Deaf Thunder - the launch of BSL 999

The project

Sign Health were looking to launch the new 999 BSL app with a bang. Working with a number of deaf schools, they put out a competition for a new Deaf Superhero. The winning design was to be made into a costume and feature in the new ad for the app.
With just under a month until the launch, nrg were asked to develop a creative that could demonstrate the app and launch the new superhero.

The project approach

Working with a tight timeline and a tight budget we were tasked with bringing a marvel sized spectacular to the small screen.

To be cost effective in the approach we decided to use a combination of live action and animation to create our comic book story.

We wrote a script and then created a storyboard. We planned out which shots would be live action, and which would be in the comic book style. Using the drawn comic book effect we could pull off scenes that would have cost hundreds of thousands to create to tell a bigger story.

We were able to show our superhero flying, have a scene in a school with lots of other people and also show a high speed ambulance chase all through the lenses of a comic book which worked really well for the genre and style of the piece.

We had just a single day of filming to capture the live action elements where we worked with Sign Health to cast Deaf Actors for the roles. We worked with interpreters and a BSL sign language monitor to ensure we captured every part of the script as accurately as possible.

We were also working with a young actor (aged 10) so we were limited to how long we could film for which meant having to move economically around the different filming locations.

To give the film a ‘Marvel’ look and feel, we used an Arri Mini cinema camera and anamorphic lenses to achieve the movie image quality that you can see in the film.

We also used our in-house Jib to create a crane shot to reveal the superhero costume in the big transformation scene and a slider to give the cinematic movement to the scenes.

Watch the full film below:

The project outcome

The BSL 999 film was launched on the 17th June at a number of launch events held around the UK. Nadia, our leading actor, even appeared at a number of the events dressed as Deaf Thunder to help promote the launch alongside having it’s online release.

The launch parties were encouraged to post first reactions and the film went down a storm!

Deaf Thunder also won the Silver Award at the Digital Impact Awards in 2022.

Our efforts helped get 999 BSL featured on Sky News and BBC Breakfast, the top of the BT tower, in The Times and Lauren Ridloff shared Deaf Thunder!
Thanks again to Sherice and everyone on the team, it's fantastic.


Communications and Digital Content Manager, SignHealth

Watch the Behind the Scenes film below: