Earlier this month, nonprofit PAWS NY launched a new animated spot spotlighting the mental health benefits of the human and animal bond, titled The Bridge. Lou Reed’s haunting 1972 hit “Perfect Day” and animated gritty New York cityscape set the scenes for a beautiful tale of a connection between an abandoned dog and a lonely, suicidal New Yorker. The spot is animated by Rio de Janeiro-based LightFarm Studios and written and produced by Cannes-Lions-winning Klick Health. We had the chance to interview Ramon Lima (LightFarm Studios) , the talented director of The Bridge via email:
Animag: Can you tell us how you got involved with this wonderful project?
Ramon Lima: Our friends at Klick Health approached us with their concept, strategy, and creative direction for this beautiful film in an effort to support PAWS NY, a nonprofit whose mission is to preserve the human-animal bond.With the COVID-19 pandemic triggering a loneliness epidemic, the mental health benefits of pets have become increasingly relevant. Like Klick, LightFarm Studios is passionate about using our creativity to make a meaningful difference, and partnering with PAWS NY and Klick on THE BRIDGE was the perfect fit to bring to life the story of a lonely man and an abandoned dog rescuing each other to help amplify an important message all of us are passionate about.
How long did it take to make and which animation tools did you use?
The short took us six months to complete.We worked mainly in Blender for all the animation, look development, and rendering.We worked with Photoshop for pre-production, and concept creation, as well as texture painting. We then used DaVinci Resolve and After Effects for all of post-production.
How did you come up with the striking visuals and stylized imagery?
We worked closely with the Creative and Production teams at Klick Health to develop the visuals and imagery. The main characters were designed to have unusual proportions and edgy, scribbled textures to portray their stress and agony. The shaky effect on all the characters, objects, and fonts creates an overall sense of instability and a need for resolution.
The overall art direction of the film was developed to create a hostile world where our characters feel cramped and unwelcome in the world they inhabit, which we designed to feel. distorted with Gothic-inspired angles.The colors blue and gray in the film are a metaphor for our lead character’s mental state. As the man and dog begin to form their bond, the blue/gray turns to a warmer orange. When that final, powerful connection is made between the man and the dog in that pivotal moment of the film, you see this beautiful burst of yellow to signify the brightness and joy they bring to each other’s lives.
How many people worked on the project?
All told, around 40 people from both organizations worked on The Bridge.
How closely did you work with the spot’s writers and creative team in the U.S?
We worked very closely with the team at Klick Health, who were very involved with the story and character development, background design, audio and sound design, and overall look-and-feel of the film. Over the course of six months, we met with the Klick creative team frequently to collaborate and bounce ideas around as we developed the film.
The Bridge was actually inspired by a heartwarming true story Klick’s Bernardo Romero was told during a difficult time in his life. When riding the New York City subway shortly after losing his own dog, a stranger shared the story with Bernardo in an attempt to cheer him up. We hope the short will be a catalyst for more life-changing encounters between fur friends and people and will help PAWS NY in their fundraising efforts so they can keep doing their amazing work.
What did you love about this project?
We loved working with the Klick Health Creative and Production teams to bring this story to life. It was a great opportunity to take a different approach from the typical animation style.
And your biggest challenges?
Combining the various tools we had at-hand to decide which pipeline we’d use to match the hand-crafted look and feel of the early references we scoped.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this spot?
We hope this film resonates with people and helps anyone going through tough times. We also think it’s important to maintain that sacred animal-human bond and raise awareness of the amazing work being done by PAWS NY every single day. Like PAWS says in their motto, “helping people, helping pets.”
On the creative side, success for us is reaching people with an important and meaningful message that could make a positive impact in their lives. It’s also about showing that there is a place for beautiful craft and powerful storytelling in healthcare communications.
Why do you think animation works so beautifully to convey the message of the spot?
Animation is an art form that can be used to tell powerful and complex stories — like The Bridge’s beautiful love story between a down-on-their-luck dad and dog who ultimately rescue each other by forming a life-saving bond.
For more info, visit pawsny.org
Watch the spot below: