Great collaboration is rare, but inspiring when it happens. That’s the relationship we have with Brad Blackburn. For the past few years we’ve been entrusting many of our most ambitious visions and aggressive deadlines to this wonderful creative partner.

We asked Brad to share some of the secret ingredients to our successful relationship by talking about The Long White Line video project we developed for our friends at the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association. The video is one of the centerpieces of a phased upgrade to the 108-year-old organization’s storied brand.

The idea dump.

Collaborating always brings out the best in artists, and passing the story back and forth from our agency to Churchill really refined the concepts. We initially were going to go with a more artistic approach, incorporating ink splatter and hand drawn portraits. With this approach we were going to connect the viewer to the PSNA with an emotive CTA via a timeline of nursing milestones.

After a few meetings though, it became apparent that this visual approach was not going to fit the project as well as first thought. The narrative was pretty firm at that point, but we had to go back to the drawing board on visuals.

Our process always starts with thinking things through. A lot of agencies go straight to the computer and Photoshop to start working, but we’ve always focused on the message and meaning behind the story first. With this as our guide we went back to streamline the story while Churchill Strategies took a 3-4 minute script down to just over a minute.

The storyboard.

With a simplified script we were quickly able to re-envision the graphic style and come up with some solid storyboards. Visually planning out a cinematic sequence has always helped us to really identify all of the assets we will need to create without wasting time drawing in circles. By this time we had already identified several nurse iterations we were going to use in the video as our main character, and from there we built out, designing the other characters to follow the same form.

While the storyboards were coming together, I was able to get a talented composer and performing artist named Paris Jones in on the project to do an original score. Jeff provided the overall vision for the sound and from there I took to formulating a specific direction. PJ was able to compose several iterations that we were able to fine tune into a finished score in almost no time.

By the time the storyboards were done we were already well into the production of the video. The score was finished and we had already wrapped the voice over based on the final script Jeff sent over. About 70% of all the illustrations were already complete, including all of our nurse characters. All that we needed to create were a few set pieces and characters. Having two talented illustrators working in tandem helped tremendously.

Even before all of the illustrations were complete we started animating. I had cut the final soundtrack together with score and voice over, so I already had the pacing set. Like our character silhouettes, our animation style was simple. The fast pace of the voice over and driving charge of the score didn’t leave much time to integrate complex character movements, so we had to express the movement as efficiently as possible. Most of the animation was handled in 2D in After Effects, but there were a few key elements in the globe scene we were able to take up a level in 3D using Cinema 4D. The effect is subtle but you it gives a little more depth to the composition.

In total we had a production window of 5 days. The production process we implemented really helped us stay productive and efficiently get from point A to point B in as little time as possible. It was a very busy 5 days, but having the finished script in place at project start, and very talented people ready to work made it possible to wrap production on deadline.

The final product.

I’m a firm believer in process and organization, and this project is a sure case of them winning the day for us. Jeff’s team was great for direction, and support. Without the support of a talented team all around, there would have been no way I could have finished a project like this in so short a time. In total B2B Studios had 5 team members and 3 other agencies involved in the production.

People see a short video and don’t really realize how much effort it is to develop something we all take for granted. The level of sophistication in media is becoming more and more detailed every year as consumers expect and demand more cinematic quality in even the simplest forms of visual communication they digest. This means that the videos we will produce this time next year will be even more engaging, detailed and complex.

We really enjoyed working on this video project, and as always Jeff and the team at Churchill Strategies were great from the get-go. The payoff for us is being able create something original in areas that we are passionate about for clients who appreciate the quality and work we put in.

Notebook Author: Brad Blackburn

Brad Blackburn is the Founder and President of B2B Studios, LLC. Since 2005 B2B Studios has been serving its clientele as a boutique digital arts agency, creating original designs solutions. B2B offers its services in several key areas including: graphic design, branding, 3D visualization, Illustration, UI/UX, and motion graphics. Their approach is to partner with agencies of shared vision, like Churchill Strategies, to develop elegant, inspirational and beautiful media with maximum impact and lasting value.

B2B Studios Credits
Brad Blackburn – Director/Creative Director
Tiffany Smith – Character Illustrator
Isaiah Gillis – Scene Illustrator/Character Illustrator
Paris Jones – Composer
April Kelly – Voice Artist

Special Thanks to:
William Herring: Somba Mobile
Won Novalis/Justin Rossbacher: Abandon Films
Adam Everett Miller: Hello Studios