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Stack Overflow, a 10 million member strong question and answer site for programmers, has been commissioning a series of animated films introducing products and features. For this ongoing partnership, I blend my own established illustrative character style with their palette, look and feel — and it's a great match! Watch several videos below, followed by a selection of stills and some fun background information. And, separately, make sure to also check out this collection of social media loops!

While most of these videos are about providing an overview of Stack Overflow products for a general audience, the final one above came out of a slightly different brief — it goes a little more into detail about how a product works, and is intended to resonate with decision makers who might not understand the everyday challenges of their technical staff. I was encouraged to reuse some shots from the previous videos, which ended up working out well. It's been really fun to create a real coherent body of work in collaboration with one company. They've given me a lot of creative freedom to define the look and feel and direct interesting scenes. 

And, the videos are resonating. When AT&T implemented Stack Overflow for Teams, they wanted their own version of one of the videos to help introduce the software to thousands of IT staff and field workers — so I adapted my animation for their needs as well.

Illustation of an office by Bard Edlund
Cublicles in an office space
Stack Overflow questions and answers
A woman in front of her laptop computer at work

In the final two stills above, I was able to make use of some material photo textures captured at the recently added Spur section of the High Line, NYC's elevated park. Sometimes even in my commercial work I'm able to weave in visual influences and materials, or just little details from my observations of the world around me, and find that it always imbues my pieces with additional spark.

For this entire series, Ben Popper served as the lead producer for Stack Overflow, while I handled all the visuals as well as the sound design. A fun story about that: As I was working on the first video in this series, I kept trying to imagine what sort of sound I could use each time a character has a question. One thing I kept thinking was that it should probably be a sound that glides from one note to another. I planned to construct the sound using software synthesizers or possibly on lap steel guitar, and then suddenly a weird "gliding" bird sound came from right outside my studio window! I rushed over and recorded it with my iPhone, and after some quick editing, I had the right sound! I still don't know what kind of bird creature produced this sound, because my blinds were down, and because I am a bird ignoramus. But: Thanks, bird!

Have a look at the social media loops I've been doing for Stack Overflow as well, and check out other interesting projects on the animation page.

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