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the STUDIO Teams Up With amfAR, Bridging Art and Science To Rally Donations for a Possible CURE for AIDS

New York animation studio creates multi-platform five-film series unveiled at 2016 World AIDS Day Forum

the STUDIO Teams Up With amfAR, Bridging Art and Science To Rally Donations for a Possible CURE for AIDS

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, has teamed up with the STUDIO to launch a multi-platform series of films for the HIV CURE Summit in San Francisco on World AIDS Day.

Kevin Frost, amfAR President, unveiled them this December 1st. The five films create a single piece of communication that speaks to multiple audiences; donors, educators, policy-makers, advocators, and the scientific community.

The collaboration between amfAR and the STUDIO began this year when the STUDIO created a widely acclaimed short film for amfAR’s Galas. The partnership with amfAR continues the STUDIO’s commitment to purpose-driven work that compels audiences to engage in social impact. 

AIDS prevention and awareness initiatives have always been a part of the company’s history. Mary Nittolo, Founder of the STUDIO, comments: “The opportunity to be involved in a project where a CURE (Charting, Understanding, Recording and Eliminating) is a possibility was an enormous privilege and opportunity. We’re honoured to be a part of bringing that message – which is a paradigm shift from prevention and treatment to CURE – to a wider audience. 

“Scientific and healthcare communications are often cold and clinical. They can feel synthetic, dark, and alien. We wanted to opt for something inspirational that offers hope and gives notice to a momentous medical breakthrough that is finally within our reach. At the same time, the science needed to be accurately communicated to a variety of audiences from scientific and medical to academic and donor communities. We needed to depict the science proposed to cure AIDS in a human way that was both artful and visually engaging.” 

David Grad, EP/Head of Integrated Production at the STUDIO, comments: “The challenge was translating complex scientific language into a compelling narrative. With beautiful imagery we simplified highly technical information into something that could be clearly understood by even non-medically trained audiences.”

the STUDIO stylised and simplified the visual language of cellular structures by adding textures and soft edges. Based on research found in a Siggraph white paper, CG lead Eric Kilanski adapted a technique utilising sub-frame motion blur to cells that were created in Maya.

Each frame was designed to look like a painting. Nittolo comments: “Very fortunately, the amfAR brand gradients gave the rich palette that we needed to create a visual language that spoke to both disease and hope.” The team also utilised a variety of different fluid and dynamic simulations and other post-production techniques to create the organic feel of living cells inside the body. The final output required over 10,000 rendering hours in V-Ray. 

the STUDIO partnered with partnered with Hook+Line to create a score that compliments the emotion and gravitas that should accompany the promise of a cure.

Nittolo adds: “AmfAR was an incredible client. Their research team, Rowena Johnston and Marcella Flores were enormously patient and generous in educating us about the complex science. Kevin Robert Frost, AnnMari Shannahan and Andrew McInnes took an incredible leap of faith trusting our visual approach which was quite different from the traditional scientific communications pieces they originally referenced.”

The films were first presented at the 2016 World AIDS Day Forum on December 1st 2016. 

Commenting on the reception to the films, Nittolo says: "After screening the videos at the HIV CURE Summit for an auditorium full of researchers and scientists, AnnMari Shannahan called to let us know they were collectively astonished by the unique beauty of the animation and our ability to accurately represent the science."

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Advertiser: amfAR

Producer: David Grad (Head of Integrated Production)

Creative Agency

Creative Agency: the STUDIO

Production Company

Production Company: the STUDIO

Executive Producer: David Grad

Director: Mary Nittolo

Producer: Tao Garcia

Post Production / VFX

Post Production Company: the STUDIO (Eric Kilanski: Lead Post Production)

Colourist: Eric Kilanski

2D : Alison Abitbol (style), John Holmes and Mike Ocasio (story)


Music Agency: Hook + Line

Category: Corporate and social , Health

Genre: Animation , Visual VFX