The challenge instantly piqued my interest. This was for two reasons. First off, stirring music seems to be part and parcel of ads about agencies and products that have to do with family, children etc. This made me wonder how the sentimental value of family and adoption could be brought out with purely images. The second reason was, in a way, the answer to the question asked. Although attitudes around the world are changing, it is still a commonly held opinion that deafness (along with many other, manageable disabilities) is an insurmountable obstacle. However, with modern technology and advancements, it is really only something that needs some measure of accommodation from time to time. A few adjustments and an engrossing class in sign language is all parents would really need to get started. So how to show this in 30 seconds? That too, without an appropriately treacly song?
Here I thought of my own family and the experiences that stuck out from childhood. Many of them had nothing to do with hearing. In fact, the first and most vivid ones were to do with touch, smell, taste, sight. And that’s when the idea of amplifying experiences with the other senses came to me. Now, this turned out to be similar to the example in the book, but very different in its ultimate message. The intent of the ad I created was to show how easy it would be to bring a deaf child into one’s family and how wonderful life can be in a family. This required creating happy family moments that many people could relate to. Therefore, the phrase “There is nothing (more) [insert adjective/verb] than… a [noun]” was used e.g. “There is nothing prettier than… a smile.” This phrase would have accompanying images to go with the phrase itself. In the case of the “a smile,” caption, it was a picture of a mother and daughter smiling in a close-up shot. This continued for moments such as family meals, campfires, soft blankets, or simply smelling flowers. This was all figured out relatively quickly, since most of these things are so common as to be readily available when family and a certain sense is thought of in relation to them. The last phrase, “Nothing simpler than a gesture” was meant to encourage future parents to consider sign language and adopting a child who may need to use it.
After this came the decision as to what canvas/design process would be used. Here, Austin Kleon’s wisdom proved useful. The Analog side of the office was instrumental here, with the Digital only being used to find and print the right pictures for the project. After this, it was a mix of chart paper, sharpies, color pencils and glue, all the way to the finish line! Since the chart paper offered a clean and large canvas, it was uniquely suited to storyboarding such a short ad. It can be a bit disorienting to turn a page midway through imagining something, so having all 9 frames numbered and placed on one space was ideal in the case of pitching this idea. This project also called for creating a design that could be used for other media, such as billboards and print. Therefore, I decided to include that in how the frames were designed. In the ad, there will be a fade-in style, with the text at the top appearing first, then the video of the topic and then the final word that links to it. In a billboard, the text will be there with just a picture, like the ones seen on the chart. This would work for print as well. All this was made much easier given how dynamic the page made the work. Whereas my abilities where graphics are concerned are very, very limited, anytime text needed to be moved around, or something needed to be brought together, I was able to do so with ease on the paper. This was something Mr. Kleon refers to in the book as well, with paper creating more possibilities and opportunities to play around with ideas.
Putting the right information in the descriptions for each frame also proved difficult, since specific details were needed initially. This all fed into the idea of how much detail is needed for even the simplest design to come together. Which leads me to the final idea, which was a logo and name for the adoption agency. I chose the name ‘HeartSign’, since the logo was four hands making the universal symbol for a heart. The logo was from a picture found online, while the color scheme and heart symbol on the outsides of the hands was done by me. Though an attempt was made to draw the hands myself, it failed spectacularly, so the printed picture with a new color and design became the final logo. The reason I chose to use the heart symbol and not a sign from American Sign Language (ASL) was that it was more inclusive if it weren’t purely ASL. For anyone who couldn’t use American Sign Language, the heart would be evident as a sign of love and compassion. The second to last frame also had a written version of the ASL words being shown by the hands in the ad. Universality was also channeled into the pictures used, since they include several races, with the final photo being of a diverse family. This was to show that family is a concept we are all a part of, and maybe inspire someone who may not have considered adopting, or adopting a child of color, to do so. Having felt the effects of identifying with a person on the screen myself, it was imperative in reaching as many people as possible.
This also fed into some of the considerations where language and inclusion were concerned. For instance, after doing some research, it turned out that the deaf community preferred the term ‘deaf’ to describe them and not ‘hearing impaired’. This was surprising to me, as ‘hearing impaired’ was a term I had been using for a long time, thinking that it was preferred. It was definitely a little embarrassing to think of any mistakes made in that regard, but also an illuminating look into how the deaf community views and represents itself. The use of diverse families was also important (although it was very difficult finding the results I needed for ‘mixed religion’ or LGBTQ+ families- Google isn’t always prepared, it seems!) Overall the results were good and could be expanded upon in the TV spot itself, since actors would have to be hired, allowing more control over the individuals in any given group.
Overall, this project proved much more difficult and intricate than I had imagined. However, it taught me a lot about how to use an Analog canvas and create a cohesive narrative from what was just a small idea. Hopefully, this blog post taught the readers a few things about how to create an interesting storyboard using Analog design concepts and tools (I’ll always swear by color pencils and glue!) and the detail that goes into even a 30-second TV spot without any sound. Most of all, I hope it got across my message of how love and family are universal, and can be created with all types of people, making us richer for having known them.