Innocean had decided to move away from the more traditional live action approach and use animation as a more impactful explainer device. These animations needed to communicate the features of a new KIA smart app in a fun digestible format suitable for a trade show audience. The timeline was tight due to the Christmas break so our workflow needed to be agile enough to get ninety seconds of animation completed in an aggressive 6-week timescale.
The first task was to take the three different client scripts and create style frames for each of them with the ultimate goal of selling the idea of animation to KIA. Taking cues from a client provided mood board we designed a range of contrasting styles with visual appeal. The client mentioned they loved the style of Pixar’s 3D characters but due to timescales and budget realised that this wasn’t a realistic option. Knowing this we tried to come up with a 2d equivalent in our style frames, essentially distilling what made Pixar’s characters resonate so well into a more affordable 2d package.
After presenting these style frames the client gravitated towards our Pixar inspired solution for the “Mom Knows Best” concept, so we quickly switched gears into full production.
As the chosen art style was inspired by classic Disney and Pixar concept art our first step was to design our main characters using their iconic design language. Choosing what features to exaggerate and how to convey a personality in each design is something our illustrators relished so this was a really fun part of the process. Luckily the client already loved our interpretation of the Mom character from the earlier style frames so her design was locked down early. We then provided two alternative designs for her family.
The script required a full supporting cast of extras so we quickly concepted designs for each of them that conveyed the humour in the scripts.
Of huge importance to KIA was how we proposed to show their cars in this animated world. Initially, the client felt that photography might be the best option but we quickly convinced them that using stylized illustration would allow their cars to become fully integrated within the world allowing viewers to concentrate on the narrative. Our chosen art style easily allowed our illustrators to create a faithfully illustrated representation of the KIA car.
Equally important was our approach to app screens and how we could stylize them but still keep them feeling like real world counterparts. So we redrew UI elements using sketchier lines instead of clean vector shapes. Having a fully illustrated phone also helped the app design blend seamlessly into our animated world.
Due to the tight turnaround, we had to simultaneously storyboard the provided scripts whilst still finalizing character and background design. Our nimble pipeline enabled us to push ahead with boarding always ensuring the client felt in control and could still make important calls on design.
Traditionally at this stage, we would have created a rough animatic from the storyboards but due to time constraints, we had to go straight into full animation using finalized assets. Our client helped this process by signing off boards early and having the foresight to imagine the flow without explicitly requiring a timed edit.
This whole project was quite an organic process. While the animation side was developing so was the recipe for compositing and creating interesting light and shadow throughout the spots. The use of focus pulls, stylized glows, light wraps and reflections recreated a lot of the techniques found in high-end 3D and live action without any of their technical and time-consuming issues. This level of compositing elevated the look from a somewhat flat 2d world to something approaching feature quality all while still maintaining the painterly aesthetic.
Sound design was handled by the excellent sound house TA2 and all voiceover was recorded in both English and French. This meant that lip sync needed to be redone for the French versions of each spot. Our character rigs were designed with this in mind so whilst still a time-consuming endeavour it didn’t interrupt our pipeline or most importantly the final delivery date!
Below you can see one of the six final spots we took from pitch to the final product in just over a month. We are very proud of these spots and excited to develop this style further in future projects.HIDE