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Making complex ideas accessible

Talking about
disease is hard.

Especially in the age of social media. Attention is at a premium, and audiences are quick to skip messages that don’t immediately appeal to them.

And when it comes to medical issues, that appeal is not guaranteed to be there. People don’t want to think about negative aspects of their health. Furthermore, medicine is a field of coded professional terms and jargon that’s off-putting and even intimidating to those not in the loop.

Weaving highly complex medical subject matter into striking and captivating content can be a challenge. But what if the topic is serious and somewhat dark?

Diabetes, for example, can be a life-threatening issue. Prediabetes, the medical condition that is a predictor of diabetes, can be detected early enough for the afflicted to make healthy life choices that steer them away from diabetes without medical treatment.  But for most young people, prediabetes is not interesting, and actual type-2 diabetes won’t manifest itself for another 20 to 30 years.

Original project notes

When we got a call from Alexis Reiner at TED asking us to craft a positive and engaging short film around this narrative, we were excited by the challenge. Most medical content is particularly dry. This is due in part to institutional caution, but also to a sort of expected aesthetic that is pervasive in the genre. We knew from the outset that we wanted to break out of that mold with this piece.

We started with a week-long story sprint, which included brainstorming, designs moodboards, and finally scriptwriting. We mapped out and outlined several potential paths for the project.

We settled on a concept which featured whimsical homespun graphic design, a soft and approachable color palette, an introspective score, and young and reassuring narration.

Initial design options

With the design and production plans in place, we quickly got to work on animation, voiceover auditions, and scoring. Working quickly, we had a full rough cut and a short list of voiceover actors within a week. Another week brought final revisions, score, and voiceover recording sessions.

A thanks to Bryan Kopta, our voiceover actor, and Steven Gutheinz & Musicbed who supplied the music.