There’s a little magic in every StoryCorps animation, when a person’s memories vividly transform into something we get to see and feel.

Behind that magic is a group of animators carefully at work. Not only are they trying to be faithful to the storyteller’s story, but they’re trying to capture their point of view so that the illustrations feel as personal as the stories themselves.

Here’s what we think makes our animations so special:

New dimension of storytelling

New dimension of storytelling: Some stories just lend themselves to pictures. Our animation team selects recordings that feature visual elements that can help the audience experience the stories in a new way. For instance, when we animated the story of Mary Stepp Burnette Hayden, we used the visual structure of a quilt to honor the rich tradition of using quilts to tell stories and share messages; to honor the folk art of North Carolina, where the story takes place; and to celebrate Mary’s great-granddaughter Debora Hamilton Palmer’s craft.

Beyond audio

Beyond audio: Our animators and producers talk with the storytellers over the course of production to make sure that we capture the nuances of their story, their mannerisms and voices, and above all, the details of how they felt in those moments.

Unique visual style

Unique visual style: Nailing down the visual style of each animation is one of the trickiest parts. It has to match the tone and essence of the story being told. And it has to have its own distinct visual approach, as personal and unique as the stories they depict. When we illustrated the story of Gilbert Zermeño joining the school band, we mapped his memories out over a musical score that brought the audio and animation into harmony.

A creative journey

A creative journey: The process of bringing a rough storyboard to a fully animated series is a labor of love, involving several stages of feedback and revisions. The creators build each animation piece by piece—sketching characters with features that resemble those of our storytellers; developing backgrounds that reflect the time period, setting, and mood of a story; and constructing a storyboard that guides the viewer through each beat in surprising and delightful ways.

A larger audience

A larger audience: Animations make these deeply human stories more accessible, bringing them to a broader audience on local public television, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and more. 93% of survey respondents who viewed StoryCorps animations said that it made them feel positive about humanity.

Nearly 15 years ago, our team immediately recognized the power of animated stories to inspire and connect us to one another. Since then we have produced over 100 animations and release more each year. We invite you to watch them all (again, or for the first time).