Behind the Scenes of Ray Dalio’s Hit Animation Examining the Changing World Order


We are currently experiencing the kind of world events that many of us never experienced in our lifetimes and perhaps thought were confined to the history books. As war rages in Europe, inflation hits its highest level in 40 years, and the gap between haves and have-nots widens immeasurably, we are all trying to make sense of it all and determine where is the world going.

Perhaps that’s why a 44-minute film recounting the past 500 years of history has been an unexpected hit on YouTube, with over 20 million views so far.

Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail is a visual adaptation of the bestselling book of the same title by billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio. The lecture puts recent events into context and explains how they repeat a pattern that reverberates through history. And everything is highlighted by the design and animation agency Thornberg & Forester.

We spoke with Scott Matz, President and Chief Creative Officer, and Executive Director Tony Kadillak to find out how they approached the project, the challenges they faced, and how they balanced precision and authenticity while commanding attention. of the audience and entertaining them throughout.

Read on to hear their insights, and if you haven’t seen the video yet, you can watch it below. We highly recommend it.

How was this epic project born? It was all done remotely, right?

Scott: Our first experience of working with Dalio dates back to 2013. We were hired to bring to life a white paper he had written on economics. It’s also on YouTube and is called How The Economic Machine Works.

Fast forward to 2018, Dalio returned to us at Thornberg & Forester to conceive and produce another 30-minute film, Principles For Success, which supported his book of the same title. Each film took a year to create and would not have been possible without the commitment, talent and dynamism of our creation and production teams. We also worked closely with Jonathan Jarvis of Universal Patterns to frame and design the first film and with creative agency IDEO for the second.

We have partnered with Jonathan, once again, to develop principles for dealing with the changing world order: why nations succeed and fail. Initially, the biggest concern for us was the logistics of the project; how are we going to work remotely, closely with our team of designers, illustrators and animators of nearly 30 people on a 30-minute animated film for about 12 months? Thanks to our lead producer, John Holt, and production manager Javier Gonzalez, we’ve crafted an incredibly robust multi-month Gantt chart and production schedule filled with creative responsibilities, work-in-progress milestones, and management actives.






Given the weight of the film’s theme and its timeliness, did you feel any pressure to get it right?

Scott: By nature, we always feel the pressure to do things right for our partner clients. This film was no exception; its opportunity, and especially being our third partnership with Ray. Our main goal is to make each film better than the last.

Tony: The pressure brought her story to life in a way that felt authentic to her. And it was something that he envisioned for himself as being, you know, visually representative of what those multiple years of research and writing have come up with. For us, a big reward is in the comments on YouTube. But ultimately we were happy when Ray saw the final product. His reaction was: “It’s a masterpiece. It is more or less a work of art”. It was validation of the months and resources invested in bringing this piece to life.

Scott: Yeah, that still gave me chills. And it was such a good thing to hear that.

It’s very flattering. Especially since Ray Dalio is so good at explaining complex theories and history. Was it that easy to animate? I mean, what was the starting point?

Scott: Visualizing Ray’s complex written theories was challenge number one. Our design team and Jonathan worked hard to create a clean visual language and a host of inspired graphic metaphors for the film. Our artists built an artillery of brand assets for our animation teams, whose tasks were equally challenging.

Unlike the previous two films, this one required the integration of photography and a dash of nostalgic video to deliver historical principles. Character design development also evolved – building on previous designs. We also came up with a new approach to animation, moving from macro to micro, zooming in on certain scenes to provide more detail, and zooming out to present certain scenes in a more simple and unobtrusive way. This technique has opened up many opportunities for us to play and have fun.

Our storyboard for the film consisted of almost 1,000 illustrated images, including all the complex ideas, infographics, charts, graphs, photo integration, camera movements and transitions.

Stories like these can get very serious, very quickly. It was important to inject a sense of human connection and emotion into the film.

It’s incredible. For what could be considered quite a depressing topic, you manage to make it lighthearted. Was it deliberate?

Scott: : Absolutely. First of all, themed animated feature films can get boring and boring very quickly. Also, stories like these can get very serious, very quickly. That said, it made sense to keep the gravity of Ray’s learnings and storytelling front and center and inject some fun bits of humor into the background that viewers might not see the first time around but might catch the second. time. After all, it is also entertainment.







Was it your agency’s idea to add a little humor or Ray’s? You have found the balance so well.

Tony: I think everyone involved in the process recognized that a bit of levity was needed to help balance the storytelling.

Scott: Thanks! It was a joint effort. We wanted to find a good balance between educating and finding the right dose of lightness and charm.

It’s a phenomenal success. How is this reflected in your agency and your team?

Scott: The work we have done with Ray over the years continues to create new business opportunities on a global scale. Many requests have led us to make brand films in the financial sector for several different clients.

Tony: Ray’s stories are more persistent than most of the work we traditionally engage in. Certainly in the entertainment market. So I think that’s the other rewarding aspect of projects like these – it’s work that lasts.







After going through this whole process, learning about the changing world orders, how do you feel about things right now? Do you have hope for the future?

Tony: You have to try to see the silver linings. And find the good in people and humanity. If you don’t, your outlook on life isn’t very good. For me, at least, it’s a personal choice: try to see the good and hold on to things that help you hold on to some hope.

But it is not unrealistic to hope. Not Pollyanna’s thought. We still have things under our control and there are many things we can act on. I think Ray Dalio’s new book gives that kind of message of hope at the end; it is not too late. These are all choices we can make to achieve a better outcome for everyone.

When it comes to our business, we feel lucky to get up and do what we do, to tell these amazing stories and build a business around them. If Ray decides he has another story to tell, we feel lucky to be on this shortlist. It is an honor to bring these stories to life.




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