"Social norming" an animated video for Stanford students returning to campus

As campuses across the US start to open up, it has become increasingly important for universities to get their students acclimated to what the new normal at the campus will look like. Stanford University wanted to create an animated video aimed at informing returning students about important health and safety practices necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 around campus. They also wanted an engaging video which students would watch till the end and really internalize.

Stanford Student Services approached Frontiers Animation after seeing our work for Stanford Center for Health Education. With school opening in mid-August, they gave us a deadline of just two weeks to coincide with students returning to campus.

The Production Process

With such a short time frame, we wanted to make sure that we had an extremely efficient communication channel in place and ensured that we were constantly engaging with the client while also being mindful of their time and availability. A dedicated producer was assigned to Stanford to ensure timely approvals, communication, and

delivery of the project. Stanford already had a brief. Our script team along with our Creative Director did a deep dive into Stanford’s unique culture and identity. We found that Stanford students colloquially go by “Nerd Nation” and have T-shirts that have images of big geeky glasses.

We wanted to ensure that we incorporated this element of Stanford’s culture in our production. For the visual style, our team looked at various forums that Stanford

Students were active, especially local facebook groups. We found that students at Stanford enjoyed Japanese Anime and our team decided to incorporate the “Chibi” style to ensure that the video would generate interest and resonate with the student body. The style reflected lovable characters with a play on their body proportions. Our aim was to keep the information engaging as well as entertaining for the students our creative team opted for bright earthy colors from the color guide set by Stanford University, giving the design a distinct look as well as being consistent with their branding guide.

In the pre-production phase, our team developed the mood-board which brought together our research on the campus culture with the unique visual style that we had developed. After a meeting and formal approval by the client, a detailed script was created which took concepts from the preliminary brief and made it fun and engaging. We then developed a detailed storyboard for the client to see how the story would work visually. Once approved, the process was moved to fully colored screen designs which showed each keyframe of the video as a series of full-color images so that the client could get a better idea of what the final product would look like. We also auditioned for voice over talent and presented three options to the client for the narrator’s voice.

Using the screen designs developed by the art team, the animation team worked through a staggered animation development process where background, foreground, and character animation was split between the team and supervised by the Creative Director to ensure that it all came together as a cohesive animation. Once the draft was complete, it was shared with the client and after incorporating their feedback, it went through a rigorous quality control process before being edited into a final version, ready for prime time.


Throughout the entire project, Our dedicated production manager was constantly in contact with our client, keeping them engaged, sharing our progress and soliciting their feedback at each stage. This was helpful for Stanford student services as they received changing guidelines from the State, County, and the University throughout the development of the animation. Our process allowed us to be very flexible with these changes without it impacting product development timelines. In the end the client was very happy with the finished product, is excited to work with us in the future, and left a great (and detailed) review for us on Clutch.

“Their work speaks for itself and is beautiful and well thought out, but what makes this company stand out is their passion for the work. They were just as excited to create this project as we were and brought a level of energy and creativity that made the entire project feel fun. They also are extremely customer friendly and accommodating.”

Natalie Thomas

Assistant Dean of Students & Director of Education and Outreach

Stanford University



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