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Radium's McGowan Talks Trash in Hip Anti-Litter PSA

Ogilvy PR recently commissioned leading digital effects and design studio Radium to direct and design a hip anti-litter PSA. The PSA is part of the LA County Department of Public Works' efforts to inform people about the negative impact littering has on the environment.

The :30 spot, "Can It," shows young people in various outdoor situations -- on a city sidewalk, a park, and public beach -- throwing away garbage into trashcans, rather than in their environment. "Of all the places you can throw something out, a trashcan works best," explains the voiceover. "'Cause everything that's thrown in the street can wash down storm drains and end up in the ocean. So keep our neighborhoods and beaches clean. Can it. To talk trash, call 1 888 CLEAN LA."

According to Radium designer/director Tuesday McGowan, the challenge was to take a mundane message -- in this case, not to litter -- and make it vital and interesting, as well as increasing overall awareness. McGowan worked with photographer Mike Martin to shoot three people using digital stills in slow motion for a stop-motion technique. They shot thousands of stills to capture moments of fluid motion, which gave it a unique and signature look.

"The idea was to set up scenes of young people in various environments eating or drinking and as they appear to be about to litter -- a trash can suddenly materializes in a 3D cubist transition as we witness the person actually throwing the trash away," McGowan explained. "Our goal was to show the simple and quotidian act of throwing something away as significant."

McGowan incorporated the look of the branding identity of the "Can It" campaign by introducing a mint green and red graphic stripe device that follows the individuals through their environments and acts as a visual mnemonic for anti-litter awareness.

McGowan collaborated with Radium editor Alan Chimenti to edit the spot, working closely to capture the rhythm of the stop-motion and subtlety of the action. Radium inferno artist/creative director Simon Mowbray created the signature transitions while after effects artist Julie Jang created the line-art animations. The technology utilized by Radium included Avid, Inferno, After Effects, Illustrator and Photoshop.

Radium ( is located at 321 11th Street in San Francisco and 720 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200 in Santa Monica.

Bill Desowitz's picture

Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.