The creative innovation behind John Lewis' Christmas ad

by steven schwartzLeave a Comment

When someone invents a new technique for storytelling, we all win. When you watch the fascinating behind-the-scenes video of this advertisement for a British retailer that appeared in CreativeReview, you'll see how Elliot Dear innovated a combination of 2D animation and 3D sets that makes for a unique and beautiful look.

Of course, hiring one of Disney's most famous animators, working with a world-class set design team, an accomplished British director, and having $1 million dollars in the budget didn't hurt either.

The Bear & The Hare

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Elliot Dear's innovative combination

The finished ad is an innovative combination of 2D stop motion drawings shot on a 3D set, a process that Dear initially explored as a student, and also in some of the music videos he has created that were shown to the agency as part of the pitch (see more of Dear’s work here). “I remembered something that I was doing when I was a student,” he explains, “which was to do illustrations, cut them out and place them in front of the camera and make these almost pantomime-y sets with them. Photograph them and then you get lens effects and focal depth and lens flares and things, but they’ve still got an illustrative quality.”

The Bear & The Hare_johnDAVIScanonCAMERA

Photographs showing the front and back of drawings used in the shoot

Photographs showing the Canon DSLR used in animation and some of the drawings used in the shoot

Adding animators to complete the masterpiece

In addition to the director combo of Dear and Geleyn, the Blinkink/Hornet pitch was given added weight by the presence of Disney character designers and animators who were brought in at pitch stage to design how the animals in the ad would look. The team was looking for a character designer who created animals which were realistic-looking rather than cartoons. They found Aaron Blaise, the director of Brother Bear (the film that was used as a reference for the test), who had also worked on The Lion King and Pocahontas among other classics. “He’s an amazing artist, incredible,” says Dear, “he really understands animals. He spends a lot of his time in the wild, going on safari and life drawing animals and studying how they move.”

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[ Via CreativeReview ]

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(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

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