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Goal
To use animation as a means of conveying the multifaceted issue of sustainable forest management. To reach people on an accessible level and get forests into daily conversation. Forests fulfill a diverse range of functions; they include some of the world’s most biodiverse habitats and they are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Client: Global Environment Facility
Published: May 17, 2015
The Challenge
Identifying the right look and feel to accompany a story that scales from micro to macro. Finding the words, characters, and examples that the viewer could relate to and distill a message from.

Due to the scale of the project, the number of scene changes, characters and objects that would need to be created, the team had to set rigid style boundaries to maintain cohesion throughout the piece. Storyboards, animation tests and works in progress were integral to ensure both parties were on the same page as the project went on.

It was important to explore this very serious issue in a way that maintains a positive outlook. There are a lot of facts and figures needed to provide a sense of gravity to the situation, but too many would be detrimental to the overall message of the piece. We were warned about the common pitfalls associated with films about forests that tend rely on sentimentality rather than what’s happening now and what can be done to sustain our ecosystem. To counteract this tendency we shifted our attention from the forest as an amazing organism to its impact on our society and daily lives.

The Solution
Once a script outline was drafted addressing key issues about sustainable forest management, we needed to provide loose story structure that would allow for our narrator to explore a wide range of topics. We chose to center our story around an activity, our narrator going to the grocery store. Along the way, her interactions with characters lead down different tangents that address aspects of sustainable forestry. We consciously wanted to be aware of our present day mentality, from searching for answers in our smart phones to acknowledging the tendency to glaze over when confronted with overwhelming problems.

In the initial discussions about the piece there was an emphasis to avoid generic phrases and analogies. This conversation bled into the creative process on a day-to-day basis. By working through the most obvious solutions, we were able to see new approaches. We had a rigid schedule that required us to start new shots almost every other day. To maximize our impact we would spend considerable time talking through the scenes and visualizing our storyboard in different ways. Animation is a black hole; it will take as much time as you have. Focusing our animation goals at the start of each day was essential. Without clearly defining the most important elements of each shot we would might have lingered too long and gone off schedule.

The Results
A three and a half minute animation that explores the function and reality of forests in present day. Mixing 2d and 3d scenes, some complex and other stripped down, the piece takes the viewer through a constantly-changing world while offering important statistics and solutions along the way.

The GEF will use this film at events and online to raise awareness about the importance of forests and increasing need for sustainable forest management.

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