun educational videos.  Here’s are first attempt, an entertaining musical romp that tells you exactly how to grow potatoes in a bucket (because we know you were dying to know!):

Thanks to David Newberry for supplying the music on this one!

Sign up to ScratchGarden’s email list to be notified as to what it will become… when we figure it out ourselves.  And let us know how your potato growing experiments work out!


Explaining Potatoes in a Bucket

Potatoes growing in a bucket

Buckets of Potatoes are Dancing!


At Topic Simple, we don’t like to toot our own horn… too much that is.

But we would like to make a point of featuring some of the organizations and blogs that have featured us over the past few months.  The videos that we make often pop up in various places on the web, and discovering where and how is part of the fun of making them!

We don’t pay any person or service to promote our videos because it is unnecessary: People will respond to entertaining and helpful video explanations, and their natural instinct is to share them.  Here’s a sampling of who has shared our work recently:

Need a video of your own that people can share? Contact us with your questions and needs.


New Topic Simple Video: What is Spec Work?

In the design world, Spec Work is short for ‘Speculative’ Work, and it basically means “working for free”.

Our latest video explains Spec Work, what it is, and what you can do about it.

Thanks to Jacqui Oakley and Jamie Lawson for the idea and advice on this video.

To educate yourself more on Spec Work, please check out and


Spec Work Competition

Lots of Free Designs

You just shouldn't work for free for established companies.

Speculative Work Chefs


Full transcription of the video:

In the Design World SPEC WORK is short for SPECULATIVE WORK and that means… ummmm… its kind of like when you… ahhh…. it basically means: “Working for Free”

It usually comes in two forms:


A client asks several designers – or design firms – to complete part of a new project. The client picks one winner, gives them the job, and the others go home with nothing for their hard work.


A client starts a “contest” and gather’s submission from hundred’s, if not thousands of designers. They pick one winner, pay a modest fee, and the rest go home with nothing for their hard work.

So What’s Wrong With This?

If you are a client, the best design work should come out of a healthy relationship with a designer, where your needs and wants are understood, and ideas are developed with you from the ground up. Just because you get lots of free designs, doesn’t mean any of them are good and in fact, many can be blatant rip offs. Spec Contests have actually created an underground system whereby some unscrupulous designers will quickly enter as many as possible as they copy work from the web and present it as their own. So that new logo of yours… may actually already be someone else’s…

If you are a designer, you just shouldn’t work for established companies for free, period. If you need to build your portfolio there are other ways! Design for a local charity, or your friend’s new business, or just spend the time creating your own projects.

Spec Work would seem absurd in most other professional industries…

Could you ask several chef’s to prepare your next meal for free and then only pay for the best one?
Could you hold a contest and get 100s of lawyers to write your will and then only pick and reward one?

Didn’t think so… perhaps its time we started to treat designers, youknow, just like everyone else?

Think about it.

Video by Topic Simple.

New Topic Simple Video: Management Support Network

Management Support Network (MSN) approached Topic Simple looking for a top notch video that would elevate them above the crowd.

SR&ED tax claims are confusing and time-consuming.   MSN are an experienced team of SR&ED experts that could take a claim off your hands WHILE increasing its value for a much lower price:

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Tips on Writing a Script

Scriptwriting is a crucial (infact the most crucial) step involved in creating a great explanatory animation.

Some of our clients will suggest that they write the script in order to save some dough… but it can be difficult to know where to start!

Well, here are some helpful tips on writing effective scripts for animated explainers:

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New Topic Simple Video: Love Home Swap

Love Home Swap is a  is a homeswapping exchange that uses social media to assist in finding vacation exchanges worldwide.    We always get extra excited to do an animated video for something that we want to join right away!  Who wouldn’t want to travel the world and stay in luxurious and stylish accommodation for free?

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Simplicity in Action


At Topic Simple we love simple so much that we included it in our company name.

Contrary to popular belief, simple is a lot of work! Often the most difficult part of putting together an animation happens in the early stages when we begin to break down an idea and extract its essence. There is often so much to say about a particular company, product, or idea that it can take several hours or days just to decide which elements of a story should be included and which elements should be left out.

In celebration of simplicity we’ve put together some videos that we really enjoy. They aren’t all animated, but they all effectively use – in some way or another – an approach they conveys minimalism, simplicity, and ease.

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The Reviews Are In!

At Topic Simple, we love to learn and are constantly striving for better ways to make great Animated Explainer Videos.  In the Internet age it is an ongoing challenge to update yourself to new technologies, applications, and other ways of doing things.  To help us along, one of the devices we employ here are good ol-fashioned books!

We’ve blogged previously about utilizing both Flash AND After Effects in some of our work, but here are some of the books we have around the office that have helped us integrate both of those applications into our animations:

Flash + After Effects, Second Edition: Add Broadcast Features to Your Flash Designs

Chris Jackson

Although it doesn’t go super in-depth, this is a great book that talks transitioning both from Flash to After Effects and also from After Effects to Flash.  Not just for animation, the book includes tips on integrating live video as well.

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The Tools of Animation

At Topic Simple we love great animated videos. For those who are curious to learn, or who don’t want to pay us to make one for them, we’re happy to provide resources to help you on your way.

This week, we want to talk about some of the basic ‘tools’ one would definitely and also probably need to start creating digital animations.  Without further ado:

The Tools (Hardware & Software) You Need to Create Animations:

picture of a brain


Not joking here.  If you know that you are one that thinks and solves problems visually, you’re good to go.  It’s pretty important to be able to think this way, or your animations will have nothing to start from.  You at least need the desire to want to start thinking visually.


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