- Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2017
In partnership with leading ad agency RPA, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation has just unveiled a groundbreaking campaign harnessing some of the global creative industry's brightest stars. Collectively, this partnership has produced a series of 20 animated films addressing many of the first experiences children and their loved ones face with a cancer diagnosis. Each of these films features fictional characters called the Imaginary Friend Society who teach kids about cancer treatment in ways that are easy to understand. Among these films – now available online at https://www.imaginaryfriendsociety.com – bicoastal creative production company Gentleman Scholar is very proud to have been selected to produce the three-minute opening piece, "Welcome to the Imaginary Friend Society."
According to the PBTF and its partners, this new film series has been brought to life due to a lack of quality material focusing on the medical and emotional aspects of cancer specifically for children. The PBTF knows first-hand how kids with cancer must face an array of invasive procedures that are scary and confusing. The Imaginary Friend Society was actually born from cancer survivors who used imaginary friends to cope with their treatments.
"It's our goal to help the more than 4,600 children diagnosed with a primary brain or central nervous system tumor each year. That's 13 new cases per day," said Robin Boettcher, President and CEO of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. "These films help us equip, educate and empower families throughout their journey by explaining difficult aspects of cancer care and giving children confidence and courage to fight this disease."
"I'm so thrilled we could get so many real friends together to bring the Imaginary Friend Society to life," said Jason Sperling, SVP/Chief of Creative Development at RPA. "This colossal project was an absolute labor of love, worth the enormous effort it took to make it happen. To make these terrifying experiences a little easier for kids dealing with cancer, and to bring smiles to their faces during a truly difficult time, makes it all worth it."
Naturally, being invited to introduce the Imaginary Friend Society to the world was a great honor for everyone at Gentleman Scholar, including directors William Campbell and Will Johnson, associate creative director Michael Tavarez and their colleagues, executive producer Jo Arghiris, senior producer Tyler Locke, and CG supervisor Tim Hayward, among many others.
"Of course, it was paramount that we push ourselves to construct something remarkable," Tavarez began. "Our goal became crafting a world that would serve as the central station for all the other videos in the series. To embody all these animations and their different mediums, we designed dozens of mixed-media characters who could live together. As the narrative unfolds, the audience is led through one expansive, stylized environment after another. The characters and the mediums blend together seamlessly, creating a mesmerizing synthesis of styles."
Key workflow tools for Gentleman Scholar included Autodesk Maya, which was used for modeling, The Foundry's Nuke software for compositing and Adobe's After Effects for finishing… while Redshift's GPU-accelerated 3D rendering software once again played a VIP role. With more than 50 characters walking, flying, skating, slinking and sliding around the environments, highly detailed renders were readily available throughout the development process.
"Bob, our main character, has many qualities that usually make rendering slow," Tavarez added. "For instance, he is covered in fine fur… and many shots needed close-up angles with high quality details. Using Redshift 3D allowed us to render these details much faster and simpler."
For "Welcome to the I.F.S.," the music and sound design were handled by Jeremy Turner. Those elements as well as the spot-on voiceover talents for Bob and Cornelius drew high praise from the Gentleman Scholar team. "We were happy to lend our resources to bring the Imaginary Friend Society to life," Tavarez concluded. "Beginning with the agency, many wonderfully creative people donated their time and talent for this fantastic cause."
Looking to the future, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is teaming with child life specialists, social workers and medical staff at hospitals across the United States, as well as other childhood cancer nonprofits, to bring this film series to families in the midst of treatment. The Imaginary Friend Society also invites everyone to submit a drawing of their own imaginary friend at https://www.imaginaryfriendsociety.com or within social posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, using #ImaginaryFriendSociety. Submitted drawings will be used to create dolls for those newly diagnosed, as well as coloring books, journals and motivational posters that will be available early next year as part of this campaign's second phase.
Complete project credits for "Welcome to the Imaginary Friend Society" and more behind-the-scenes project details are available at http://www.gentlemanscholar.com.
About the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation
The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is the world's largest nonprofit solely dedicated to fighting the deadliest childhood cancer. Since 1991, the PBTF has funded more than $29 million in research to improve quality of life, increase survivorship and cure pediatric brain tumors. The nonprofit also offers a variety of family support programs and resources to educate, equip and empower families as they face the challenges that come with a pediatric brain tumor diagnosis. The PBTF's national events include Ride for Kids motorcycle charity rides, Starry Night 5Ks and Vs. Cancer fundraisers. Join the PBTF in its mission to Care. Cure. Thrive. at http://www.curethekids.org.
RPA, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., is a leading independent full-service advertising agency, whose mission is to create ideas and experiences that put "People First," within a culture that empowers individuals and teams. RPA has a proven track record of building brands while building businesses into positions of category leadership, and has been rewarded with many long-term client relationships because of it. RPA's client list includes American Honda, ampm, Apartments.com, ARCO, CoStar Group, Farmers Insurance Group, La-Z-Boy and Southwest Airlines. For more information, visit http://www.rpa.com.
About Gentleman Scholar
Gentleman Scholar is a creative production company drawn together by a love for design and an eagerness to push boundaries. Since launching in Los Angeles in 2010 and expanding to New York in 2016, Gentleman Scholar has staked its claim across all media platforms. In the hands of its diverse team the company continues to evolve in the disciplines of live-action production, animation, digital exploration, print, and VR. Experience its powerful fusion of story, style, technology and design at http://www.gentlemanscholar.com.
Spot Name: "Welcome to the Imaginary Friend Society"
Running Time: 2:46
Main Tools: Autodesk Maya for modeling; The Foundry's Nuke software for compositing; Adobes After Effects for finishing; Redshift for rendering.
Debut Date: Sep. 24, 2017
Client: The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation
Design and Animation Company: Gentleman Scholar
Directors: William Campbell & Will Johnson
Executive Producer: Jo Arghiris
Head of Production: Rachel Kaminek
Associate Creative Director: Michael Tavarez
CG Supervisor: Tim Hayward
Senior Producer: Tyler Locke
Lead Designer: Hana Eunjin Yean
Designers: Cristina Barna, Ana Chang, Leah Evans, Trish Janovic, Jina Kwon, Christina Liang, John Patrick Rooney
Cel Animator: Danni Fisher-Shin
Model/Texture Artists: Allan Bernardo, Michael Dupree, Jamie Ohara, Yas Koyama, Travis Mangaoang, Chris Russo
Lead Animator: James Lane
3D Animators: Eric Molina, Sarah Wolfe
Lighters: Paul Hargrave, Robin Kim
Hair/Fur: Adnan Hussain
Compositor: Kevin Njoo
Storyboards: Bryan Deloach
Sound Design and Music: Jeremy Turner
Special Thanks for Donations:
Blue Pencil Concept
Redshift Rendering Technologies