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If you want to stand out in the Christmas advertising market you’re best off to chuck a barrel load of money at CGI or animation.

If you want to stand out in the Christmas advertising market you’re best off to chuck a barrel load of money at CGI or animation. Or at least that’s what seems to be happening lately. The ads even have titles now, like mini films (although also named for hashtags and the number of click throughs that come with them). There’s obviously a reason for this route. Companies are seeing that CGI and animation connects with their customers and gets wider attention. How many people can remember the Debenhams or Boots ads? Sainsbury’s gets the press but possibly just as much for the ad as the controversy. There’s plenty of other pieces out there about the ads, I want to talk here about the craft, the people who work the long days to bring these to life.

Monty The Penguin – John Lewis

First out the blocks this year with a huge hype on social media. It seemed it was trending the day before it was even online. Not here to talk about it’s impact or success, more how it’s been produced.

The penguin and the compositing was all produced by MPC in Soho. The company have Life of Pi, Guardians of the Galaxy and many others in their portfolio so not surprisingly for a company like this it’s hard to fault it. It’s one (enormously difficult and painstaking) thing to get effects looking slick and realistic, the craft and artistry comes when you can add character which this does. Whether you like it or hate it you can’t ignore how clever it is to capture a penguin losing his breath in sheer excitement (1:36). Whoever did that part of the shot is a genius. has a great write up on the process and lengths they went to with this.

Singing Toys – Freeview

New boys on the block Electric Theatre Collective nail it with the CGI. Really nice way to take the Toy Story idea, but with tired old second hand rather than shiny new toys. Also the lighting and the way they combine with the real life shoot is impressive. For me it’s probably not the best advert in that most people will remember the toys but not the product, but I’m sure there are experts that will disagree. I’d love to know more about how this was made, if there is any puppetry involved…if it’s all CGI. Will be doing some digging with friends at ETC to find out .

The Land of Make Believe – Harrods

A brave and different style, and hats off for that. When so many are aiming for photo-realistic CGI Harrods wheel out this stop frame traditional piece which stands it apart. The sequence took 9 weeks to produce by animation studio A + C.

Elements of Bagpuss, Rastamouse, Clangers…in fact the beauty of it is the fact it brings so many memories back the more you watch it. I wasn’t convinced on first watch but the more I look at it the better it becomes. The craft involved here is impressive and the attention to detail in the model making is well worth a look.

More on it on their website here:

Follow The Fairies – Marks & Spencer

Be interested to get other opinion on this, but we’re divided here. Are the effects meant to convey a feeling of old magic in movies, i.e slightly clunky, a little bit of ‘Betwitched’ or are they not quite there. Don’t get me wrong, some of it has real character and life. The hat flying off the head near the end is brilliantly executed, there are just a few moments where you think “She’s on a wire!”.

Again post was by the busy people at MPC.