‘Imaginary Friends Society’

A character-driven 3D tale of hope for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

Project by ROOF
3D / CGI / Animation / Character

“We teamed with RPA and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation to uncover smiles in a time of worry and distress in the original animation short “What is an MRI?,” as a means to educate pediatric cancer patients on an MRI procedure in an entertaining way. The short is part of a 20 film series that features a fictional group of characters coined the Imaginary Friend Society, created by RPA, that helps educate kids on cancer treatments in a way that’s engaging and easy to understand.”

Director: Guto Terni

“Seeing these kids, it just broke your heart. And it was kind of a shock that there wasn’t anything that really explained [their situation] in a way that a kid might want to engage with, or get anything out of.” 

Jason Sperling, chief of creative development at RPA

ROOF’s animation was part of a wider campaign consisting of 20 animations addressing various topics and questions such as “Being Scared,” “Chemotherapy,” “Feeling Angry,” “Losing Your Hair,” “Why Am I Tired All the Time?”. Each video takes the same approach and uses friendly characters to engage with young patients.

What made you want to join the project?
For the Imaginary Friends Society project created by RPA for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, the idea was to create a series of animated short films to explain to kids what is happening with them with cancer diagnosis and treatment.  We accepted right away to be part of the project,  we felt that the idea was really smart and appropriate, playing with their imagination through a really imaginative world we could access and open a channel of communication to approach really hard subjects in a much more delicate and profound way. As a result we could bring some comfort and ease to their lives.

How much of the creative came from the agency and how much did ROOF add to the initial brief?
We were one of the first companies to be invited for the project and we had a chance to read the scripts. Based on the terrific quality of each script it was easy to understand the impact the project could have. RPA had created an informative way to tell the story at the same time with an ingenious and powerful sense of humor.

What’s important to you when taking on a project like this? 
We chose to do the “What is an MRI” story because we felt Charlie and Roger had potential to be really strong characters and there was an opportunity to explore the acting of them in a really complex way making the communication powerful through that. We felt that bringing realism to the story not only on the way the characters are communicating but also on the whole visual of the film we could make the imaginative become real.

By doing this, we could have another level of connection between kids and the characters. You can see that easily in the art direction and render of the film. If you look at each object in the scene, each one has a special texture treatment.  Additionally the light creates a warm atmosphere everything ends up feeling really tactile. It allowed the kids to get completely immersed on the film closing the gap between what the patients are seeing and what they will experience in real life.

How does it sit within your wider body of work?
It was was a true passion project for me (Guto Terni) and all the team at Roof. We could really print our style- an impressive cgi, very colorful, very whimsical and above all the satisfaction to user our craft to make a special and extremely meaningful project.

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