Digit Drives School Bus for PBS

“School Bus” is a 70-second story about a young boy’s extraordinary journey – first to the southern most side of the globe, then to an uplifting moment in history, on to the Broadway stage and finally into the far reaches of our solar system – fueled by compelling content offered exclusively on PBS. “School Bus” was brought to life by a uniquely talented group that includes Elias Merhige of Independent Media, visual effects studio Digit, and acclaimed DP Januz Kaminski.

The spot extends PBS’ award-winning “Be more” brand campaign. “Be more” illustrates how PBS invites all Americans, from every walk of life, to explore new ideas and new worlds, and broaden personal horizons by experiencing PBS content.

Working closely with director Merhige and the creative team at PBS, Digit applied a wide spectrum of techniques to illustrate the kind of journey people can take when they watch PBS, in this case represented by a young boy’s eye-opening bus ride that transports him from one exciting realm to another. Among the effects are an all-CG Mars landscape, a complex series of multilayered reflections on the school bus windows, and a historic Wright Brothers flight sequence featuring the child hero and Big Bird.

Initially, production called for the use of actual Wright Flyer footage, but it was not readily available in HD, so the Digit team referenced the original source material to produce an entirely CG re-creation, including age scratches and fade to match. For on-set VFX supervision, Digit turned to Joe Bauer, the VFX supervisor on Get Smart.

“We worked together on the feature and trusted Joe would insure a seamless transition from production to the digital process,” says Digit Executive Producer Scott Siegal. “He was a great addition to the team and the project.”

Due to PBS’ production deadlines, Digit worked around the clock to complete the numerous effects and digital treatments in just under three weeks.

“Digit infused our concept for this boy’s amazing journey with tremendous ingenuity to bring ‘School Bus’ to life,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, PBS Brand Management and Promotion. “They collaborated with us to create a spot that captures the spirit of the PBS experience, which offers everyone – equally – the opportunity to be transported and transformed by our content.”

About PBS

PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans – from every walk of life – the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each week, PBS reaches more than 65 million people and invites them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and Web site, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. Explore more of what PBS has to offer at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet. CONTACT: Jennifer Daddura, 703.739.5233, [email protected]

Credits for PBS “School Bus”

Client: PBS (Public Broadcasting Service)
Lesli Rotenberg: Sr. VP, Brand Management and Promotion
Judy Braune: VP, Brand Management and Promotion
Kelly Chmielewski: Director, Corporate Brand
Sylvia Prickett: Director, Operations and Production
Jared Traver: Producer
John Ruppenthal: Sr. Director, Creative Services
Derrick Chamlee: Creative Director
Jeffrey Hughes: Associate Creative Director

Production Company: Independent Media, Inc.
Elias Merhige: Director
Susanne Preissler: Executive Producer
Leslie Evers: Head of Production
Janusz Kaminski: DP
Simon Barrett: Line Producer

Visual Effects: Digit
Elad Offer: Creative Director
Scott Siegal: Executive Producer
Joe Bauer: VFX Supervisor
Maya Bello-Korenwasser and Raphael Mosley: Flame Artists
Phil Broste: Shake Compositor
Yuji Yagasaki: Lead CG Artist
Mike Fisher: CG Artist
Diana Welles: Roto Artist
Dark Hoffman: Digitial Matte Painter

Editorial: Film Core
Executive Producer: Scott Friske
Producer: Amburr Dilday
Editor: Livio Sanchez

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