Thomas Alberti




Design, Animation, Production: Thomas Alberti
Mentor: Sekani Solomon
Music: Sono Sanctus
Voice: Michael Yates

Project info

Mograph Mentor is an online mentorship program. Students are matched with industry professionals who have years of hands-on experience working with the world's biggest brands. For the final project, Mograph Mentor partners with Animation for a Cause to provide the creative brief for a real-world non-profit organization. I chose to produce a video for NYC based City Harvest.

Process notes

I love City Harvest's straightforward solution to an obvious problem: Save good food from being wasted and give it to the hungry. I wanted the design to reflect such an effective, no-fuss approach. Clean lines, smooth motion, and a limited palette drove the overall aesthetic. At the same time, through City Harvest's social media outlets, its volunteers radiate joy and life. I wanted to express this energy through the use of bold colors and a lively music bed. Finally, I centered the narrative around the distinctive delivery truck, a visual representation of the heroes who rescue food for New York's hungry.


I edited this 200+ word script down to an essential 100 words in a narrative structure.


Abundance and life were themes that stood out as I began to research. Harvest time, Thanksgiving, plenty. I wanted to convey the vitality and joy that comes with a meal, especially in contrast to trash heaps and landfills. The style was beginning to reflect the simplicity of City Harvest's solution.


I sketched some ideas of hunger and food waste, including emaciation, trash, and landfills. My first sketches were coming out too dire, almost harrowing. As I continued exploring, I remembered my own feelings of throwing away good food. It felt like a very personal connection to how City Harvest reverses that experience, saving it instead, and one the audience could immediately relate to.


I kept seeing City Harvest as this hero in the story but wasn't sure how that character would look. I explored some traditional caped-crusaders, but the iconic truck ultimately took this role. The truck is directly involved in the saving and delivery of the food, is extremely recognizable with its simple, effective branding, and is more likely to have been seen by the audience throughout NYC.


To illustrate what actually happens to the food when it's wasted versus saved, I thought I could show New York City on a macro and micro level. Manhattan is this hub of activity, with packets of stuff constantly being transported in and out, so I sketched a broad view to show how the food gets to a landfill, and zoomed in to show the specific act of the food being saved.

For the food, I thought about displaying restaurants, but ended up focusing on the food itself in the form of geotags. They helped to convey the idea of packets being moved around the City. The sketch on the right was one of my first rendered style frames.



Again, I wanted to keep the style simple. I let my sketches guide me in that regard, since I felt they had effectively illustrated the ideas without any embellishment. I even ended up keeping much of the video black and white, using color to emphasize the food and the logo.



Mograph Mentor emphasizes process. Starting with a foundation of the concept and story, moving on to sketches, storyboard, and design. Then animation. This helped because I always knew what I was animating and where I was in the process. I could always return to my research, boards, and word lists for direction when figuring out how to make something move.

I had kept transitions in the back of my mind as I sketched. The food dropping out of Manhattan into a trash heap made it all the way from notebook to final production. For most transitions though, I would experiment and noodle on them throughout the day.

Using lots of shape layers gets unwieldy in After Effects. My go-to combo for wrangling layers is Focus plus Prism. Keeping my project folder structure extremely organized also helped.

To get nuanced, fluid motion, I was usually fine-tuning animation curves. I also enjoy expressions. One instance where they helped was adding drag to the outer circles that exploded and rotated onto Manhattan. With some coding and math background, I'm always looking for smart ways of approaching technical problems.


The creative process always amazes me. Experiencing an idea going from something no one can see inside your head to something everyone can see out in the world keeps my sense of wonder alive.

Sekani and my classmates were a huge support. Sekani's insights challenged and pushed my work every week. I am grateful for his mentorship.

Thanks for reading!