Pete's Story

Daniel Bruson
Daniel Bruson
Alex Ostrowski
Daniel Bruson
Ally Carter
Andrew Hunter
Erik Righetti
2+ Team Members
D.S.H. 8 J.S. 9 V.M.H. 9 A.M. 9.5 GMUNK 8 B.R. 9.9 N.L. 8.5 P.T. 9.5 J.M. 9 HOUSE 9.4 Creative 9 D.S.H. 8 J.S. 9.5 V.M.H. 9 A.M. 9.7 GMUNK 8 B.R. 9.8 N.L. 9.5 P.T. 8.9 J.M. 9 HOUSE 8.9 Design 9 D.S.H. 9 J.S. 9 V.M.H. 9 A.M. 9.7 GMUNK 9 B.R. 9.9 N.L. 9.7 P.T. 9.1 J.M. 9 HOUSE 9.5 Craft 9.3 D.S.H. 8.3 J.S. 9.2 V.M.H. 9 A.M. 9.6 GMUNK 8.3 B.R. 9.9 N.L. 9.2 P.T. 9.2 J.M. 9 HOUSE 9.3 Total 9.1
Pete's Story is a true account of what it's like to grow up as a victim of child abuse, communicating a mixture of fear, confusion and anxiety experienced by Pete at the hands of his abusive mother.
The Concept

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) commissioned Lovers to create a 90-120 seconds animation based on Pete’s true account about his mother’s abuse during his childhood in the UK, and at the same time communicate indirectly the importance of NSPCC, showing Childline as a service that could have helped him.

The idea was to tell the story in a dramatic, potent and visually striking way, and at the same time to highlight, as the story unfolds, certain “touchpoints” using the NSPCC’s brand colour (green), such as phones or outdoor adverts, through which Pete could have accessed the service. It was important to approach the story using subtle and indirect visuals rather than showing violence head-on.

The Production

Based on interview transcriptions with Pete, whose name was changed for anonymity, Lovers' Creative Director Alex Ostrowski wrote the script. After the voice over was recorded, a rough storyboard was created by Animation Director Daniel Bruson, together with Lovers. NSPCC would consult the real “Pete” from time to time, making sure he felt comfortable with everything.

After that, the animatics were created frame by frame digitally, then printed on regular A4 sheet (in yellow ink, the easiest color to extract later in post production). All frames were then painted with a very watery acrylic ink, almost as a watercolour. Daniel painted sixty to seventy frames a day, trying to maintain a fluidity from one to the next, making the shapes look at the same time sufficiently defined so they could be recognised, and undefined so they could produce an unstable, emotional and ephemeral effect.

The painted frames were then positioned by the punch holes and photographed inside a simple white box that turned the camera flash into an even ambient light. In post production, some curves, color and luminance modifiers and texture overlays were used to achieve this color palette and the final look. Meanwhile Sound Designer Dan Pugsley worked with Lovers to communicate the story sonically, building upon the animation’s visceral texture.

Preliminary sketches
Storyboard pages
Flash animation
Composition: color correcting the photographed frames
Painting process
Painting process
Painting process

The whole production took five months and was really intense, even from an emotional point of view. To think about this horrifying story, to ask questions such as: how could this thing happen? What does that do to a child? Without first hand experience in our lives, we knew we had to be respectful but bold, and let some of those feelings find their way through the piece. What made it possible was a will to talk about such delicate matter, and an amazing mutual trust, energy and support throughout the process.

Pete's Story won a Wood Pencil at D&AD Awards 2015, is a Vimeo Staff Pick and was featured on Stash 115 with an extensive interview.

Making of Video
Alex Ostrowski Writer & Creative Director
Daniel Bruson Animation Director, Lead Animator, Painter & Compositing
Ally Carter Producer
Andrew Hunter Executive Producer
Erik Righetti Assistant Animator
Talita Annunciato General Assistant
Daniel Pugsley Sound Design
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