Suffering a brain injury can have drastic effects on a person’s well-being, sense of self and social interactions. Brainstreams.ca provides an outlet for survivors and their loved ones, offering education, support and encouragement to help in navigating the difficult process of recovery. This project received a VFS Impact Award for Public Enlightenment in 2012.
Our class at VFS was approached by the NPO Brainstreams.ca. The client needed to increase awareness and share survivor stories, as well as make the website more functional and easier to navigate. Our group consisted of 10 students divided into two teams – motion and interactive. I was a part of the motion team, but the two teams met frequently. We worked together to understand the client’s needs, strengthen the brand identity and develop an overarching theme. Simple organization, navigation and storytelling mechanisms were to be used throughout the re-designed website to ensure that all the new content we generated would be properly laid out and easy to understand. This was Brainstreams.ca’s second partnership with VFS – a previous Digital Design class had created a successful infographic motion piece and marketing campaign, which focused on prevention through education. We decided that in order to complement their work rather than trying to compete with it, we should focus our efforts mainly on documentary filmmaking.
We set our goals extremely high, aiming for a large number of interviews with a variety of people
. These individuals ranged from survivors of brain injury
due to accidents, strokes and even medical malpractice (all in different stages of recovery) to caretakers, doctors, physiotherapists, and coordinators of charitable associations
. We were extremely fortunate to be invited to a roundtable focus group event put on by the Acquired Brain Injury program at a Vancouver Coastal Health
Center location. Here we listened to survivors’ stories about how they had acquired their injuries and the struggles associated with the aftermath. I personally gained an entirely new perspective thanks to these strong individuals
and left the meeting feeling inspired and invested in the project like I had never felt before.
We interviewed over 10 people at 3 different locations and set about color-correcting/editing the footage into short clips to be shown on the Brainstreams.ca website and YouTube channel. We also illustrated and animated two infographic pieces to introduce the new sections of the website. For these infographics, I composed original music to be played in the background and stepped in as voice-over talent. Independently, I began working on an animated bumper for the client. One short version would be attached to the end of new Brainstreams.ca video content, serving as a bookend tying all the videos together. A longer version was developed as a potential stand-alone TV spot. I animated the newly designed logo and created custom sound design to add to the personality of the brand, switching back and forth between the two disciplines to synchronize the animation to the sound.
We were invited to present our work onstage at the 2012 Pacific Coast Brain Injury Conference, a gathering of over 1,000 people involved with brain injury in different capacities. We compiled everything we had done, including the website mockups completed by the interactive team, into a promotional video that portrayed the services offered and core values of Brainstreams.ca with a focus on the incredible stories shared by our interviewees. We spoke at length about our process and received an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience after showing our completed work. Many people approached us wanting to know more, and we utilized the conference as an opportunity to set up our cameras, lights and sound equipment one more time, getting additional interviews from another dozen people (as varied a group as the last) as the conference continued on in the background.
All in all, as a team we successfully delivered one of VFS Digital Design’s most expansive projects of the year, achieving a completed scope that no one believed we could. The project was extremely rewarding, and I will never forget the experience, my amazing team or the incredible stories shared by survivors along the way.