The 15-million dollar animation

In early 2011, MPG was asked by representatives of the Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS for short, whew) to help them put together a short video that they could show to Congress. The goal was to visualize and tell the story behind a system that could help solve America’s energy problem (and to receive a $15 million grant from the government to make this system a reality).  So we went to work on a completely hand-drawn depiction set to narration/music that did the job.   Once the story had been figured out step by step and pre-drawn (no small feat), our animator Jason Adams had the task of doing the drawing live while a camera rolled.  Then the 3 hours of footage was carefully sped up and slowed down to match the narrative line.  This process, from concept to finished product took around a month – which is incredibly fast!

Here, you see Jason hard at work.  The camera was mounted straight above with a locked framing.  Lighting was tricky as we needed to avoid as much glare as possible on the white board but still see the detail.  Then came the task of making it somewhat comfortable for Jason to work with – elevating the working surface, giving him clear lines to monitors so he could see what he was doing, and a flag mounted just shy of the bottom of frame so that his head didn’t poke into the shot – only his drawing hand.

The edit was painstaking but also fun.  Being able to see it come together with appropriate pacing was a great experience.  And, IBSS received their grant from Congress – so it was all worth a months hard work.

Jessamyn monitors Jason’s progress in the studio master control room

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