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Creator and Artist Stories

Meet the Rauch Brothers, StoryCorps animators

By Mia Quagliarello

Community Manager

Today on our homepage, we’re featuring a new batch of StoryCorps videos animated by the Rauch Brothers. If you want to be moved by the human experience, watch them now.

StoryCorps is a massive oral history project during which 50,000 everyday people have already interviewed friends and family. A handful of these are transformed by the Rauch Brothers, who look to animate universal stories that capture the joys, struggles and extraordinary lives of regular people. Here, in our ongoing series of Creator’s Corner posts, the animators take you along their creative journey and name the YouTube users who in turn inspire them.

1) What is your process? 

We receive an edited voice track from StoryCorps' Peabody Award-winning production team, which we then research. Time, place and personality of the main characters are all important. After digesting what we've learned, we determine which details to leave in, and which to take out in order to tell the story in a clear, engaging, and honest way.

After the initial research, we create character designs, a storyboard, and rough background layouts. When those stages are complete, we move on to animation and final background layouts. The last step is to paint everything and pull it all together in the computer.

2) Sounds like “Danny & Annie” was the first time you met your subjects in person. Was that unusual?

Whenever possible, it's very important to us to meet the storytellers in our animation. It gives us a chance to get input from them, and helps add authenticity to the final piece. "Danny & Annie" wasn't the first time we met one of our storytellers — we met the Littmans while working on "Q&A." Seeing them interact was important for Tim (who draws all the animated characters), because it helped him capture some of their mannerisms in animation.

"Danny & Annie" was the first time we had the opportunity to actually visit the home of one of our subjects. It was particularly important to get good reference photos of their Brooklyn apartment because the majority of the story takes place there. We also referenced some of their wedding photos in the final animation. Through that process, we were able to add authenticity that reflects the documentary nature of the original recording.

3) How close do you try to get to the person's true likeness?

We use photos for reference as we work on character designs, but we find that people are more than just the face one sees on the surface. They have a personality and a spirit that isn't necessarily captured in a photograph. Luckily, StoryCorps' terrific recordings of these voices and stories help tell us a lot about what we can't see in a photo. As StoryCorps founder Dave Isay says, the voice is like a window to the soul. Focusing on that aspect of the people in these stories has been the most effective way for us to capture something that feels honest and real.

4) What do you hope your work conveys?

We would like this work to serve as a reminder and a celebration of our shared humanity.

5) Who on YouTube is making great animation?

- Pes uses everyday objects in unique and unexpected ways to tell short, funny stories that leave you wanting more.
- Animated graffiti takes over the world!
Fran Krause
- The quirky characters and stories that Fran develops with his brother, Will, are always fun.
Nina Paley
- Nina tells entertaining stories and makes them freely available to watch, download, and remix. She is an animator perfectly suited for the age of YouTube.
Bill Plympton
- The King of Indie Animation still reigns supreme.