Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: How the Iran Nuclear Deal Works (an explainer)

Blake Harris 07.23.2015

With so much great work being done in the animation and explanation spaces, we thought it would be valuable if, each week, we shined the spotlight on an impressive piece of work. This week’s selection comes courtesy of VOX and provides a detailed and digestible breakdown of the recent nuclear deal with Iran.

Header- Iran Nuclear Deal


Degree of Difficulty: This is by no means a light topic. Nor is it one that particularly seems to lend itself to animation. But, at the same time, it’s important agreement and one that—deep down—many people probably don’t understand. Which makes an explainer about this particularly valuable. And even more valuable, of course, is that the video manages to successfully pull it off. So…how do they do it?

One way they were able to do so was by using photos of familiar faces (a few examples below) to slowly transition viewers from the real world into an animated realm.

 Degree 1

Degree 2

Degree 3 ‘

And another way was by leveraging the visual power and recognition of maps. Although not everyone may know where Iran is located in the world, the aesthetic of a map (like the example below) itself still helps to ground this story in familiar terms.


Sincerity: Given the polarity of this topic, it wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine a scenario where this video reeked of propaganda. But at no point during the video did it feel like the viewer was being pushed or pulled in a specific direction. Instead, it felt more like a deployment of relevant facts for the viewer to consume in their own way. Not only did this just-the-facts approach instill a sincere of sincerity, but the narrator himself was pleasantly frank about the density, at times, of this information. To the point where he even admits that “this gets technical really fast” when venturing into the minutiae of this deal. Oftentimes, as a rule, it’s better to show than tell. But in this case, doing both creates a sense of sincerity that helps the explainer overall.

Additional Media: The goal of any explainer isn’t just to simply explain something; it’s to also engage the audience and provoke them into further action. In this case—being a video that isn’t asking anything of the audience—the video is able to supplement the viewer’s interest by providing additional materials for engagement. The first, and most important, of which is an easy-to-read interview. The second is this Infographic, which is peppered right there in the middle of the interview.


And lastly, at the very bottom is graphic that helps place this piece within a larger and on-going arc. It’s a nice way to “end” a development that doesn’t truly have an end.

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