CLIENT: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Historical timeline video
Concept & approach
Voice casting and direction
Historical archive footage, stills and period advertising curation
PROJECT: THE MAN WHO MADE DICTIONARIES
When you hear the phrase “Origin Story” it brings to mind Hollywood superhero films playing out the dramatic beginnings of an amazing character. What it isn’t is a phrase you’d often associate with a dictionary.
This was the challenge faced to promote the release of the 10th edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Behind the glossy cover it was surprising to learn that this particular origin story took place on a global stage, tracing a timeline through history from the First World War through the Second World War and beyond with action worthy of a page turning novel.
The brief was to deliver a piece of factually accurate content that told a story that spanned nearly a century in an easily digestible and engaging manner. The route chosen was to take the viewer on a journey through time, traversing their way around a classroom that would evolve in appearance over time. The classroom was a nod to the author A.S. Hornby who went from a career in the Royal Navy to becoming a teacher of English in Japan.
A highly detailed computer-generated environment of a nineteen twenties period classroom was created in 360 degrees which would act as the start point and setting for the majority of the narrative. The viewer would be taken on a journey around the classroom with the camera moving from place to place and settling momentarily on an area of interest where a chapter of the dictionary’s tale would unfold.
To add to the authenticity of the piece, archive newsreel footage and newspapers where integrated into the scenes to bring dynamic movement to the story as well as using authentic time period accurate props and archived items such as personal photographs and handwritten notes by the author himself.
This journey would continue in a circular motion to a point in the narrative where the timeline moved into the post war era at which point the classroom of the 1920's evolves to that of a modern setting incorporate a modern build and décor as well as props that included technology such as mobiles, tablets and digital projectors.
Each chapter of the story was carefully created to be compartmentalised by a camera movement in and out of the scene to allow for easy consumption on digital channels so that a viewer might skip immediately to an area of interest in the timeline.
Accompanied by a calm and measured voice over, the narrative of The Man Who Made Dictionaries was carefully crafted to honour the story of the man who created a dictionary that has helped millions with the learning of English but also that of a man whose lasting legacy continues in the form of the Hornby Trust, set up with the royalties form the dictionary sales to continue helping scholars to learn and then teach English all around the globe.