Fire & Ice

Fall 2019

Motion Design

Fire and Ice is a short animation inspired by Robert Frost’s Poem Fire and Ice. I wanted to tell the story of how the world could end as climate change continues to affect our planet. This was inspired by a goal that the UN Sustainable Development put forward.

"Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning"—UN Sustainable Development Goal 13.3

Bach Chaconne, Partita No. 2 played by Hilary Hahn

Thomas Merriman


I started by visiting the 13th Sustainable Development Goal on the UN SDG website. They mentioned that a lot of individual action can be taken to fight against climate change so I wanted to address the issue with an optimistic point of view. However, after reading research papers that covered the incredibly large system of causes for CO2 emissions and pollution, that sort of approach began to feel childish to the point of irony.

I decided to frame my approach to climate action in a more pessimistic way with the goal of having viewers simply reflect on their lives, impact, and the future of our planet.


I loved the passive acceptance of the end of the world in Robert Frost’s poem Fire and Ice.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,I
think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

The inspiration behind the poem itself was a conversation between Frost and an astronomer. Frost had asked them how the world might end. In their discussion, Frost learned that the world could end in nuclear annihilation and/or global warming; both of which could lead to an ice age.

I began to storyboard how I wanted to visualize Frost’s words.

Work Day Model used to illustrate the class structure throughout one year


With my storyboard done, I went directly to After Effects to experiment with how I wanted the visuals to look and move. I used a mix of frame-by frame animation and vector animation.

gif of a previous animated iterationgif of a previous animated iterationgif of a previous animated iteration


I think what I struggled with most was my call-to-action. After visualizing Robert Frost’s poem, I wanted to bring in my voice as a final message to the viewer. Most of what I came up with felt childish or less impactful. In the end, I decided to send a message of the reality of climate change before ending the video with “How will the world end?”, the very question Frost asked himself before he wrote his poem.

This was my first animation that involved graphics and it gave me a lot of appreciation for the time and effort needed to build up a strong concept to shape a visual message. I also learned a lot about working between Illustrator, After Effects, and Procreate all at the same time and am very pleased with the result of my efforts.