IBM Automation – Glow
The personal computer. Internet. iPhones. The world has evolved rapidly in the past two decades. Now, artificial intelligence is poised to forever change how work gets done.
Office workers are inundated by menial tasks. Emails, data entry, spam, and finding meeting times rob employees of their most productive hours in a day.
Enter IBM Automation. Their AI-powered software and solutions help enterprise clients reclaim that lost time. So they can focus on what’s important—creative innovation, execution, and growth. The building blocks of any company. Less time wasted, more focused time doing meaningful work.
After an extensive bid process, we were selected by the good folks over at Myriad Media to bring an inspiring, risky concept to life. Max Zampieri, Creative Director, and his team came up with a wild idea they coined “Glow.” They wanted to create a dramatic narrative that tells a story of inspiration, defeat, and triumph of a new employee in Any Enterprise, USA. The only catch was we had to tell the story without voice-over or dialogue. After thinking critically about how to pull this off, we decided on traditional cel animation. We wanted to make the project nuanced, emotional, and slightly flawed—in a good way. What better way to tell a tech story than by using cel animation—the hand-drawn, frame-by-frame technique invented in 1914?
Glow is the story of Jane, a young lady who lands her dream job at a large corporation. At first, she radiates energy and enthusiasm. However, she quickly learns that her colleagues are heavily burdened by menial tasks. Eventually, Jane’s enthusiasm succumbs to the repetitive tasks, and her glow fades. She becomes another humdrum employee. Ticking, tapping, going through the motions. Until—IBM Automation comes in and relieves her, allowing her to break free of the chains of monotonous, repetitive low-level tasks. Her cognitive energy is freed up, and she’s able to focus on work that matters.
To ensure maximum visual impact and cultural relevance for a global audience, we worked hand-in-hand with Max and his team to shape the Glow script and mold the story. It’s highly unusual for a studio to be involved from the very beginning, but we were glad to collaborate from the jump.
Cel animation is complicated and painstaking. To get everyone on the same page and keep us on budget, we created a process sheet detailing each stage of the project. The main steps are written art direction, pencil sketches, styleframes, character explorations, storyboards, Rough Draft 1 (pencil test), Rough Draft 2, and final. Side note: read this if you’re interested in learning more about our 2D motion design process.
Reece Parker—our go-to cel animation partner—is outrageously talented. We brought him on right away as CD and lead illustrator/animator for production. We tapped frame-by-frame enthusiast Henrique Barone (formerly at Giant Ant) to lead the animation team and tackle the most difficult scenes. Rounding out the team was Adam Henderson, Erich Reimers, Salvador Padilla, and Dennis Wardzala. With Hung overseeing all production and lending a hand with the crazy creative solves, our band of misfits marched into a 6-week production timeline. We had a lot of work to do on a ridiculously short runway.
Hung masterfully oversaw all creative and production, rolling up his sleeves and jumping in to guide the team, while offering compositing and 2D animation help when needed. Our team of 10 (including Sono Sanctus on music and sound design) worked day and night to hit our milestones, all while offering creative solves to the client to keep things on-budget and hit the deadline right on the nose.
We’re proud of the end result. Jane was a pleasure to bring to life, and we hope you enjoy our labor of love.
Cel Animation Process
Company: IBM Automation
Agency: Myriad Media
Agency Creative Director: Max Zampieri
Agency Executive Producer: Chris Young
Agency Senior Producer: Drew Grimes
Scriptwriter: Kate Cortesi
Motion Design Studio: BIEN
Executive Creative Director: Hung Le
Executive Producer: Ricardo Roberts
Creative Director: Reece Parker
Illustration: Reece Parker
2D Animators & Compositors: Hung Le, Reece Parker
Cel Animation: Reece Parker, Henrique Barone, Adam Henderson, Erich Reimers, Dennis Wardzala, Salvador Padilla
Custom Music Score: Sono Sanctus
Sound Design: Sono Sanctus