Imagine a world… a 3D animated digital world, to be exact, a small town awash in a gorgeous eye-popping palette, where buoyant families work and play while resourcefully coping with the calamities caused by coming storms or their aftermath: downed electrical wires, broken pipes, gas leaks. Newscasts, websites and apps deliver weather updates and the American Red Cross offers storm preparation tips as family members prepare disaster supply kits, safeguard their home and consult with friends and neighbors. On the scene, before and after, are utility crews, gathering materials and supplies and working around the clock to restore power.
That’s the world The Napoleon Group conceived and crafted in a series of dazzling digital shorts (see videos below) for four U.S. energy utilities: Con Edison (New York), PSEG Long Island (New York), Orange & Rockland (New Jersey) and Entergy (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas). Featured in the July 2014 issue of Post Magazine, the digital shorts showcase three of the previz and digital content company’s core strengths: 3D animation, character development and storytelling.
The series began with a 3D animated digital short commissioned by Con Edison in June 2013: “Good to Know,” which shows what’s involved in getting the lights back on as soon as possible after a storm. For “Good to Know,” says VP/Creative Director Ken Kresge, The Napoleon Group “created a unique little town, with exclusively designed characters, buildings and vehicles.” Especially noteworthy, he adds, was the custom 3D animation style.
Con Edison was thrilled with the result.
“After Superstorm Sandy, one company-wide initiative was to improve communications with our customers, helping to explain why it can often take time to restore power after an incident,” says Chris Stetson, Producer/Editor, Con Edison Public Affairs. “Though somewhat unconventional for us, an animated program seemed like a great way to do this. Fast forward one year and the video has gone on to garner thousands of views and win seven awards, including a Webby Honoree. Most importantly, we now have content that clearly and concisely explains the restoration process, so our customers can better understand what it takes to get their lights back on after a storm. Also, they can watch with their kids.”
Featured on Con Edison’s website homepage, “Good to Know” resonated with customers so much that Con Edison commissioned two more digital shorts: “Understanding Gas Restoration,” featuring the environment and characters from “Good to Know,” and “The Benefits of Converting from Oil to Gas,” featuring hand-drawn animation by the legendary Bill Plympton.
Those shorts, in turn, resonated with another audience: fellow energy utilities. PSEG Long Island, Orange & Rockland and Entergy all requested and received permission from Con Edison to commission Napoleon to produce rebranded versions of “Good to Know” and “Understanding Gas Restoration.” PSEG Long Island went a step further and commissioned three original storm-safety shorts: “Evacuating,” “Prepare Your Home and Family” and “Stay in Touch.” For those, Napoleon went back to the drawing board.
“Napoleon upped its game for the new PSEG Long Island shorts,” says Head of Production Perry Morton. “With three shorts to create, we were inspired to develop a fully realized world replete with the idiosyncrasies of everyday life.”
The three new PSEG Long Island shorts unfold over multiple locations, both indoors and out—homes, stores, gas stations, a veterinary office—with a cast of characters that grew to include children, parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, utility workers—even a cat and a dog.
In addition, says 3D Technical Director/Lead Animator Daniel Augsburger, the characters themselves evolved. “They’re designed to be more appealing close up,” he says. “They’re sleeker, more sophisticated and more personable.”
One crucial element remained consistent across all the digital shorts, says Director of Business Development, Paul Johnson, the compelling storytelling for which Napoleon is renowned—storytelling that reflects Napoleon’s brand insight. “The original short Napoleon created for Con Edison was a resounding success because the message was so captivating,” he says. “It not only spoke to customers but other utilities—so much so that they wanted to be a part of it because the unique digital world Napoleon created embodies their brand.”
PSEG Long Island Director of Communications Jeff Weir concurs. “Capturing the attention of our customers and finding new ways to connect with them is incredibly important to PSEG Long Island,” he says. “Napoleon was great to work with—from their creative recommendations to their editing—and we are excited to now have four, highly engaging digital shorts that will help our customers in an emergency.”
Clients: Con Edison, PSEG Long Island, Orange & Rockland, Energy
Production Company: The Napoleon Group
Creative Director: Ken Kresge
Head of Production: Perry Morton
Producers: Perry Morton, Angela Gianforcaro, Shelley Cheung
3D Supervisor: Dan Meyerson
3D Technical Director/Lead Animator: Daniel Augsburger
3D Character Artist: Jason Wolley
Animators: Morr Meroz, Jeff Bryson, Bill Plympton
3D Generalists: Scott Grant, David Pietricola
Art Supervisor: Scott Stein
Storyboard Artist: Norm Morales
Editor/Compositors: Corey Snyder, Jodie Rae Plaut
Voiceover Talents: Jojo Monson, Ken Kresge
Audio Engineers: Stephane Guyot, Adam Charity
The Napoleon Group
Art. Craft. Ingenuity. Those are the deliverables that distinguish The Napoleon Group and the reasons creative thinkers and innovative brands trust us to instill impact and performance in their previsualization, test advertising and digital content.
Drawing on an evolving portfolio of specialized services and styles—animatics, cinematics, live production, art, audio, 3D VFX/motion graphics—Napoleon fashions captivating experiences that spark consumer curiosity, inspire brand loyalty and fuel product sales. In short, we provide deeper consumer insights and consistently higher test scores by creating customized content that connects, compels and converts.
Founded in 1985, The Napoleon Group is a full-service previz and digital content company with a legacy of unrivaled authority and an eye firmly focused on the future. Seizing an opportunity for growth and expansion in 2013, Napoleon moved to New York’s nexus of creativity and technology, the vibrant Flatiron District, and created a dream studio—a one-of-a-kind, more than 14,000-square-foot contemporary office and facility on two floors that’s perfectly suited to the changing nature of the advertising business.
The new project-centric space features a 12-camera Vicon Bonita motion-capture system, a spacious green-screen stage and custom-built edit and audio suites that combine comfort with a stylish efficiency, all seamlessly tied together with state-of-the-art infrastructure. The studio boasts an open-air workspace for 40-plus animators, editors, designers, illustrators, modelers, compositors, scripters, character artists, motion-graphics artists, producers and creative directors that facilitates creative synergy among staff and clients alike and inspires our savvy storytellers to greater heights.
For industry-leading talent, a collaborative culture and a facility designed to exhilarate, agencies seeking a truly creative partnership know where to turn: The Napoleon Group . http://www.napny.com