NEW YORK CITY — While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a real struggle for humans, the lockdown is having a positive effect on nature and wildlife, as both skies and bodies of water are becoming cleaner across the globe. A new PSA reminds people of their power to influence nature, and features the CG character Oliver the Otter, who encourages viewers to keep Mother Nature happy.
Raft Animation Studios (https://raftanimation.com) created iOtter Clean Up, which takes a light-hearted approach with its timely message. The project premiered on Instagram and was created in partnership with the global nonprofit organization Oceana, which is dedicated solely to ocean conservation.
The PSA runs roughly :80 and features Oliver, who speaks directly to the camera, taking pauses to float and submerge himself in the now-cleaner water.
In the early stages of production, Alkemy-X partnered with the Raft creative team to visualize the initial concept of the PSA. The video is driven by actor Phil Buckman’s energetic voiceover. The music, with its original ukulele instrumental, was composed and performed by John Osborne, of the Southern Rock band Brothers Osborne.
Christopher Jenkins, formerly an animator for Disney Feature Animation during the '90s, wrote and directed the project, which was produced by Michaela Hart. Hart is an animation veteran who has built and revitalized CG and animation departments for top studios, including Nickelodeon, Universal, Netflix and MTV.
Raft partner/executive producer/head of talent Rachelle Lewis put together a team of animators, including production house Lagoon Black Studios, to execute the idea. She also spearheaded putting together a remote animation production pipeline that would allow the team to collaborate as if it were an in-person/studio effort.
Lagoon Black, owned and operated by brothers Larry & Darrell Vasquez, is a full service production company that led the collaboration of artists from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Larry served as an animator on the project and spent many hours making Oliver’s coat furry and the ocean sparkle. The studio used Autodesk Maya, Foundry’s Modo and V-Ray to complete the job.