‘The Rail Revolution’: Our BCRRE Film

Image of a script and storyboard for the Decarbonisation video

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The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) are advocating for the decarbonisation of rail amidst the rise in global temperatures. BCRRE came to Creative Media with the aim of promoting the University’s research on hybrid hydrogen trains.

There are several problems with rail infrastructure in Africa, with electrified cables often being stolen and battery power being unsustainable, so a hybrid approach is the solution. The research project explores cost-effective traction solutions for sustainable railway futures in Sub-Saharan African low-income countries. The project was implemented by the University and funded by UKAid via the High Volume Transport Programme, managed by DT Global.

So, what’s the best way to tell the story of the decarbonisation of rail?

The brief

BCRRE’s target audience was policy makers and leaders in the rail industry, rather than the public. They were keen to tell their story with a video project, especially one with 3D animation elements.

BCRRE also presented us with a working script, with the caveat that it was mostly written in technical terms and could do with some assistance from our in-house copywriter.

The story

We understood that BCRRE’s project offered some exciting opportunities for video; while some academic projects are highly theoretical, hybrid trains are tangible and visually striking. Practicalities meant we weren’t permitted to film on location, but we were able to pull out archival footage of the tracks and seamlessly turned it into quality content.

One challenge was how to show the 3D animation alongside the video footage. Simply cutting between animation to traditional footage would be jarring for viewers. During our concept and ideation stage, we devised a storyboard wherein the video progressed from a line-drawing, to a 2D vector, to blueprint-style footage, to a 3D wireframe and then to video. This approach solved two problems: it allowed for a gradual transition from animation to video, and it borrowed the ‘visual language’ of tech (of blueprints, line drawings and wireframes) to lend credence to the project.

BCRRE were keen for Creative Media’s in-house copywriter, Jack, to shape their draft script. Whilst maintaining the key arguments of the piece, Jack worked to elevate the tone of the script from technical to inspirational for a conference audience. He also provided a voice-over for an animatic (a rough, storyboard draft of the video) for the client to see the project’s progress.


BCRRE’s Decarbonisation video taught us a lot – and not just on the topic of hybrid rail! Our experiment with transitions (from blueprint to final product) during the concept stage proved a huge success and helped us elevate the project.

With its highly technical nature, the script called for the use of infographics and statistics. In a ‘video game style’, we used an overlay graphic to feature this material alongside the main video. This was one of the many elements of the project praised by BCRRE.

“Creative Media was fantastic in helping us produce a video output for our research project. They were engaged, and highly professional, transforming technical content into an engaging and inspiring short video that has reached over 40 countries now.”

Marcelo Blumenfeld, Mechanical Engineering
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