Behind the Scenes on “Autism Speaks” with Gui Marcondes
Building his narrative on the experiences of Jacob, an 11 year-old autistic boy, NYC-based director/CD Guilherme Marcondes and the Sao Paulo crew of Lobo use a mix of miniatures and CG to craft a touching and informative piece for US advocacy org Autism Speaks thru BBDO NY and the Ad Council.
Director Gui Marcondes: “The goal of the campaign is communicating the signs of autism in children to help parents recognize them early.
“That’s Autism Speaks mission and BBDO NY decided that the best course of action for the campaign would be to hear the signs from those who actually experience them and recreate it an universal way through animation.
“’What’s truer to Jacob’s experience?’ was the question we asked ourselves before every creative decision. Jacob is a 11 year-old boy, first diagnosed with autism at 3, whose experiences provided the foundation of the campaign.
Behind the scenes:
“The first step in our creative process was to spend some time with Jacob and his family. The situations portrayed in the script originated from Jacob’s recollections, but we showed them through a fable-like lens, emphasizing their emotional core turning his personal incidents into a story anyone can relate to.
“For example, one scene that speaks of the boy being scared and upset by changes was inspired by the one day when Jacob’s mom had to take a detour from their daily path to the supermarket, causing Jacob a great deal of distress.
“Our version of this moment doesn’t show cars or city streets, but the boy sailing on a river in a little boat until he is diverted from the main stream into a scary forest.
“Another scene, where the boy is surrounded by bug-eyed creatures, is inspired by the fact that Jacob doesn’t like looking people in the eye – making eye contact with others can be very challenging for some people with autism – and also influenced the design of the characters in the scene.
“The idea of creating a fantasy world grounded in reality was reinforced by the decision to build all settings as actual scale models in the studio.
“Everything you see in the film apart from the animated characters are real miniature objects, a combination of fabricated props and natural materials that give the spot a tactile, handcrafted feel. The intricacy of detail, the richness of texture also contribute to an immersive experience which draws the viewers in, helping them empathize with the boy’s condition.
“The integration between real settings and CG characters was achieved using three different motion control rigs, capable of performing small and precise moves. A compact Black Magic camera was chosen for its ability to slip into the narrowest spaces on our model sceneries.
“The camera movements were then transposed into the 3D software where the characters were being animated, so it would seem they were all part of the same shot. Meticulous texture, shading and lighting work was employed to mimic the materials used in the sets, in order to create a seamless blend between natural and digital elements.
“Throughout the whole process we never lost sight of the real motivating force behind our work: Jacob’s story. By sticking to this principle, we expect to have crafted a film that is worthy of his life experience – and one that helps parents and families of many other children with autism as well.”
Finished spot (director’s cut)
Client: Autism Speaks
Agency: BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
Executive Creative Director: Matt MacDonald
CD/Copywriter: Mark Anderson
ACD/Art Director: Bianca Guimarães
Senior Producer: Whitney Collins
Executive Music Producer: Melissa Chester
Production Company: Lobo
Director: Guilherme Marcondes
Creative Executive Producer: Loic François Marie Dubois
Producer: Aron Matschulat Aguiar
Director of Photography: Alexandre Elaiuy, Vince Vennitti
Associate Producer: Eliza Flores
Type Designer: Marcello Righini
Digital Creative Director: Carolina Azevedo
Music and Sound Design: Human NY
Sound Mixer: Corey Bauman
Cinematographer: Andreia Demarchi
Editor: Marcelo Teixeira
Real models artist: Marcos Perassollo