London - Animation production company, th1ng, has again collaborated
with its live-action sister company, th2ng, to create a Christmas
campaign for computer game shop, Gamestation, in which dialogue is
replaced by 3D game characters in speech bubbles. Created for
Cheethambell JWT, the production was completed entirely in-house.
The campaign comprises two spots – "Guitar" and "Wrestler" – which show Christmas shoppers, unfamiliar with the gaming world, in Gamestation shops asking genned-up assistants for advice. But dialogue is eschewed by game avatars in speech bubbles to represent the uninitiated shopper’s old-fashioned idea of gaming versus the assistant’s up-to-the-minute knowledge of what games are currently in. So "Guitar" sees a retro animated guitar player in the shopper’s speech bubble, but a sophisticated animated guitar player in the shop assistant’s bubble. The spots end with the contemporary characters blowing their retro counterparts out the water.
A key aspect of the campaign was to make Gamestation shops appear friendly, informative, and nonthreatening to non-gamers. Simon Cracknell’s live-action direction focused on soft lighting in addition to fun, quirky and lighthearted performances. He also gave the spots a surreal but normal feel to help suspend disbelief of the animation.
Another crucial element was the animation which had to be strong enough to bring the customer and assistant’s conversations to life. Animation director, Andy Powell, designed the retro wrestler character by referencing old WWF fighters and including elements like spandex, headbands and a big belly. Powell made the resulting model more low poly to give it that old game feel. The modern wrestler’s design was based on a mixture of WWE fighters. The retro guitar player was a blend of Buddy Holly and Joe 90, while his modern counterpart echoes metal heroes like Slash. The biggest 3D challenge, however, was the speech bubble design because ideas of how speech bubbles should look vary wildly, plus they had to sit convincingly within the live action.
The 3D process was meticulously planned, starting with storyboards and animatics before creating a shot-by-shot CG previs so that Powell knew exactly where the animation would sit in the live-action. This completely eliminated post production errors and meant that only a bit of fine-tuning was required. The 3D design, build, animation and comp required three-and-a-half weeks and was completed in-house using Autodesk's Maya.
Project: Gamestation Bubbles: Wrestler & Guitar
Creative Agency: Cheethambell JWT
Creative Directors: Andy Cheetham
Creatives: Richard Sorensen (Writer) and Paul Kinsella (A/D)
Agency Producer: Bridget Pelicias
Production Company: th2ng and th1ng
Director: Simon Cracknell (th2ng) and Andy Powell (th1ng)
Prod Co Producer: Hannah Cooper (th2ng) and Lydia Russell (th1ng).
Post Production: th1ng
Editor: Quin Williams
Exposure: National TV