What can you make with paper cut-outs, fishing line, a hole puncher, and a Canon 7D?
Lucas Zanotto shows us with his live action animation combined with digital post production in this spot for TUI. In a time where so much work is being made using primarily digital techniques, Lucas blends analog and digital creativity and production methods. In addition to the organic aesthetic, the live action animation is truly analog in that you can never repeat the same animation twice!
Check out an interview with Lucas, a making of video, and production stills…
What inspired you to create the TUI piece with such a tactile aesthetic?
Jung von Matt Hamburg came up with this campaign for TUI AG, which is the biggest travel agency in Germany. They provided a mood board and referenced some of my prior work. The references were the scenic architecture in one spot and a character in another. The inspiration was to combine these techniques and take them further.
JvM created a smart phone app, on which you can save your daily weather status on an online Facebook app. After 4 weeks, the person having the worst average weather wins a trip to the Dominican Republic. So the technique was the best way to support the story and show a character that goes through all types of bad weather to save points.
I wanted to keep it simple, thinking it would be nice to animate the set as I would with animation software, but animate it live in camera. I wanted to animate the character in that way as well, but it would have been too restricted so I decided to do it digitally. But that contrast is actually what creates some of the overall tension between the character and the weather and makes the story memorable.
Do you think a more organic look and feel affects the audience in a different way than a purely digital production?
Yes, it affects people in different ways based on their own taste or aesthetic sense. Analog has a charm because it has something tactile and magical in it. I personally like the organic look and feel, because I like to have some little mistakes in the work, the little unexpected things and touches. This gives to the aesthetics something special and unique, something individual to the story.
Can you share some details about what kind of materials you used and how the elements were made?
In this spot all the elements were cut out of paper. They are hanging on fishing line, are falling in to the stage and are blown away by a hairdryer. I deliberately kept it very flat to keep the world graphic and to keep purity and a consistency for the character and the landscape.
What kind of equipment did you use in the production and what software / techniques did you use in post-production.
The live footage was shot with a Canon 7D. The set was lit with two soft boxes. The postproduction was done in After Effects. The character is built in different mask layers and animated frame by frame.
The making of video really shows the hand-made quality of this piece, as well as analog nature of live action animation. Can you expand on what it was like to produce this spot?
Again, with the goal to keep things as simple as possible and keep the world consistent, live animation was conceived as one shot… of course it took many takes to get it right. But in each take you learn something. We also had an animatic with countdown for the main actions. All the weather situations and character interaction were worked out before hand with the client, using style frames and storyboards. It took quite a lot of thinking and a bit of testing to find out the best way to animate the live action weather part.
How would you describe this kind of production?
I think we are at a point where digital artists, animators and filmmakers are not thinking so much in terms of software, but in terms of what kind of tools can be used to tell the story. The medium of a screen is very forgiving and encouraging to seamless blending of techniques. In the end the most important part is to communicate the message in a clear and simple way. To describe this piece, the category of Mixed Media could work well.
What are your thoughts about combining traditional/analog techniques with digital production?
I think combining different techniques is a good option to create something personal and maybe original. If you stick too much to one option you often are restricted in expressing your ideas.
Check out more of Lucas’s work at www.lucaszanotto.com
Credits for TUI:
Direction/Design/Animation: Lucas Zanotto
Assistant: Robert Loebel
Sound design: David Kamp
Jung von Matt Team: René Requardt, Andres Maldonado, Tommy Norin, Salvatore Russomano