Advertising, Web, TV

StoryCorps: An Inspiring Journey

We Don't Mouse Around


In conjunction with StoryCorps and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, we animated spouses Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter Phinney as they talk about their shared careers as professional cyclists and advocates for Parkinson’s. Connie won a gold medal at the 1984 games and a dozen U.S. national championships. Before she was a cyclist, Connie was a speed skater and participated in the 1972 Olympics at the age of 14.

Davis was one of the most prolific cyclists in the country. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 40. He and Connie have been advocates for people with Parkinson’s for the past 20 years. 

Check out the finished video here!

Art Direction:

StoryCorps has a very specific aesthetic — hand crafted and simple. Those ideas apply to both the visuals and the accompanying text. And text, it turns out, is critically important to these videos. Every spoken word needs to be seen on screen.

Now when StoryCorps first approached us about animating this piece, they had already created dozens of other videos with different vendors. And while they loved all of that work, they wanted to explore new approaches on how to achieve that hand crafted feel. We here at Pipsqueak Animation love exploring new art directions and we immediately came up with a handful of ideas. Some of these were our own spin on existing styles and others were fairly radical departures. Here are a few style frames we came up with — from super simple to more sophisticated.

StoryCorps really liked style “G” but we realized that no existing font would work for their aesthetic. Instead, we decided to use a simple font as a layout guide — where should the text would go and what size it should be? We then hand drew over each letter to give the text an organic feel.

Truth be told, we originally did 3 drawovers for each letter because we were planning on adding life to the text animation via “squiggle vision.” Thankfully, everyone realized before the end of the project, that shaky letters in a piece about someone with Parkinson’s could be taken the wrong way. Removing the animated text was the right call.


Once we had our art style chosen, we did a quick boarding and animatic pass. Our goal was to board things as simply as possible and then create as much motion — character, object, camera, text — as the schedule and budget allowed. But the goal was to keep things simple so that the viewer could become engrossed in Davis and Connie’s story.

Here’s our animatic.

Have a story you need to bring to life? Give us a holler! Our costs can fit your budget.