NACWA-50 Years of Clean Water Success | LAI Video

50 Years of Clean Water Success

We partnered with the National Association of Clean Water Agencies to celebrate their organization’s 50th anniversary in style. Leaving behind the talking-head-filled commemorative video format, we set out with NACWA on a journey to breathe new life into the history of America’s clean water agencies, using beautiful and decidedly fluid animation.

An Anniversary, Come Hell or Clean Water

With a big milestone on the horizon, NACWA was searching for a bold way to celebrate their members’ story – one that would resonate with both industry insiders and members of the general public. To accomplish it, we steered away from the usual interview-heavy retrospective and pitched an evocatively scripted and robustly animated dive into the story of NACWA. The goal: to cruise swiftly and seamlessly from the origins of the clean water movement, through the evolution of NACWA’s mission and membership, to the present day and their ongoing commitment to providing clean water for all. At once unconventional and ambitious, creating such an immersive retelling of a half-century’s history required an equally creative plan – one project leads Susy, Tiffany had to quickly adapt as COVID-19 upended our usual workflow just as we started animation.

In the end, the NACWA’s decision to take a bold animated approach was also the quarantine-proof decision, as our team was able to finalize design, animation, and sound safely from home with plenty of time to spare ahead of NACWA’s 50th-anniversary commemoration event.

Ode to an Industry

NACWA loved the idea of telling the story of clean water management at a sweeping poetic pace, one that focuses more on the big picture impacts of their member’s work and less on every historical, technical and regulatory detail.  Tiffany, Sarah, and Justin collaborated on drafting a script that glides effortlessly through the key moments of NACWA’s story. The final story contextualizes history’s ups and downs against a compelling constant: NACWA’s commitment to supporting local water agencies as they help communities reclaim watersheds and revitalize local waterways. The piece strikes a balance between showing and telling, blending the technical “how” with the more emotional “why” behind the work of America’s clean water industry.

Fluid Design: Form Fits Function

To bring the story to life, creative director Tiffany sought to create a distinctive look that would heighten the sense of movement and energy in every video frame. To do it, we moved away from the hard outlines of our typical 2D vector animation and instead used contrast in color to create an illusion of depth and dimension. In dramatic moments, like the scene depicting the infamous Cuyahoga River fire, subtle cell shading and rich color gradients deliver even more cinematic punch. Rob animated the video, providing the fluid motion that breathes life into characters and guides viewers seamlessly through NACWA’s fifty-year history in a short but stunning three-minute video.