Crew Filming Animation Storytelling

22 Jul 2021 | BY Karl Pontau

When you’re trying to connect with an audience, clear communication is key. Telling your story in a way that is easily understood can help connect you to a new audience, engage existing clients, or explain complex concepts simply and effectively. It can also help you persuade key decision-makers, as when we produced an animation to help the Firefighter Air Coalition explain the importance of a critical safety system for firefighters in high-rise buildings to the San Jose City Council.

Case Study: Air Replenishment System

In San Jose, California, building codes have required high-rise buildings to include a firefighter air replenishment system (FARS) since 2005. Developers, objecting to the cost of including these systems in their buildings, were lobbying the city council to have the requirement removed, contending that the job of supplying firefighters with breathable air could be accomplished with the use of a fire service elevator instead. The Firefighter Air Coalition, an advocacy group working to promote air management best practices nationwide, needed to explain to the council how FARS provided significant safety and cost advantages to the city and why it should be kept.

The Problem

The Firefighter Air Coalition knew how they wanted to tell their story, but they needed to make it convincing, easy to understand, and quick to digest. Some kind of visual would provide the needed impact, but filming FARS in action in a burning building was clearly not possible. This is where the team at Squash & Stretch Productions came in.

The Solution

Animation is ideal for providing visuals for matters that are difficult to video and that are easier to understand when you can show rather than tell through writing. The challenge of explaining how firefighter air replenishment systems work and why they should be considered essential in high-rise structures was tailor-made for this format. We knew we could create an animation that would demonstrate the system’s necessity to the council.

The script the Firefighter Air Coalition provided laid out the key points we needed to get across. FARS is an air standpipe, similar to a water standpipe that provides access to water to fight fires throughout a building, that allows firefighters to refill the air bottles that provide them breathable air. Each air bottle lasts only 15 to 25 minutes, so a continuous supply of fresh air is critical for keeping firefighters safe and able to continue battling a blaze.

Without FARS, firefighters must rely on spare air bottles that have to be hauled up the stairs by hand, by firefighters wearing heavy equipment, which is slow and ineffective. Elevators can’t be relied on as a substitute for FARS, because elevators often don’t work during a fire, and when they do, they can’t go any higher than two levels below any floor where fire is present. Eliminating the FARS requirement in tall buildings would mean more fire personnel would be needed to fight fires, due to the need for more people to haul air bottles, in a time when city budgets weren’t increasing. On the other hand, keeping the requirement would make firefighting safer without increasing city costs.

In working with our client, we focused on creating compelling graphics that clearly demonstrated the advantages of the system in a way that was easy to understand. We provided solutions to their communications challenges, resulting in a two-and-half minute animation that presented their information and refuted the opposing position succinctly and clearly.

The Result

Our clients enjoyed the collaboration process and were delighted with the result. Most importantly, the animation accomplished its purpose. The council ended up ruling in the Firefighter Air Coalition’s favor, voting to keep the requirement for FARS in large buildings.

When you put visuals to a story, you increase understanding and engagement. Our high-quality animations help give substance to abstract concepts and boil complex stories down to their essentials. To find out more about how our services can help you polish your story and achieve your goals, contact us here to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Client Testimonials

They not only stuck with us through some of the project's twists and turns, but also did a stellar job turning over quality work quickly.... Read More

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We engaged Karl to create animation to explain difficult investment concepts in a way people can understand. We were very pleased. The process was easy,... Read More

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I came to Squash and Stretch on behalf of a client who needed to explain the superiority of a new life safety system for firefighters.... Read More

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Debra Hall

Debra Hall Consulting

Working with Karl and his team was fantastic! He managed the production process on his side effectively and was extremely prompt with communication and delivery. Read More

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Owner, Lit Digital Media

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