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Blind Brings Archived Stories to Life for Ancestry.com

When Ancestry.com wanted to commission a project commemorating the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War's start, they identified Blind as the ideal company to design and execute the animation/vfx-intensive job.

Press Release from Blind

When Ancestry.com wanted to commission a project commemorating the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War's start, they identified Blind as the ideal company to design and execute the animation/vfx-intensive job. The result is a lyrical, moving and informative piece (presented alternately as a 4:00 long-form Web documentary, a :30, and a :15 spot) about the bloody conflict using the true stories of three soldiers, set against a backdrop of sepia-tinted stills, historical footage and documents culled from millions of records.

"The Civil War's anniversary is a very important event, and Ancestry.com wanted to use it as a backdrop to encourage people to go to their site and explore it," reports Blind CD Tom Koh. "They'd scripted the stories from records available on the Ancestry.com site, and the film became an engaging way of illustrating the real events that lie behind these historical documents."

Blind EP Dave Kleinman added, "This was a very interesting project across the board. Aside from offering Blind an opportunity to work outside the typical spot format, there is an interesting focus on the Civil War and its legacy, and we set out to create a dynamic, compelling piece that does justice to these real-life events."

Although Koh and his team were given complete access to the extensive Ancestry.com archive of documents and photographs, pulling the film together presented a significant challenge as the records didn't include an abundance of artifacts specific to the three featured soldiers. Consequently, the team spent much of the initial time figuring out creative techniques to use animation and visual effects to tell these stories through any images and photographs they could find, even if those images were not specific to those three soldiers.

In the end, the team used a mixture of public domain material from the U.S. Library of Congress and other images to supplement the site material from Ancestry.com. "They came to us with a wide range of material, which we used to help direct them on how it could all be used to captivate the viewer," said Koh.

"This was a pretty ambitious project," summed up Koh. "Normally when we do a job, there's a lot of very careful planning involved, and it's easier when we can create our own shots with autonomy. But this was quite demanding because we had to deal with pre-existing assets, and it's unusual to plan a job in which we're not quite sure what we're going to arrive at with the edit. So for two weeks we dedicated all our time on getting that edit right. It was a rewarding process and we were all really proud of what we were able to create."

Even more rewarding are the comments and feedback we've received from Ancestry.com as well as others who attended it's initial screening at an event in Washington D.C.

Credits:Spots Title: Civil WarAir Date: April 2011

Client: Ancestry.comCD: Shawn PerkinsACD/Art Director: Joe MarciniakACD/Copywriter: Elizabeth AsdoriaProducer: Lisa Stewart

Prod Company: BlindCD: Tom KohEP: David KleinmanProducer: Shannon KorsArt Director: Lawrence WyattEditor: Sean U'Ren, Carsten BeckerAssistant Editor: Lin Wilde

Post/Effects: BlindLead Animator: Jason Kim3D Animators: Lawrence Wyatt, Christian Argueta, Aekachai Kietchalermporn2D Animators: Joe Todoran, Daniel Chang, Kate Mrozowski, Sora ParkMatte Painter(s): Eric Urquhart, Kevin ShinDesigner(s): Tom Koh, Steve PachecoRotoscope: Sora Park, Kate Mrozowski, Kevin Shin

Music/Sound Design: Glue AudioComposer(s): Sean Holt, Hugh Barton

Audio Post: ElevenEngineer: Scott Burns

About Blind:Blind, a multi-disciplinary design, motion graphics, animation, visual effects, live-action, editorial, print and broadcast design studio with offices in Santa Monica and NYC, taps into diverse intellectual and creative resources to come up with compelling results. Since 1995, Blind has been pushing beyond the expected, offering clients a new way to see with award-winning design. A few things remain constant amidst this design/production powerhouse's constant drive to reinvent itself: the abilities to engender surprise and produce projects from conception to reality.

Blind's creative team has built an uncommon level of respect in the advertising and entertainment communities via cutting-edge campaigns for brands such as Xbox, Showtime, Bright House Networks, DirecTV, OppenheimerFunds, McDonald's, Scion, and recording artists including Gnarls Barkley, The Raveonettes and Justin Timberlake to name a few. In 2010, Blind took home a Creative Arts Emmy for their work on The Raveonettes' Heart of Stone music video, as well as a Gold London International Award for the stunning Dr. Martens motion graphics piece, Lilac Wine.

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