Case Study

Surface Force Strategy: Distributed Lethality



The United States Navy required an exciting and creative three minute film that could explain the future of their information dominance. The concept of Distributed Lethality is one that needed a compelling and articulate piece of marketing to explain properly. Ten Stories was tasked with conveying the importance of a technologically elite Navy force that can control all aspects of a warfighting scenario.

A project as intricate as this required consideration for many aspects including produced footage, 3D animated sequences, visual effects, motion graphics, narrative scripting, and musical treatment. Ten Stories also had a strict schedule to maintain as the project would need to be completed in three months.


Surface Force Strategy Film


Phase 1: Pre-production

With the Navy's Draft Treatment in hand, we had a relatively clear map that helped us identify creative needs. From the inception of the project, we made sure to communicate and collaborate with our client as often as possible. In conjunction with their guidance, Ten Stories performed our own research of Navy and military vessels, specific terminology and how their technologies work. After feeling confident in our knowledge of the subject, we began scripting and visualizing with storyboards.

A script was written in audio/visual format to ensure that anyone reading could intuitively follow its structure. After refining the script through revision cycles with the Navy, we received approval and were able to start generating a storyboard. This project would be one of Ten Stories' most intensive and given how much of the film's content was gong to be produced from scratch, it was absolutely crucial that all stakeholders could visualize the film's intended direction.


Getting approval on storyboards and visualizations helped propel us toward completing the final taskss leading into production. Selecting film locations, casting, production design, scheduling and all detail-oriented preparatory tasks were tackled and solidified before moving on to the next and arguably most exciting phase.

Ten Stories has extensive experience incorporating feedback from multi-tier stakeholders. Ten Stories will collaborate with the Government’s advisers to insure that the proper terminology and future technology is in place, as well as intended look and feel.


Phase 2: Production

The production team at Ten Stories consists of a multidisciplinary group of creatives. With over a hundred years of combined on-set experience, we were not only ready for this project logistically, but experientially as well. The U.S. Navy benefited from working with a production team that could be as disciplined and prepared as they were.

We filmed across four shoot days both at military locations and in the studios at Ten Stories. We have ample space at our offices with two stages; one chroma green cyclorama perfect for compositing and a second plain studio space that can be configured to look like any number of indoor scenes. Both stages are good for audio recording and made Ten Stories a viable space for this production. The project's "enemy command center" was portrayed as a war-ready bunker filled with comms and workstations, but in actuality was an elaborate set of our own making.

Due to the nature of our work with the U.S. Navy, it was important they collaborate with and guide us as much as possible. Nearly every scene needed to be realistic in its portrayal of crew, vessels and language. To ensure we could remain on the same page, we shared a live project calendar with our client so they were privy to the latest directions and revisions. We also had representatives present whenever possible to maintain the accuracy of our creative vision.


Phase 3:  Post-production

Putting everything together in the post production phase is where the creative elements start mingling with the tangible results of the production phase. All the shots which needed to be created from scratch via CGI animation were at this stage capable of being implemented, but only after thorough editing to be certain of the film's structural foundation.  Computer rendered animation was a huge part of this project. Ten Stories' project Art Director worked hand-in-hand with our 3D Generalist to create beautifully realistic renderings that complimented the video's look and fell.

A number of other post-production elements were used including motion graphics and visual effects that served to enhance the live-action sequences. Though it's often one of the last things we apply in this stage, audio never takes a back seat to the visual presentation, so we made sure to apply rigorous sound editing and mixing along with a custom composed musical score that punctuated the entire piece.


Surface Force Strategy Trailer


The U.S. Navy desired more than a deliverable video, they wanted a package of sorts and one that would help them distribute and present this conceptual film to the chain of command. We designed and physically produced movie posters and DVD covers that added a sheen of completion and helped to encapsulate the project. We've found that designing and producing a movie poster is the perfect way to commemorate the hard work of those who contributed to the project.



  • Premiered at Surface Navy Association (SNA) National Symposium 2017

  • 40,000 views and counting on the US Navy YouTube page