FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A 30-second commercial produced to promote the University of Arkansas ONLINE won a platinum Hermes Creative Award, the highest award granted and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals.
Amy Cooper, animation coordinator at the UA Global Campus, believes the animated TV commercial they produced caught the judges’ attention in the international competition because of its ability to evoke emotion.
“Emotionally, I think the commercial has an incredible ability to connect with the viewer through the power of animation,” Cooper said. “We start with an eye-catching sweep down from the iconic Old Main building, and then land on a group of graduates, who, in the next 30 seconds, energetically transform from their graduation apparel into the garb of their careers of choice.”
The commercial is “fun and exciting, and it encourages viewers to think about their own possibilities,” she said. The principles in 2D and 3D animation are the same, Cooper said, with the difference being that 2D animation is hand-drawn while in 3D animation digital sculptures are created and rigged like puppets on strings.
The commercial includes more than 750 frames Cooper drew by hand. However, it was a team effort, she said, with other staff members helping with 3D illustration such as the windows on Old Main and digitally sculpted mannequins used to see how shots Cooper envisioned would work.
The commercial also features what Cooper described as “magical transitions” such as crumpled paper turning into a football as it flies through the air and a woman in a cap and gown moving seamlessly into a hospital room wearing her scrubs with a stethoscope. Each scene morphs into the next without traditional cuts in the action.
Cooper learned basic drawing skills as an art major at UA. After graduation, she went to work at the university’s Tesseract Studio for Immersive Environments and Game Design, where she learned animation skills. At the Global Campus, David Reynolds, an animation supervisor with a background in Hollywood productions, nurtured Cooper’s love for telling stories and storyboarding aptitude.
Reynolds encouraged Cooper to excel in the storytelling aspect of animation, she said. Kris Katrosh, media production manager, and Kay Murphy, director of marketing and communications at the Global Campus, came up with a basic idea for an animated commercial not long before the U of A closed on-campus operations temporarily because of COVID-19.
“The heart of this commercial shows how an education from the University of Arkansas transforms lives by displaying graduates in caps and gowns who transform into the professionals they plan to be,” Murphy said. “That’s powerful. Kris, Amy, David and the rest of the media production team delivered a final version that exceeded our original expectations.”
Television stations across Arkansas aired the animated commercial a few months each fall and spring, beginning in Spring 2021. The same commercial and 15-second clips cut from it ran in internet marketing campaigns, which included placements on YouTube, Hulu and Discovery+. Social media also provided a vehicle to share the commercial.