Michael J Fox Foundation | Solving the Puzzle
Back in Summer 2019 the Michael J Fox Foundation in New York contacted us. They wanted to make a film to describe how Parkinson’s Disease can impact a family, how symptoms may manifest and to communicate the need for volunteers to take part in testing. Working closely with our great American rep Cath Berclaz, it was great to be involved from the preliminary stages, we did a lot of reading around the subject and had long calls with the researchers at the Foundation who talked us through the stages of the disease. From this crash-course we wrote a script.
Layla did some initial character designs which the Foundation loved. The aim was to use simple avatars rather than recognisable human characters. This meant the story could be effectively told in its simplest form without showing gender, class or race.
Using Layla’s characters we collaborated with the excellent Spencer Wilson of Peepshow Collective who used his Illustrator magic to create backgrounds for the piece. Here you can see how Layla’s animatic sketches were worked up into finished designs.
We pulled a small team together and got down to the animation once the script, animatic and designs were signed off. Most characters were rigged and animated in Adobe After Effects using shape layers. Our lead animator Alex Potts created hero animation in Adobe Animate. This was an effective way to animate multiple characters.
This film is aimed at a wide audience so our challenge was to translate some of the complicated scientific in as concise a manner as possible. This lead to some fun experiments in data visualisation.
Although a longer process than usual, we are super pleased with how this film came out. The cherry on the cake was getting to work with the great Alan Alda who provided the narration. His warmth and empathy for the subject are an important part of the storytelling. We can also recommend Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid podcast where some fascinating scientific topics are explored.
Narration- Alan Alda
Director- Layla Atkinson
Producer- Richard Barnett
US Exec Producer- Cath Berclaz
BG Illustration- Spencer Wilson
Animation- Alex Potts, Layla Atkinson, Rok Predin
Sound Design/Mix- Rory Hunter @ Fonic
MJFF Credits needed