Digital Design Grad Jullian Ablaza Helps Make A Child’s Wish Come True

Jullian Ablaza working with Emily team

Digital Design grad Jullian Ablaza is a fantastic Motion Designer, just look at his reel to see for yourself. He’s been doing some fine work for Crush lately, including a lovely piece made for the Children’s Wish Foundation about a girl named Emily. It’s based upon a true story involving,  “a family, a child’s life threatening illness and the joy Children’s Wish brought to their lives.”

The Story of Emily

I spoke with Jullian to get the details about this wonderful project.

Hi Julian — So, first of all, what can you tell us about the Children’s Wish Project; how you got involved with it?

Jullian Ablaza: KBS+P came to us at Crush with a different approach for creating a piece to help raise money for the Children’s Wish Foundation. Gravol is one of KBS+P’s clients and a Children’s Wish Foundation’s sponsor. KBS+P wanted to try a different approach at fundraising and pitched this “story book” concept to the folks over at Gravol for CWF. The approach was to tell the story of Emily, a little girl who was involved with the CWF, but through a very charming poem. We thought the copy was very well-written and was a really creative way of telling this little girl’s story.

They asked us to come up with a visual treatment and concept to how we would approach this campaign. We were given a lot of creative freedom and we just ran with it. Because of the whimsical writing, we wanted to create a world that was like a children’s storybook – Emily’s story!

Fortunately, we put together a good pitch and our team, lead by our Creative Director Gary Thomas, presented it and they liked the direction we were headed in. We got the green light and ran with it.

Jullian Working at Crush

Crush seems like a cool company — is this typical of the kind of work that they do?

Jullian: Yes, Crush is a FANTASTIC company. We try to take on as many creatively challenging projects as we can. The cool thing about Crush is we do a wide variety of work, so I can’t really say we have a “typical” kind of work. In the CWF project, it gave us a chance to play around with using A LOT of practical techniques and to do a lot of mix-media, while also doing digital character animation. This project really pushed us creatively and it would be great to get more projects like this one through the door!

By watching the Behind the Scenes video, it’s evident that the whole team had a good time doing it. Can you say a bit about your own personal experience with the project, including the Behind the Scenes video — why was it made (other than the fact that it’s definitely cool)?

Jullian: Oh man, we all had such a blast doing this project. It was all systems go and everyone was on point. It was a lot of long hours, but we had such a great time. I also feel like projects like this bring a team closer together because you’re in the trenches working hard to get the best piece out together. You’re in early and you’re out late at night for the duration of the project — so, long days bring you closer together because we all wanted to deliver the best possible project.

Moving past the pitch and pre-production, I was in-charge of organizing the scenes, managing the two fantastic illustrators (Ashley Barron and Flavia Lopez) who we brought on to help us, and prepare the assets. We were basically building the miniature physical sets using a lot of construction paper and foam.

When a set was built, we would light it the way you would a life-size set, except with miniature LED lights, and then I would help choreograph the movements. For example, a particularly tricky scene was the “change of seasons”. Here we wanted to go from summer to fall to winter, all practically. But to add to the challenge, we wanted to make it feel like the time of day was also adjusting by using a “sun” to shift shadows! AND THEN we decided to go from fall (day) to winter (NIGHT)! It took about 5 people doing different movements to get all the transitions down and a lot of adjustments on the fly. But this was a great scene to do and I think we pulled it off.

I also spent a lot of time behind the camera recording and lighting the sets. After we would shoot and wrap a set, I would send it over to Julia Deakin (who, I must mention, did a killer job creating an illustrated rendition of our hero Emily) to composite the scenes in After Effects while Yoho Yue would animate and bring our characters to life. We tried to keep things organized and keep the work-flow smooth. I think the team did really well!

As for the Behind the Scenes video… I think we owed it to ourselves, to viewers and to creatives to see how cool the process of creating Emily’s world was. It also demonstrates what we are capable of here at Crush. It shows that we’re process oriented and that we’re meticulous, and it’s important and great for people who work with us to see that.

Camerashot from Emily's Story

The style of the Behind the Scenes video is itself interesting and different, can you say a few words about that?

Jullian: Hmmm…. We just tried to take as much footage as we could while we were actually doing the production. Kyle Steffler did a great job editing the footage to the soundtrack. He did a great job of showing you one part of the finished piece, then scenes of how we put that scene together. To go back to the “season change” example, you can see a bit of the choreography we did for that scene in the Behind the Scenes.

Did you meet with “Emily” and/or her family — do you know if they saw the video, and what their response was?

Jullian: We did not get to meet Emily, unfortunately, in respect of her family’s privacy. But from what I’d heard through our clients, she really LOVED the animation and the story, which we are obviously very happy about. We wanted to do her story justice and I think we accomplished that.

What has been the response to the video in general — did it “work”?

Jullian: In general, the response has been very positive! A few bloggers have written about the campaign and the video continues to spread. I think that the video was successful in that it took the road less traveled and has brought attention to the Children’s Wish Foundation’s cause. The video continues to get views and we’re hoping for a lot more, which will draw peoples’ attention to this cause. In the end, I think we were all very happy with what we produced, and hopefully, people will continue to appreciate it.

You definitely have a lot to be happy about, the piece is great and I think the Behind the Scenes video is cool. Thanks for talking with us Jullian. Congratulations to you and the Crush team!

Jullian: Thanks, I really enjoyed it!

The Making of Emily — Behind the Scenes

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For full credits on the production of the story of Emily and the Behind the Scenes video, have a look here on Crush Inc’s website.

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