Tag Archives: PSA

Hinge Digital takes on animated AdoptUSKids PSA

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.

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The storyboard and concept for “Suitcase”

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.


Alex Tysowsky

“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.

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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.

Lesley Chilcott revisits education with ‘#TEACHnow’ PSA

By Randi Altman

Documentary filmmaker and commercial director Lesley Chilcott tackled the topic of education when she produced Waiting for Superman, a documentary that investigated public education in America.

She has returned to that topic once more, this time for the small screen and in the form of a 60-second public service announcement called #TEACHnow for Participant Media, a company that focuses on feature film, television, publishing and digital content meant to inspire social change. #TEACHnow premiered in early May as part of National Teacher Appreciation Week.

Lesley Chilcott (producer on An Inconvenient Truth and It Might Get Loud) talks about making this education PSA under the Rabbit Content banner. You can view it here.

Lesley Chilcott

What inspired the PSA?
Participant Media asked me to create a short spot to inspire teachers, but to make it something we’ve never seen before and to give it scope. After talking about it for awhile, I became stuck on one thought… you know those epic recruiting spots made for the military? Why not make one for our everyday heroes — teachers? I mean, who hasn’t had that special teacher that changed the way they look at things?

How did you come up with the story?
Creatively, I thought it might be interesting to follow four teachers getting ready for their first day of class. Instead of jumping out of helicopters they would be doing everyday things…tying a shoe, putting on a jacket, driving to school. And then showing how interesting prepping for your classroom can be.

These are our everyday heroes doing everyday things… and yet, these are the people that are teaching the future. So you’ll see an abundance of sun flares as our teachers go to school. I wanted to say, “Take a new look, the classroom is an exciting place.” Teachers now can have a lot of creativity in their careers. Mainly, I wanted to visually illustrate that teaching is so important that it deserves its own recruitment piece showing teachers as the heroic, life-changing, amazing people they are. I also wanted a big dramatic score, something composter Peter G. Adams ran with and really delivered.

You directed this piece, yes?
Yes. It was extra special to me because I was able to concept, write and direct — something we don’t always get to do.

What did you shoot on and why?
We used two Arri Alexa XTs with Elite anamorphic lenses. We only had a full day with our crew and then had a splinter unit a second day for some additional shots. We also had a Steadicam for a few shots.

LAdy with numbers tying shoe

Who was your DP?
Logan Schneider, whom I use a lot for both commercial work and documentaries. He brought an immense amount of creative ideas to the project, and not every DP can do great handheld work with anamorphic lenses like he can. His crew is also fantastic and really worked hard on this. Additionally, my production designer, Heidi Adams, was a key player. The classrooms look magical and yet very real.

What kind of look were you after?
I wanted to bring scale to an everyday occurrence: going to school to teach. Anamorphic lenses gave me scope and scale and we turned the world of teaching into a world with 12 suns.

Where did you do the shoot?
We shot in the Valley and downtown LA.

Where did you go for the post?
I love working with Chris Catanach at Stitch Editorial. He is clever, fast and he really brought a beautiful approach to a feel-good piece that honors teachers. Chris is genius at both a commercial approach and documentary style, so he was the perfect choice for this. And he always puts story first.

Teach Still 20 copy

Did you work with the colorist or did the DP?
Both of us went to the session with Leo (Leandro Marini) at Local Hero Post. Luckily for me, Leo was able to hop off his film for a few hours and give us some of his time. It’s one thing to be an amazing colorist, but Leo knows instinctively what is also best for story.

Would you like to add anything?
Two things: Participant Media is always visionary with their social outreach campaigns, so I love being a part of this. As education reform leader Geoffrey Canada, says, “Teachers are a work of art.” We need to show our brightest minds that teaching can be an incredible career choice and Participant clearly believes in this mission.

The other is that all of the crew went above and beyond. When everyone heard this was to honor teachers, everyone was in. Just like that. I think that’s a really nice commentary.

Ntropic helps ‘Stop the Nightmare’

New York — Ntropic recently edited a PSA for Freedom For All Foundation aimed at raising awareness to the global problem of slavery. The foundation also staged “Stop The Nightmare,” a series of three authentic human auctions, live in New York City.

Eager to support the cause, visual studio Ntropic jumped at the chance to edit film footage from the auctions, which were held on Wall Street, Times Square and Washington Square Park on March 5.

Guided by the editing talents of Ntropic creative director Steve Zourntos — who used Flame — the film of the Wall Street auction provides a powerful and emotional look at the auctions, together with the stunned, often outraged reactions of onlookers.


“This was a challenging project for a deeply important and urgent cause,” says director Kim Dempster, who wrote and directed the “Stop The Nightmare” auctions. “I consider this to be the most important project I have ever worked on. Ntropic and Steve jumped into the edit with great vigor and tenacity, and have created an absolutely gut-wrenching film. It is just so real, just watching still reduces me to tears. Ntropic did an amazing job, and we couldn’t have done it without their help.”

“I was excited to be part of this powerful project,” says Zourntos. “I found myself in this surreal and disturbing world that is a terrifying reality for over 27 million people. It was a project that put us through an emotional roller coaster of disbelief, shock, sorrow and outrage. We were honored just to be part of it.”

“We always appreciate the opportunity to work with people who have the ideas and the will to make the world a better place,” says Tom Wright, managing director at Ntropic. “We create things here that take a lot of training and instinct to do well. Working on ‘Stop The Nightmare’ gave us the chance to bring some of our skills to help spread the word about an urgent issue, and we’re truly glad to have had the chance to do that.”


RuckSackNY creates anti-texting/driving PSA in time for Thanksgiving


New York — Manhattan based RuckSackNY has completed a Public Service Announcement in response to the growing number of texting-related car accidents.

RuckSackNY (www.rucksackny.com) created the 30-second spot, Why Did the Turkey Cross the Road?, with the aim of educating the audience about the dangers surrounding texting while driving or walking. See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQlJ-RXtGGc

Fred and Natasha Ruckel, the creative directors working on the texting PSA, spend a significant amount of time driving between the city and various shoot locations, encountering, like many of us, drivers swerving and veering precariously, sometimes at high speed, while scrolling through their text messages.

“It scares me to be on the road at times”, noted Fred Ruckel, “Because a car could just slam right into you.” Fred’s wife and business partner, Natasha, finds the situation stressful, but would lament, “There’s nothing you can do about it, don’t let it get to you.”

After a few near misses, Fred decided that there had to be something that he could do about it. “I wanted make a Public Service Announcement video to help raise awareness.”

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