When Ad Council needed an informative COVID-19 PSA for parents and their children, creative agency Hinge offered its services pro bono. We spoke to Hinge Partner and Executive Producer, Roland Gauthier, about the rapid two-week production schedule, and how the Portland team stayed connected with the PSA’s NY-based agency creatives.
The impact of COVID-19 was sudden and profound. Few could have predicted that the lives of billions would alter to such an extent; their daily schedules substituted for a new status quo of lockdown, social distancing, and quarantine.
These measures were all for the greater good, of course. It was paramount that the public followed government advice to counteract and ultimately halt the spread of the pandemic. And to follow the advice, the public needed to understand it. A nationwide communication effort was necessary to ensure all important guidelines and informative resources around COVID-19 were readily available.
And thus the Stay Here-Os entered the scene.
The Stay Here-Os is a new campaign from the American PSA nonprofit Ad Council, created in partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The campaign has a specific objective: educating parents and their children on how to stay safe as they navigate COVID-19’s challenges.
Ad Council engaged Boston agency Hill Holliday to create the campaign and production studio Hinge to bring the visuals to life. Frankie was there to help connect the dots throughout a swift two-week production, uniting both remote creatives and their ideas as they collaborated from coast to coast.
The Stay Here-Os
The Stay Here-Os are, specifically, the three protagonists of Hill Holliday’s COVID-19 campaign. Each “Here-o” has a specific superpower: The Great Hygeenie wields mastery over all things sanitary, Dr. Distancio commands physical distancing and virtual playdates, and General Feels conjures up positivity and mental wellbeing. Together, the three Stay Here-Os promote a suite of content designed to teach parents and their children how to react during the crisis and keep children healthy at home.
Hill Holliday’s campaign included digital videos, banners, social graphics, and TV spots. The last task fell on the capable hands of Hinge Digital (aka Hinge), a full-service production studio based out of Portland, Oregon, with 11 years of experience. Hinge worked with the NY Hill Holliday team entirely pro bono, delivering a 30-second peppy blast of Saturday morning-cartoon action, in which the Stay Hero-Os defeat the evil coronavirus via the application of their powers.
Hinge has produced several pro bono animations for nonprofits, including work for Rebuilding Together and for AdoptUSKids’ 10th-anniversary ‘You Don’t Have to be Perfect to be a Perfect Parent’ campaign.
“Pro bono work feels important for our studio and our creative team,” says Hinge Partner and Executive Producer, Roland Gauthier. “We can use the experience and skills we’ve honed on commercials and entertainment for important projects that do real good. So, when Hill Holliday approached Hinge as a potential full-production and animation partner in early April, we happily agreed to take on the challenge.”
From Portland to NY
The urgency of the Stay Here-Os message necessitated a tight schedule: design, animation, post, and delivery all completed over two weeks. “With Hinge working out of Portland, and Hill Holliday’s team out of New York – and both teams working remotely from home due to lockdown – clarity across all creative discussions was vital,” says Roland.
Frankie helped to bridge the continent-wide gap.
“We used Frankie in all of our creative video calls to connect our distributed teams in Portland and New York and discuss subtle changes in animation,” continues Roland. “Frankie helped keep everyone in the loop as we progressed our ideas and shots. We could annotate individual animation frames with quick sketches and brainstorm new ideas. We could also track client feedback notes and provide a dynamically generated PDF of comments to our animation and design team.”
As each shot approached final, Frankie became even more vital. “With Frankie, we could show the team at Hill Holliday the evolution of each shot as it progressed. For example, Frankie helped in collaborating on and establishing the look of our end card layout: the superheroes in their power pose.
“Using Frankie kept us all synchronized during what was a very fast-paced production schedule. It made sure everything was pixel perfect.”
David Leonardi, EVP, Executive Creative Director at Hill Holliday Health, confirms the effortlessness of working with Hinge’s team from across the country: “The team is such an easygoing, collaborative group. Their process and software make it easy to hop on a video call to review things together as a complete team and ensure everyone is on the same page. It cuts down on rounds of revisions so the work moves along quickly.”
A new future
Remote workflows aren’t new; if anything, they were growing in popularity and viability even before the onset of COVID-19. The pandemic has introduced a new paradigm, however; one where animation isn’t produced and reviewed just across offices, but across teams working from multiple individual locations by necessity, and collaborating with other organizations just as physically displaced. Reviews aren’t office-to-office, they’re person-to-person-to-person.
With remote reviews more distributed than ever, effective communicative tools have never been so vital. Frankie is just one platform that supports the level of communication and teamwork required, despite the distances that separate us all.
“We regularly recommend Frankie to our clients and production partners, because it’s truly the easiest collaboration tool for stills and animation production,” says Roland. “The platform helps streamline our production process and makes us feel like we’re truly working together, both in-team and with clients, even when apart.
“Now more than any other time – when communication isn’t just important to production, but to educating the entire world on saving lives – that connection is crucial.”
For over a decade, Hinge has produced award-winning commercial and experiential content for brands and agencies, television content, including Turner/adult swim’s Toonami, and game cinematics for Blizzard. Hinge operates a full-service studio staff (currently working from home) and facility in Portland. Capabilities include concepting, storyboarding, design, 2D/motion graphics, CG, VFX, live-action production, audio, editorial, and color. Hinge’s facility also has an on-site render farm, screening theater, motion capture studio, and an in-house bar! Watch Hinge’s studio reel, and learn more about the studio’s latest projects and capabilities.