Drug therapy animation tells an heartwarming story of hope and motherly love

Crafted by animation studio ROOF, this inspiring 3D spot captures a mother-son bond, a journey of vision loss, and a new dawn promised by the new drug therapy Vabysmo.

Wet AMD (age-related macular degeneration) is the leading cause of vision loss among older adults in the United States. It won’t make you go completely blind, but you will likely lose sight in the centre of your vision. This can happen quickly, over a few weeks or months. It’s not pleasant.

So it’s great news that Vabysmo, a promising new drug therapy for people with wet AMD, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the start of the year, giving new hope to millions of Americans.

Award-winning animation studio ROOF
recently teamed up with Grey Health to create a touching 3D-animated short film for Vabysmo, and it’s a real winner.

A mother’s story

This charming animated story of mother and son told from the child’s point of view, explores how our vision is cared for, literally and metaphorically. It juxtaposes the mother’s gradual vision loss with her son’s journey from infancy to becoming a retina specialist.

The film shows the integration of patients, their loved ones, and doctors coming together in the community to care for each other’s vision using Vabysmo.

Titled ‘A Beautiful Sight’, it begins from the perspective of a baby boy in a crib, gazing into his mother’s smiling eyes. A series of vignettes unfold, capturing the loving bond between mother and son through time.

From first steps, bedtime stories and learning to ride a bike to the teenage years, playing baseball and learning to drive, their bond grows stronger. With her son grown up and off to college, their separation is bittersweet.

We then fast forward to the mother’s senior years, and the film concludes with a shot of her sitting in a patient room. The point of view shifts to a blurry image of the mother’s son, now a retina specialist treating her for vision loss.

The heartwarming film was launched in honour of Mother’s Day. Directed by Guto Terni, Vinicius Costa, and Lucas Camargo of ROOF, it features music from composer Joel P West, known for his work on the Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

How it was made

The film builds on the team’s experience in heartfelt storytelling driven by epic, stylised 3D characters and worlds. Telling the story of a 40-year time gap, innovative facial mapping technology enhanced the 3D characters’ features for emotional readability. The film also features detailed, vibrant environments – from seeing your mother for the very first time to ultimately becoming her doctor – improving visible accessibility along the way.

The campaign was inspired by the real-life story of California-based retinal specialist Dr. Nathan Steinle, who travels back to his hometown in South Dakota every few months to care for his mother and other patients with Vabysmo.

The key to this story was creating an emotional journey wherein the audience could live it alongside the boy and momentarily forget that even a camera is involved.

Concept artwork

“We used the camera as an extension of his sight, moving it with the natural dynamics of human vision,” says Guto. “His ‘eye blinks’ served as a natural transition between scenes, while the focus shifts and head movements mimic the precise way humans look around.

“All in all, this visual concept deepened the feeling of connection we aimed to establish in the story and, ultimately, illuminated how the mother nurtured her son’s imagination and aspirations – from a firsthand perspective.”

Pulling focus on the mother’s own journey, ROOF leveraged groundbreaking facial motion capture technology to achieve the emotional depth required for the story. To ensure the mother’s expressions felt genuine and humanly relatable, they cast an actor for the mocap sessions and brought them to life in their 3D model with striking detail.

“Emotion drives this story, and our facial capture technique helped amplify the mother’s complex sentimental journey spanning love, pride and nostalgia, with impact and unprecedented realism,” explains Vinicius. “This story is intended for adults, so it was critical to humanise the CGI character development by showcasing their imperfections through close-up shots and textures that tacitly evolve.”

Narrative moments

Covering the lifespan of a character was quite a challenge during the concept phase. “We didn’t have much time to develop these studies,” says Lucas, “so we needed to nail an entry point that established a baseline for the quintessential, huggable, warm mom figure.

“We then imagined the character in the various required situations and designed her assertively to fit those narrative moments with appropriate wardrobe and hair solutions. Our goal was to narrow the path of concepts while still generating a rich and diverse range.”

Clay modelling

Breathing feelings and life into the film through the character animations of the mother, ROOF masterfully depicted her ageing process, emphasising her natural features, such as her skin and hair, with nuance.

ROOF extended this concept to the CGI details exhibited in the mother’s wardrobe. They conducted historical research on styles through the years, imagining what her character might wear from one decade to the next.

From the frayed edges of her denim overalls to the lint on her knit sweater to the various eyeglasses she dons as time passes, the details are painstakingly textural, period-specific, and bursting with earthy colours.

“Every project comes with its own challenges, whether related to technique, costs, or schedule,” says Vinicius. “It is crucial to have a smooth production process in place to overcome these potential challenges when they arise.

“Achieving such a high level of detail is only possible when the production and agency work in harmony, sharing the same desire to effectively communicate the intended message to viewers and evoke an emotional response. In this case, one that encourages people to take a moment in their busy lives to think about their mothers.”

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