Studio Birthplace’s new animation raises awareness around the impact of plastic bottle pollution

After the success of its campaign for Greenpeace with Wasteminster, the latest release is equally as impactful and uses CG technology to visualise plastic pollution in real time.

14 June 2021


Premiering today is the pilot for Humanity’s Impact, a film conceived by Studio Birthplace that aims to raise awareness around the global production of plastic bottles. After the success of its previous film Wasteminster for Greenpeace – a campaign that saw Downing Street and Boris Johnson flooded with the UK’s daily export of plastic waste – the following film is equally as impactful and asks the question: “Did you know that globally, we produce about one million plastic bottles per minute? What does that number even look like?”

Humanity's Impact is set in a 1960s American suburb (giving a firm nod to The Sims) and is abound with plastic text dummies, where 20,000 bottles are released per second during the film. The “suburban paradise”, says the studio in the statement, is quickly filled with bottles and aims to present the “terrifying scale and rate” at which the world consumes and pollutes the planet; only 9% of plastic bottles are recycled, while the remainder gets burned or littered in the ocean or landfills. “The film aims to create an eye-opening experience to bring a new level of awareness that a number or statistic alone could never achieve,” says Studio Birthplace directors Sil van der Woerd and Jorik Dozy. “Understanding humanity’s impact on our planet is the first step towards change.”

Before Wasteminster was released, Studio Birthplace devised the pilot for Humanity’s Impact – the “first episode”, as stated by the studio. Made with Dutch Cultural Grant, it visualises how many plastic bottles are produced globally in real time; it’s also accompanied by an augmented reality app, titled Humanity’s Impact, that lets users play with data on a more personal level. Both films have been created in collaboration with CG partners Method & Madness, with executive producer Wenhao Tan and director Alex Scollay using bespoke data visualisation technology to create realistic scenes of plastic falling using Tyflow software. The team also devised a custom virtual reality camera rig, allowing an Oculus Rift VR headset to be mounted to equipment so that the directors could hand-operate the camera.


Studio Birthplace: Humanity's Impact (Copyright © Studio Birthplace, 2021)

“The biggest challenge in addressing the production brief for this film was to ensure we were able to transport viewers into the action so that they would leave feeling ‘humanity’s impact’ in a simple yet powerful way,” says Wenhao in the announcement. “We developed new ways of using CG technology (the method) that enabled us to bring the film to life in a non-clinical way, retaining the creativity of the campaign idea (the madness).”

The film is both educational and entertaining, employing comedic film techniques to make the serious topic of pollution easier to digest. “We believe that comedy can be a powerful tool to help tell some of the saddest stories in our world,” says the studio’s directors Sil and Jorik. “It can allow for an easy way in which the audience make it easier to call out the ugly side of our consumer culture. We created mannequin-like dummies that not only represent us but that also put up a mirror to us. It is easier to make fun of a plastic dummy rather than a real human, after all, it’s only a dummy.”

Along with the film, Studio Birthplace has attached a call to action from Plastic Pollution Coalition, encouraging its audience to back a petition that tells Coca Cola to stop making plastic bottles. Head here to sign the petition.

GalleryStudio Birthplace: Humanity's Impact (Copyright © Studio Birthplace, 2021)

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Studio Birthplace: Humanity's Impact (Copyright © Studio Birthplace, 2021)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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