RSA Animate

RSA Animate

Updated Nov 21, 2013 at 07:53PM EST by Brad.

Added Jan 04, 2013 at 07:34PM EST by Don.

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RSA Animate is a series of videos featuring animations drawn from lectures on a variety of topics, including education, economics, science and history. The videos are illustrated by Cognitive Media founder and director Andrew Park.

Online History

The RSA Animate web series was created by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), a British institution that has hosted public debate events since its founding in 1754. According to the Cognitive Media blog,[4] illustrator Andrew Park was hired by the RSA Events team in 2010 to create an animated drawing to go along with Norwegian sociologist Stein Ringen’s speech “The economic consequences of Mr. Brown,” which Park filmed himself drawing quickly on paper using a Flip camera (shown below, left). The style was inspired by an animation for the New York Public Library by illustrator Flash Rosenberg, which features a conversation about economics with Felix Rohatyn, Noriel Roubini and Jeffery Sachs (shown below, right).

On YouTube

On March 10th, 2010, the first RSA Animate video was uploaded to YouTube, which featured an animation of RSACEO Matthew Taylor’s lecture on the growing influence of brain research in political debates and civic discourses (shown below). The video gained more than 250,000 views and 160 comments over the next three years.

On April 1st, 2010, an RSA Animate was uploaded featuring a talk by Dan Pink, author of the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us[3], illustrating theories about what type of rewards motivate people to be productive (shown below). Within the next three years, the video accumulated over 9.7 million views and 7,000 comments. On June 28th, RSA Animate uploaded a video titled “Crises of Capitalism,” which illustrated a lecture by academic David Harvey about possible future alternatives to a capitalist economy (shown below, right). Within the next three years, the video received more than two million views and 9,300 comments. As of January 2013, RSA has published 18 episodes of the web series on its YouTube channel.

Other Notable Videos

Gates Foundation

On January 28th, 2011, the Gates Foundation charity uploaded a YouTube video titled “Vaccines Save Lives,” which featured an animated presentation by Park about the importance of vaccinations. Within one year, the video received more than 79,000 views and 400 comments.


The RSA Animate series has been praised by journalists for its animation style and choice of subject matter. On October 21st, 2011, The Guardian[2] reported on the positive reception of the web series across the world, including large numbers of viewers from Russia, China and Kazakhstan on Vimeo. On October 25th, The Telegraph[7] published an article titled “RSAAnimated Lectures: How to Open Your Mind,” noting that the US Department of Defense and Macy’s department store had used the RSA Animate videos in training programs. On December 21st, PBS blog POV[6] lauded the series for doing “some of what the best documentaries do." On October 4th, 2011, the “RSA Animate” Facebook[5] page was created, which received more than 3,100 likes within the next 15 months. As of January 2013, the RSA YouTube channel has published 18 episodes and accumulated over 38.5 million views and 219,000 subscribers, making it the top nonprofit channel according to RSA CEO Matthew Taylor.[2]


Several animated videos inspired by the RSA Animate series have been created, which typically speed up footage of someone drawing on a canvas or whiteboard. On December 26th, 2012, Edublogs published a post with instructions on how to make an RSA Animate-style video, including an example created in a classroom about the Louisiana purchase (shown below, top, left).

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