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ITaP gets animated over cybersecurity training

A lovelorn guitarist sings about the danger of giving his password to a girlfriend in the first of a series of animated cybersecurity-awareness advertisements produced by ITaP’s Video and Multimedia Production Services.
Photo: Rob Hart, ITaP Video and Multimedia Production Services

Sharing is the bedrock of any healthy romance, but drawing the line when it comes to passwords is wise, too. It’s also smart to sidestep suspicious characters trying to infiltrate your inbox and stir up trouble. And when visiting social networking sites online, you never know who's lookin' at you, kid.

ITaP’s Video and Multimedia Production Services group has reinforced these serious messages in a trio of lighthearted, animated cybersecurity-training advertisements created for SecurePurdue — a major initiative focused on improving the security of data and information technology on all Purdue campuses.

Currently, the ads are airing on Boiler TV and available for viewing online via the SecurePurdue website or through Purdue’s YouTube channel.

“These aren’t like a lot of other videos for government agencies or universities doing public-service announcements about security,” says Rob Hart, a producer and director with ITaP Video and Multimedia Production Services, who conceived and created the ad spots. “We wanted to go for something colorful, relatively concise and attention-getting to drive home a message that would be easy to remember.”

The first spot, promoting password protection, features a guitarist lamenting the loss of his privacy after he shared passwords with a vindictive ex-girlfriend. Encouraging the use of spam filters, the second animation shows a pair of sketchy emails trying to sneak past a spam guard into a nightclub called Inbox. The most recent spot, concerning social-networking privacy settings, envisions "Casablanca" had Rick and Ilsa's ill-fated tale played out in cyberspace.

A pair of sketchy emails are shocked when they’re denied entry to a nightclub called Inbox in the second of a series of animated cybersecurity-awareness advertisements produced by ITaP’s Video and Multimedia Production Services.
Photo: Rob Hart, ITaP Video and Multimedia Production Services

The spots feature colorful, angular animation and snappy humor of the visual and verbal variety, but the project wasn’t initially envisioned that way.

Conceived to coincide with Purdue’s 2009 observance of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the videos originally were designed as live-action productions. But, amid time and scheduling constraints, Hart redesigned the ideas into animation, for which he used Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects.

“That’s why they have that 2D-animated look,” says Hart, whose inspiration for the look and feel of the animation came from illustrator Josh “Shag” Agle. “We scanned the storyboards (for the original live-action plan) into the computer, designed characters from scratch and animated them. A lot of people thought we used Flash for that, but everything’s on a separate layer, including hand and lip movement. A lot of preparation went into designing all of that, but I enjoy drawing, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Cherry Delaney, security outreach and awareness coordinator for ITaP Networks and Security, offered praise for Hart’s approach and the results.

“They have an ageless, universal appeal — G-rated messages while everyone knows what they’re referring to,” Delaney says. “It’s a simple message in a medium that people might remember in the nanoseconds before clicking on something dangerous. The video group has been great. They are easy to work with, and they have a lot of original ideas to take our message and make it fun and engaging.”

The narrative arc for an animated advertisement about password protection is shown in storyboard format — a guiding template used by ITaP’s Video and Multimedia Production Services group to create the final version.
Photo: Rob Hart, ITaP Video and Multimedia Production Services

The password-protection spot won a 2010 Bronze Telly Award — which honors work created both for television and the Web.

“When you work in a video department, people think of you as being able to only do straight video,” Hart says. “This is a different side of what we can offer and what we can do. It’s a labor of love.”

ITaP’s Video and Multimedia Production Services (VMPS) is Purdue University’s central video-production unit.

VMPS projects range from event recording to award-winning documentaries and promotional videos. The group also offers both a full-service production facility capable of full 1080p high-definition video and the campus’s only broadcast television studio.

The VMPS team has 50 years of combined experience in video and multimedia production — some with broadcast backgrounds, others with film. Three team members have won multiple awards for their work. Additionally, one team member is an adjunct faculty member at Purdue, and another is a frequent guest lecturer in video and computer-graphics classes.

To schedule your next video project, contact Edward Dunn by phone at 49-41043 or email.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=p5iz7cRR2UQ

 

Writer: Nick Rogers, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), (765) 496-8204, rogersn@purdue.edu

Sources: Rob Hart, producer/director, ITaP Video and Multimedia Production Services, (765) 496-2684, rmhart@purdue.edu

                Cherry Delaney, security outreach and awareness coordinator, ITaP Networks and Security, (765) 496-1288, cdelaney@purdue.edu

                Edward Dunn, manager, ITaP Video and Multimedia Production Services, (765) 494-1043, dunn@purdue.edu

 Last updated: Aug. 17, 2010