The Making of Wintery Winds Christmas Ad

Last Christmas I produced a Christmas Ad and I wanted to write a blog post about it, but by the time I got around to it, it was too late. So I decided to save it for a Christmas in July post. So Merry Christmas, here it is.

I was asked to create a Christmas Ad for the online retailer Shop.com. I decided that I would focus on the ease of online shopping compared to the hassle of having to shop in public at the malls. I also wanted to do something different, I wanted to do some type of animation.

So I talked with animator Matt Twitchell about creating an animated ad. We both liked the old Rankin & Bass animation style (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer) so we decided to go with that style of animation.

With that in mind, Matt started looking for inspiration pictures and examples, and I started to write the script. I always liked the scenes from the movie “Elf” where Buddy the Elf talks about his trip from the North Poll to New York City. I thought that type of story line would fit in well with the animation style and also give me plenty of chances to add in the downfalls of shopping in public and the joys of shopping online.

After I wrote the script, I wrote out a shot list. I’m not that great of a drawer so I don’t do storyboards. I just write out what the scene is, sometimes I’ll add stick figures or pictures, but for the most part it’s just a description of what I want.

Once I had that I presented it to Matt and he liked it. He then started to sketch out the various characters and scenes.

WWCCForestSketch

Sketch of the Candy Cane Forest.

WWElfSketch

Our main character, the Elf.

While he was doing that I started looking for Voice Over talent. I used Voice123. Once I found what I was looking for I edited the VO for the timing and pace I wanted and gave it to Matt. He then added his sketches and made an animatic, you can watch that here. Once we had that and liked it, Matt started the hard part, the animation.

I asked Matt a few questions about his process. Here are his responses.

What software did you use?

“Cinema 4D and After Effects CS6”

WWCinema4D

Cinema 4D.

How or where did you learn it?

I Learned after effects by following tutorials online and trial and error over the years. I never went to school for it, though I’m sure it would have been helpful. Cinema 4D, well its funny because I learned that as I was working on the project. Thank God for youtube.

WWFireplacePullout

Screen shot from Cinema 4D.

What were some of the challenges making it?

A big hurdle for me was rigging the character. I spent many years learning a different 3D program so I could get into digital animation but I always had a hard time rigging a character. When you’re on a project that is expected to get done, you find the motivation to overcome that challenge, and I’m glad I did.

WWCinema4DElf

Another Cinema 4D screen shots

Is there anything you would change?

I would have liked to spend more time getting the animations smoothed out. Some look too rigid for me. I would have also like to have made the toy store scene more lively, with street lamps etc.

How long did it take?

Around 2-3 weeks

While Matt was working on the animation, I began to work on the music and sound effects. I used 4 different Christmas songs in the Ad, and all of them came from the Digital Juice Music Libraries. I wanted each scene to have it’s own feel and music.

As Matt finished a section he would pass it off to me and I’d place it on the timeline and start adding sound effects. I got most of my sound effects from Digital Juice and Audio Jungle. If I remember correctly there are about 40 or 50 sound effects in the entire piece. Often times I used multiple clips overtop of each other to get my desired outcome.

WWTimeline

My timeline with various SFX layers.

I occasionally had to have Matt tweak a few of the animations to get them to fit with the sound track, but in general things fit together really nicely.

We finished the Ad and they loved it. For me, it’s one of my favorite Ads I’ve worked on. We won a telly for it.

WWTelly

Mr. Twitchell with his Telly.

Matt was great to work with and he’s very talented, you can see more of his work on his website mtwitchellmedia.com

So that’s my Christmas in July post. Merry Christmas and enjoy the rest of the summer. You can watch Wintery Winds here.

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