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Computer-generated child helps spotlight kids in crisis

UNICEF Sweden finds a creative way to put a face to a worldwide emergency -- morph images of children in crisis into one virtual girl named Sofia.

Sofia: One face representing many.

UNICEF Sweden

Meet Sofia. She is 7 years old and standing in a rubber boat with water up to her knees. She is cold and afraid.

Only she isn't real. She's computer-generated and animated in 3D.

UNICEF Sweden created Sofia from images of 500 real children facing emergencies around the world. Places like Ethiopia, Ukraine and Fiji. The hyper-realistic girl appears in a new video in which she talks about running from men with guns, being forced to leave school, escaping in a boat.

The goal of the video is to raise awareness of the many children worldwide in peril, and funds to help them, by focusing on one very human (by way of CGI) face.

"We have created Sofia to give a face to all the children that aren't visible to us," said Per Westberg, fundraising manager at UNICEF Sweden. "Close to 250 million children live in disaster struck areas and most of these disasters get no attention."

It's highly conceptual, but an important message. About half of the 19.5 million registered global refugees are children, according to the charity Save the Children.

Creative agency Edelman Deportivo, the force behind a number of other innovative digital campaigns, used the tool Face Research to morph 500 faces into one. Production company Pixel Grinder, whose founders developed 3D effects for "Avatar," "Planet of the Apes" and "TinTin," helped bring Sofia to life.

Sofia has a hashtag, #ForSofia, and she will even tell her story in a Stockholm art gallery, Galleri Duerr, next week. And while Sweden does have a Princess Sofia, that's not where CGI Sofia got her name. Sophia ranked as the top baby name for girls last year, a standing that reinforces UNICEF's Sofia-is-every-child message.