Since having settled on creating something comedic, Matt brought up the topic of old American Public Safety Announcements which we were then able to relate back to the Fallout series that was mentioned in an earlier post.
The first public safety announcements appeared in 1938 in the UK and USA, just before the second world war. The announcements were used to create an awareness of a social issue and to change public attitudes and behaviour towards the issue. Typically they would portray a bumbling character who was slightly stupider than the average person, this character would then be used to explain the message of the announcement by demonstrating the consequences of ignoring the issue.
Typically the issue in question would be regarding the health and safety of the public, examples of PSA videos being, How to cross the road properly, preventing the spread of disease, how to swim, the dangers of obesity and compulsive gambling. During the war the UK and the US began using Public safety announcements to influence their population on topics regarding the country’s needs, eg. American’s investing their savings in government bonds.
Dangers of Obesity:
Looking back at these videos we can see just how much society has changed in the last 60 years, how most announcements created were used to influence members of the public and just how wrong those views were.
Boy’s Beware: Commissioned by the Inglewood police department in 1961, if they were to replace the word homosexual with pedophile it might make a bit more sense. This PSA warns young boys of the dangers of the ‘mentally ill homosexual’, using Jimmy to show the consequences of the issue – even by being the victim Jimmy still found himself in prison.
Duck and Cover: A civil defence social guidance film, screened in January 1952 after the Soviet Union had began nuclear testing and the Korean War had started. The short shows school children what they should do if they see the flash of an atomic bomb, covering the basic survival techniques for a nuclear war.
The short received some criticism as some people thought that it was a scare tactic used by the American government to make children afraid of the Soviet Union and communism. However scientific research has shown that being indoor and or ‘ducking and covering’ can provide some benefits, it can protect from the initial blast and also the following radioactive fallout
A word to the wives (1955): Produced by the American Gas Association. This public safety announcement was trying to encourage the american public to add gas appliances to their kitchens and gas clothes dryers to their laundry rooms by showing the consequences of not getting gas appliances fitted.
Do’s and dont’s of dating: Another style of Psa video we could look at recreating by showing the do’s and dont’s of the scenario/topic that we may choose to cover.
Coronet Films (Coronet Instructional Media Inc.) was a leading producer and distributor of American documentary shorts, from the 1940’s through to the 1980’s. The shorts were shown in public schools and covered a range of topics including zoology, science and geography but today Coronet Films are mainly remembered for their post WWII social guidance films on dating, family life, courtesy and citizenship.
Today’s viewer may find these shorts ridiculously corny but the producers genuinely wanted to reach out to young people and provide some helpful guidelines for the rising generation in relation to socialising and reaching their potential – in 1945 the average fifteen year old had known nothing but the great depression and WWII since their birth. the films showed the benefits of responsible, clean living for the individual and the nation. These were the first films to depict life from a teenagers point of view, they begin with a young person facing a dilemma, as the short progresses the character learns something new about himself and along with a bit of self analysis manages to turn the situation around in his favour – the films showed character development as opposed to being strictly one dimensional.
Social Courtesy Etiquette (1951): This short offers helpful information regarding social graces. The video is driven by the narrator who sets ‘sour-puss’ Bill on the right track after being invited to a party. Bill’s character develops from believing that social courtesy is old fashioned to exclaiming that “social courtesy does pay!”
Fallout: What makes you Special? is a series of animated public safety announcements featuring the vault boy character who is the mascot of Vault-tec: a corporation who appear in advertisements and training videos within the fallout universe. In the fallout games vault boy is used to provide a representation of stats (traits/skills) and items available to players and their avatars.
The fallout public safety announcements use vault boy to describe what essential attribute would be needed to survive the environment after a nuclear holocaust: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck.
We really admire the comedy of the special shorts, especially the unexpected nature and results of some of the scenarios…
The animation of the character is another aspect that stood out, his movements are similar to the styles of Max Fleischer and Tex Avery: where characters could defy gravity, they could stretch, separate their limbs…
Just like a typical public safety announcement Fallout demonstrates the consequences of ignoring the issue at hand, in this case not using your ability correctly and the narrator giving the character another attempt. I really like the idea of having a narrator interacting with our main character, as a group it’s something we have discussed and would be interesting in trying – it would involve creating a script which none of us have attempted before.
The Fallout shorts also reflect the physical appearance of a public safety announcement by mimicking the black and white style, the aspect ratio and by recreating the appearance of dust, scratches and the flickering picture. These are all typical aspects of a public safety announcement and are details we would be interested in recreating within our own short, we do admire the 2D style of fallout, the hand drawn characters and backgrounds – this is something we may look into creating with 3D models through using toon shaders, possibly in maya or cinema 4D.
Some of the old PSA videos eg. Duck and Cover could almost be mistaken for a spoof, it’s as though they were being deliberately wrong/ exaggerating to to get a laugh. Again this brought us back to the death in space and dead moon walking shorts, we thought something with the random humour of these shorts combined with the style of the PSA and fallout videos (including the narrator) could be interesting…
We’ve managed to settle on a rough idea of style, our next couple of steps will be to decide the exact style we want to create, our storyline and the characters including the world they live in.