CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a nationwide organization of volunteers who represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom. Chicago-based production studio Mode Project was enlisted to help tell their story, using animation and live action, of an eight-year-old boy who had been abandoned by his parents and with the help of a CASA volunteer, adopted into a loving family.
During concept development, Mode Project determined that the story should avoid expected visual themes and should focus on the enduring and unchanging presence of the CASA volunteer. “This project is a great example of what can happen when we are brought in at the early stages of creative development,” said Kate Soczka, Mode’s producer. The resulting CG-intensive :60 PSA makes use of an imaginary world of paper cutouts which places the boy and the volunteer firmly in the center of a whirlwind of court proceedings, lawyers and multiple foster homes.
“Since the piece is from the child’s perspective, we wanted the imagery to have a hand-made feel that would help connect the viewer to the boy’s story in a way that was tangible and relatable,” said Stefan Draht, CG project lead. To give the story warmth and authenticity, Mode Project shot live-action footage of a boy in his bedroom making paper cutouts. Subtle, real world details reflected in the 3D modeling make the transitions to live-action footage seamless. Folding CG paper cutouts also mirror real-world dynamics, further blurring the lines between live action and animation.
Mode Project was presented with this opportunity via design studio Thirst/Chicago on behalf of EPIC (Engaging Philanthropy Inspiring Creatives), an organization which helps top-tier creative talent join forces with nonprofit clients. “Mode Project totally made Kelly Butler‘s script come to life in this incredible video hybrid that is obviously digital but remarkably analog in spirit. I love this Mode brand of innocence!” said Thirst’s founder and design director, Rick Valicenti.