Case StudySustainability Workshop Series

The world’s cities, buildings and products are designed using Autodesk’s software. So when we set out to teach designers how to create more sustainably, we knew the potential for change was enormous. Together we created the Sustainability Workshop series to accelerate the movement for smart design.

It was day three and Drew Beam was holding back the tears. He had been drawing as fast as he could, on camera, ten hours at a time. His body ached. His eyes wavered. But it was all so worth it. He was Mr. Imagination, the silent star of a video series that would teach architects, engineers and designers step-by-step how to build our world more sustainably.

While Drew scribbled furiously in the background, the other stars of the show, design gurus Dawn Danby and Jeremy Faludi, pored over the script a final time with the Free Range writing team. Over the past several months, we had worked with the show’s hosts and Autodesk’s Adam Menter to transform advanced physics and chemistry into story-based entertainment. Truth be told, we didn’t understand half the content when the project began. By the time we were done, the scripts were rock solid on the science and simple enough for a high-schooler to understand.

Autodesk — makers of software like AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit and Maya, which build the world around us — used the video series as the centerpiece of their Sustainability Workshop. Designers from all over the world now use the Workshop to streamline their designs, select greener materials and create products that consume less energy. In 2011 the project reached the finals of the Index awards, Europe’s $100,000 design prize.

Reflecting on our work together, Autodesk’s Menter said: “Free Range’s powerful blend of expertise in storytelling, sustainability, illustration and animation, branding, video production, and graphic design really brought the material to life. Their attention to detail is amazing and they approach projects with a playful, but serious and thoughtful, attitude that is a breath of fresh air in corporate work.

Details Sustainability Workshop Series

Sustainability Workshop Series

The video series had to be produced on a breakneck timeline, so we developed a style that relied only lightly on special effects and heavily on the talents of our on-camera stars. To write the scripts, our team had to become semi-fluent in the science of industrial design — an entirely new and exciting challenge.

Screenshots from the final series of videos

The Illustration

The Illustration

Free Range artists Drew Beam and Ruben DeLuna planned out hundreds of illustrations before the shoot to turn difficult scientific concepts into graspable works of art.

The Production

The Production

A clever mix of in-studio and green screen allowed the show hosts to present the ideas while Mr. Imagination drew in the background at lightning speed and performed feats of magic, manipulating the drawings with a wave of his hand or a pinch of his fingers. Visit Autodesk’s Sustainability Workshop to check out the final video series.

Stills from the Video Series
Stills from the Video Series
Drew Beam

“Working on Autodesk was like climbing the Matterhorn in flip flops without any mountaineering training. It was filled with crazy challenges and firsts, and I ate it all up. I <3 you Autodesk.”

Drew Beam Creative Director Profile

“Directing this video series provided a unique set of challenges. Luckily, our on-screen talent brought their "A" game.”

Erica Priggen

“What better way to change the world than from the inside out? This is one way to make serious impact by designing a more sustainable world, being smart about materials, process and the big picture!”

Erica Priggen Executive Producer Profile
Drew Beam Erica Priggen