Friday, March 13, 2015

BR Toys Christmas Ad

In the spring of 2000 I was asked by the advertizing agency of Scandinavia's largest toy retailer, BR Legetøj (BR Toys), to produce the company's Christmas TV ad for that year. Thus, I spent most of the hot summer drawing Santa Claus and his reindeer flying through the snow-covered landscape.

In the previous years BR Toys had released a new Christmas ad every year, so I was hoping to become their regular supplier of these films. But apparently they were so happy with this particular commercial that they have run it on Danish TV every Christmas since then. That would be 15 years now, and counting...

Let me share with you some of the artwork that lay behind the final film. This is the final storyboard that I did, based on a pretty good draft supplied by the advertizing agency, Nørgård Mikkelsen.

Storyboard, BR Toys Christmas TV Ad, 2000

The "cel" painting and camera work on this film was done on a computer. However, the backgrounds were painted in the old fashioned way. I was always especially pleased with these backgrounds, which were done by Thomas Dreyer, who supplied backgrounds for most of the commercials I produced in the 90's. Here's a selection of layouts and color BGs.

The last scene is a multi-plane shot with the front rooftops (overlay) moving at a higher speed that the background. The animation was done "in place", which gives the animator more control of the movement in relation to the screen. It also allows for inbetweening on twos instead of on ones (which is of course a lot less work), while still avoiding any jittering (strobe effect). The pan must be planned in advance, however, in order for the animation and background to match up correctly - in this case so the two Christmas presents hit the chimneys in mid-action.

Here are all the rough animation keys for the shot.

Here's a rough pencil test of the entire film. The animation is all done by me.

The final cleanup and inbetweening were done by Uffe Danielsen and his experienced team at Ø. Film (later Mark Film in Viborg, Denmark). This is the final film in color.

The co-operation with BR Toys was quite successful, and even though they never released another Christmas film, they did order a number of smaller TV ads during the following years, including this little Sponsor film (in Swedish), which was later re-done in four versions with Cousin BR playing different instruments.

The Christmas ad and Sponsor film shown in BR shop, Christmas 2009.

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