Each day nine people are killed by distracted driving in the U.S., and their life stories are abruptly cut. The families of the victims are left wondering what could have been were it not for such senseless tragedies. To honor some of the people who lost their lives that way Travelers Insurance and TBWA/Chiat/Day N.Y. worked closely with families to bring their loved ones’ unfinished stories to life, imagining the future that would have played out for them.
LOBO was invited to add a new chapter to this series, titled “The Tree House”. It imagines the unfinished story of Howard Stein, a teacher who was killed by a distracted driver months away from retiring. Howard loved woodworking, and planned on spending a lot of time in his wood shop and being a full-time grandpa to his soon-to-be-born granddaughter Evie. If it hadn’t been for a driver who got distracted by her GPS and drove off the road, Howard would get to build amazing things for Evie in his wood shop, and perhaps pass down his love of woodworking to her.
This spirit of craft and handiwork influenced LOBO’s choices for the animated portion of the film, which aims to “complete” Howard’s unfinished story. Director Guilherme Marcondes wanted it to have a handmade, artisanal feel, resembling a stop-motion film made with wooden puppets. The production team achieved this by creating the settings as scale models in studio, adding to it CG-animated characters rendered with a woodcraft-like finish. The camera moves were performed with a robotic motion control system, which allowed the CG and film footage to be seamlessly integrated.