Illumina is the leader of genomic sequencing, pioneering technology to help solve humanity’s most complex problems. For their first ever brand film we wanted to avoid the traditional hype film so prevalent in the worlds of tech. Instead, we set out to capture the soul of the company and pursued deeper truths through fluid animated visuals that lead the audience on a journey from dream to reality.
An abstract Story
Author Arthur C. Clarke once said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” To us, Illumina was that.
It was the beginning of summer. The LA days were long and hot. Then, like a breeze, a brief wafted through the door—a brief full of excellent writing, exciting gifs, and beautiful gradients—telling the story of a brand who wants nothing less than to change the world. Our collective eyebrows raise.
The Story of the Genome
We embarked on a journey to reimagine storytelling for such a complex topic, a story that would appeal to scientists and laypeople alike. A story to inspire the next generation of researchers to focus on this life-saving field aiming to find a cure for any kind of cancer—the same field that brought us the COVID-19 vaccine in record time. Now we’re excited.
Genomes tell a story beneath the surface. Like screenplays, they hold the potential and possibilities to be captured. And, like a good script, they are a starting point. We needed to go deeper to express their ultimate potential.
The Bio-Tech Film Reinvented
To capture the soul of Illumina, we wanted to avoid the traditional hype film so prevalent in the worlds of tech. Instead, we pursued deeper truths through fluid animated visuals that lead the audience on a journey from dream to reality.
The Look & Feel
Inspired by a conversation between the analog and the digital—the human and the computer—we employed a mixed media approach that unites the elegant fluidity of keyframe animation and the luxe feel of cg, creating a unique, slightly tangible visual language inspired by cinematic illumination.
Our task was to craft visuals that are abstract in their form but not their meaning. They should entice and engage viewers through their fluid motion, wondrous transitions, and unexpected moments in a story that touches the heart.
The goal was not to decide on the “how” but to understand the “why.” Each shot was a puzzle to solve, leading to the biggest question: how do we connect it all? A small yet fierce team of designers and animators helped bring each of these aspects to life. Combining techniques in 2D, 2.5D and 3D design and animation, each shot was a world in and of itself.
Narrative & Flow
The spoken word and the visuals became a dance—where one supports and never overpowers the other. Word and image flow as one to underscore the complexities and benefits of genome sequencing.
Breaking our story into chapters echoing the sequencing process, we pulled viewers along a journey fueled by dynamic tension between the elegant and energetic, linked by fluid transitions both logical and magical.
We’ve approached this film the same way we approach our best work — with the goal of making everyone who didn’t work on it furiously jealous. It’s rare, however, to make a film that stands out. A film which leaves you with optimism and really good questions.
Associate Creative Director
Lead 3D Animator
2D Animation Lead
Executive Design Director
Executive Creative Director
Matthew Jacob McFerrin
Director of Photography
Head of Production