How Can We Help Tom is a series of short animated videos Stanford Medicine's EdTech created Dr Anna Lembke's pain management curriculum for undergraduate medical students. Our creative brief was to revamp Dr Lembke's lecture series to include a memorable recurring character and style -- but we only had one week. In response we created the character "Tom Vignetti." Tom is a crash-dummy or Kenny-from-Southpark style character who constantly gets addicted, and treated, for addiction.

The assignment became to create three vignettes with Tom in just one week. This constraint led to a new direction for the team's design choices which produced a novel set of animations in a very short amount of time. In response, the director, William Bottini, went for an intentionally lo-fi pastiche style artistic direction. The videos run as photo-romans in a MS Paint style. Sometimes the illustrations are drawn directly on photographs, both because it's quick and stylistically funny.
Above: illustrations from the videos.

The shorts were written by William Bottini in collaboration with Dr Lembke. They follow Tom as he gets addicted to alcohol to cope with the stress of medical school, gets treated, turns to cigarettes at AA meetings, gets treated, gets addicted to opioids following back surgery, gets treated, and so on.

Below: work-in-progress. The initial sketch of Tom as a retired pilot, and script revisions in process.
Above: Dr Lembke's initial attempt at introducing a recurring character into her lectures (left) and our project, completed in a week.

Below you can watch the two other vignettes we produced for this weeklong project. Credit to Jessica Whittenmore for performing the voice, and Andrew Baek for sound design.

Stills used for the shorts are from Breaking Bad and The Royal Tennenbaums.

More Projects

Back to Top