For a recent project with architectural firm HOK and Barnes-Jewish Hospital (BJC), StoryTrack was tasked with communicating the architect’s vision for BJC’s campus renewal project in St. Louis to the hospital’s Board of Directors, physicians, staff, patients and families. We knew we couldn’t rely solely on text and images to convey how dramatic these improvements to the hospital would be—and how they would be worth the dust and disturbance a major renovation would cause. To persuade the audience that this campus renewal was truly essential, we’d need to tell its story. And, the best way to do that is with video and 3D rendering. Video allows us to embed pragmatic details into a visual narrative of hope, innovation, and achievement. The 3d renderings demonstrate how the proposed renovation would keep BJC on the cutting edge of medicine.

With just under four weeks to complete the project, we started interviewing people right away. We began with the key stakeholders—the hospital administration, the advisory board, physicians, and staff. But, we also spoke with patients and their families. We wanted to hear from everyone. We talked to a lot of people. Each speaker contributed a unique vantage point. An OBGYN described the benefits of relocating the pediatrics close to labor & delivery. Patients discussed how room redesign would make their experience safer and more pleasant. Executive staff raved about how green space additions would speed recovery. Their collective enthusiasm was palpable, and it created a passionate framework for our film’s narrative.

We also worked closely with a stellar architectural firm, HOK, to create twelve high-resolution architectural renders of the campus’ proposed redesign. The building renders were created in Cinema 4D, to produce photorealistic results and a seamless integration of the proposed new construction within the site’s existing architecture. Cinema 4D was designed for use with film production—we can easily go from aerial footage to street-level renders without a hitch.

For the architectural renders, we used several types of image acquisition to create the photorealism—still images, aerial footage and drone footage. Aerial shots produce dramatic, sweeping images that situate the campus in the landscape and in the city as a whole. Drone footage, on the other hand, allows us to capture shots where helicopters and people cannot go. Drones enable us to get those impossible angles and incredible detail shots that the renderer can turn into pure magic. The renders were added to the film in After Effects, allowing text and movement to bring them to life.

The final component—the one which really solidifies the tone of the narrative—is the music. Music is the undercurrent of the story; it works on a subconscious level to reinforce the tone of the interviews, add depth to the images, and connote elements of the story that neither image nor language can capture. For this project, we looked for pieces that were inspiring, upbeat, and emotive. We needed something that would suggest the ideals of collaboration and hope but also achievement and efficiency. We decided on a piece with a moderate pace, staccato elements, and a bell-like quality. It suggested things in motion, but the instrument’s soft tone captured that inspirational aspect we were after.

Because flexible distribution is essential, the film and all other deliverables were created for sharing across a variety of platforms—from web to mobile to social media. The still images were perfect for use in collateral material, such as email blasts and status reports. The film could be as easily viewed by doctors as their patients and families, who enjoyed seeing their input on the project in action.

About the Author

Lori Dowd

Lori Dowd is an award-winning filmmaker and founder of StoryTrack Studio. For over 20 years, she has directed and produced programming for a range of corporate, non-profit, online and broadcast partner/client.