Where the Buffalo Roam's heart-warming 'Being Human Is' series for Android launched yesterday on YouTube and social channels
Creative production company Where the Buffalo Roam (WTBR) recently produced an animated docuseries called 'Being Human Is', presented by Android. Directed by Nico Carbonaro and Tuesday McGowan, the five-episode series tells the inspiring stories of real people from all over the world who have realised their long-held passions in unexpected ways, and how Android has uniquely helped each of them in making their dreams come true. 'Being Human Is' launched here yesterday on YouTube, and is also launching on social channels.
“This campaign puts an exciting twist on both branded content and documentary storytelling,” remarked Nico. “I like to call them documentary fables, as each film has a magical storybook feel yet is rooted in real people and their own words and experiences. For ‘Being Human Is,’ we weren’t just telling these remarkable stories, we were doing it in a way that could never be done in live action.”
Immersing viewers into the sensory experience of a Deaf hockey player, 'On Silent Ice' tells the story of Anthony Rumolo and his mission to advance the sport for athletes like him through the Ontario Deaf Hockey Association.
In 'Na Cor', Brazilian art teacher Mariluce Maria Souza inspires local children to paint their experience of home and share them with the throngs of tourists who visit Rio's largest favela each year.
'Ramblin’ Man” profiles Josh Pearson, a blues artist who refuses to let his blindness hold him back from writing music and performing for audiences across the USA.
'The Magic Makers' is a feel-good story about a small-town Nigerian kid turned rising star, Raymond Yusuff – the mastermind behind a crafty smartphone filmmaking collective that took the internet by storm.
In 'Chez Elyse', we learn how chef Elyse Bezuidenhout unexpectedly lost most of her eyesight overnight and the five-year journey to regain her sense of self that followed as she mastered her craft and passion in the kitchen on a newfound level.
Combining Nico’s expertise in documentary filmmaking with Tuesday’s design and animation prowess, WTBR embarked on the project with a vision to create larger-than-life documentary stories with an animated aesthetic that celebrated the heroes as they see themselves. To achieve this, they turned to an unexpected yet fitting source of inspiration: journalism. With a focus on nuanced human stories, similar to radio shows like 'This American Life', the team worked with acclaimed radio producers to sculpt each episode in audio format, which informed every creative decision moving forward.
Equally inspired by the classic illustration styles of The New Yorker and the New York Times, WTBR hired renowned editorial illustrators from the world of print journalism to bring each story to life. In the process, they deployed a mash-up of illustration styles and animation techniques - from digital and hand-drawn assets to 2D, 3D, and cel animation.
“These films needed to be rich, evocative, and resonate from the heart, so authenticity played a big role in developing the visual style of each film,” said Tuesday. “We had to stay mindful that we were dealing with real people and respect the sanctity of who they are. We were fearless in our approach, embracing abstraction, symbolism, metaphor, and non-linear storytelling to create fantastical animations that bridge nonfiction and magic realism.”
WTBR brought on a team of composers and sound designers, led by Space Lute’s JR Narrows, to dimensionalise each story with nuanced soundscapes. This included an original composition performed by a 53-piece orchestra in Budapest. WTBR also conceived the branding and naming of 'Being Human Is', including the opening title sequence, which is customised to each title with visual and sonic 'easter eggs' to introduce each participant’s unique story.
Produced during the pandemic, 'Being Human Is' pooled together hundreds of artists and creative companies across four continents and seven timezones.
“While we had to adapt to a completely new way of creating and collaborating during the pandemic, we shared a lot of love and camaraderie rallying around this project for six months of our lives,” said Nico. “At the same time, the remote nature of this project afforded us to bring together talent from around the world; moreover, being isolated created a sense of autonomy for all of the artists involved, which led to everyone bringing their best work forward. We all fed off of each other’s ideas and instincts as the creative just kept evolving organically and for the better.”
“We’re grateful that the Android team entrusted us to realise the vision for this docuseries and honour these amazing personal stories with a fresh approach to branded content and filmmaking,” concludes Tim Pries, WTBR co-founder / executive producer. “Thankfully, we had a creative Voltron to pull it off.”
Producers: Jen Szeto (“On Silent Ice”); Dennis Samatulski (“Chez Elyse”)
Animation Company: Giant Ant/Vancouver, BC (“Na Cor“)
Executive Producer: Teresa Toews
Executive Creative Director: Jay Grandin
Producer: Cory Philpott
Animation Company: Meister/Portland, OR (“Ramblin’ Man”)
Executive Producer/Producer: Samantha Cook
Creative Director: CJ Cook
Animation Company: Where the Buffalo Roam/Oakland, CA (“The Magic Makers”)
Executive Producer: Tim Pries
Producer: Taraneh Golozar
Post Producer: Michael Schultz
Coordinator: Eden Cooney
Illustration: Oddfellows / Portland, OR (“On Silent Ice”); Tracy J Lee / San Francisco, CA (“Na Cor”); Keith Negley/Bellingham, WA (“Ramblin’ Man”); Leonard Dupond/Lille, France (“The Magic Makers”); Emiliano Ponzi/Milan, Italy (“Chez Elyse”)