Portland’s Hinge Digital, which works on spots, commercial campaigns and other content for big brands, such as Microsoft, Adidas, Electronic Arts and Dunkin’ Donuts, recently took on a very different kind of project with Suitcase, a 30-second public service announcement created for AdoptUSKids, Ad Council and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
It reminds people that while they might not be perfect at all times, they can provide the perfect, loving home for a child in need. It was produced to mark the 10th anniversary of AdoptUSKids, which helps place foster children into adoptive homes in the United States.
Hinge came up with the concept, wrote, designed and animated the piece, but with so many partners’ hands in the mix across the country, the studio needed something to keep everyone on the same page as the project sprang to life. To do that they called on Frankie, a web-based video review tool that allowed remote parties to view the work and collaborate in realtime.
In Suitcase the audience sees a young girl who has been bounced between foster homes, growing accustomed to living out of a suitcase. When she’s given a permanent home she finds a new use for that suitcase, and appreciates her adoptive parents even if they make silly mistakes here or there.
“It was important to use emotional storytelling and illustrative design to tell this story, along with the software magic of Maya and Nuke to create the visual narrative,” says director Alex Tysowsky, whose nearly 20-year career includes animation for films such as The Matrix and Spider-Man 2. He had a team of eight focused on the PSA, which was in production for about six weeks.
“We wanted to create a spot with a uniquely engaging look that combined toon-shaded CG characters and watercolor backgrounds,” he explains. “Once the concept designs were approved, we built the 3D assets to match the look and feel of the artwork. The fun part was animating and bringing the characters to life. ”With approvals needed from both creative and non-creative individuals at the client companies — all in various locations across the United States —Hinge Digital needed a solution that would allow for an effective review process. That’s where Frankie came in.
Tysowsky says that with Frankie, “remote parties can be easily invited into the review session, and everyone can quickly share their comments and notes. It makes everyone feel like part of the active process. Once we had everyone on a conference line and connected to Frankie, they were all looking at the same thing. With five people in five different locations, communication about something visual can be a bit of a challenge. But with the markup tools Frankie provides, everyone can see what we’re talking about.”
Among the studio’s favorite features in Frankie are the realtime markup tool and the ability to export notes into a PDF file. Additionally, being able to see when a client has logged into the session – whether before or during the conference call — is a helpful function.
Click here to view the final PSA.