Case Study: Educational Animated Videos for American Bird Conservancy


American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a nonprofit that advocates for birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. They work to prevent the extinction of endangered birds, conserve important bird habitats, reduce top threats to birds, and build an Americas-wide community of bird conservationists. ABC reached out to our team in need of two videos with motion graphics animation to educate the public and legislators on the findings in their recent report on the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides, also known as neonics, on North American birds.

American Bird Conservancy

Creating Scripts & Storyboards

ABC wanted one of the videos geared towards the public and the other more specialized for a legislative audience. Their vision was for both videos to be top-level educational pieces that would point interested viewers toward the insecticide report and include live footage and animated illustrations to support this information. Our Design and Video teams worked together on a script and storyboard for both videos, using stills from ABC’s existing footage and some stock footage. The videos needed to stay around the 30-second mark but include a fair bit of information, so we supplemented the scripts with some on-screen text.

Still from ABC video: Title slide with American Bird Conservancy logo
Still from ABC video: Neonicotinoids contributed to 3 billion birds lost in North America
Still from ABC video: Neonics Are Used On: Seeds, Crops, Lawns, Gardens, Golf Courses, and More
Still from ABC video: Symptoms Include: Loss of Motor Control
Still from ABC video: Additional Solutions: Demonstration of Need Before Use, Clarify FIFRA to Include Pesticide-Coated Seeds, Increased Funding for Pesticide Regulation
Still from ABC video: Learn More at abcbirds.org/2023NeonicReport

Developing a Style & Illustrations

Since these videos were educational in nature, a few primary sources of visual inspiration for our Design team were scientific flash cards and anatomical diagrams like you’d find in a science textbook. We organized the supplementary text on-screen on flash card-like shapes, and we created an anatomical illustration of a bluejay to start the section of the video that details the physical effects of neonics on birds. We also included silhouette illustrations of birds to accompany these effects, highlighting how big of an issue neonics are for birds in North America.

Inspiration images for ABC videos, including bird flashcards and anatomical illustrations

Some images from our mood board

Symptoms Include: Convulsions, Inability to Navigate, Loss of Motor Control, Life-Threatening Weight Loss, Extreme Fatigue, Death. Accompanied by illustrations of bird silhouettes
Rotating image switches between an illustrated bluejay and an anatomical illustration
Additional Solutions: Demonstration of Need Before Use, Clarify FIFRA to Include Pesticide-Coated Seeds, Increased Funding for Pesticide Regulation

Choosing Voiceover Actors, Audio, and Stock Footage

It was essential to ABC that these videos feel urgent since the effects of neonics on birds are so severe. While the information itself is already grave, we worked to mirror this sense of urgency with voiceover actors who could give a serious, pressing tone to the scripts and background music that had just a bit of an alarming feel. We also worked with ABC to ensure that the stock footage and illustrations we used in these videos all included birds native to North America.

The Final Videos

The final pieces combined the voiceovers, on-screen text, footage, illustrations, and background audio into two compelling educational videos. We were honored to be able to contribute in a small way to ABC’s work to end the harmful use of neonicotinoid insecticides in North America!

Public-Facing Video

Legislative-Facing Video

From the Client

Online Optimism successfully completed all the project’s milestones — storyboards, scripts, voiceover recordings, drafts, and final videos. The team was prompt, efficient, flexible, and highly responsive to changes. Moreover, their work ethic, professionalism, and engagement were excellent.

American Bird Conservancy logo
Hardy Kern
Director of Government Relations
American Bird Conservancy (ABC)
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