CNAS Explainer Series

Center for a New American Security

For many of us, the headlines in the newspaper may feel more and more daunting. Political assassinations, military conflicts, national security breaches – it’s a lot! For the scholars at The Center for a New American Security, understanding these issues is their passion. They produce valuable research and insights on national security policies and we helped them convey that research through an ongoing explainer video series.

Before we were able to start producing videos for CNAS, we first had to figure out how CNAS should “do” video, what their audience wants from videos, and how we could set them up to replicate our work if and/or when we stopped working with them.

For CNAS, we wanted to give them a “way we do explainers” guide so that their fans can instantly identify one of their videos in a Twitter feed and build an evolving visual language to accompany their world-class scholarship. That way each explainer, each installment in the series, actively builds the audience for the next explainer and make it easier for audiences to seek out more content like it in the future.

Most organizations have a video consistency problem. Each video project is contracted separately, often with different vendors, and brand style guides often don’t have a video section. For animation or motion graphics projects, the problem is even more pronounced because there are so many decisions that get made. Across multiple videos, you might have clashing motion styles or vastly different character designs. You might even have multiple animation treatments of the same logo!

Before starting production, we had to build from inspiration. In the moodboard below, we played around with incorporating a combination of collage, geometric shapes, and large blocks of color and texture. This informed the art direction that we eventually would choose. We also sampled inspiration for using a variety of textures as fills throughout to create interest.


Creative Development

Duke & Duck

Creative Director

Alex Herder


Tarisa Shelton

Art Director

Katie Trayte


Dave Ellington
Hannah Churn

Sound Design

Chris Mastellone