Mixing Classical Animation and Stop-motion

"Harmony is an integral part of how I am able to do far more footage for clients today than I could have done on paper." — Dominic Carola, President and Creative Director at PREMISE Entertainment

Mixing Classical Animation and Stop-motion

The Making of the John Lewis Christmas Commercial Using Toon Boom Harmony

Located in Orlando, Florida, PREMISE Entertainment is a premiere media-based production company specializing in storytelling and character development for animation and live action productions. The executive and creative team brings together industry professionals, former Walt Disney Feature Animation colleagues, and live action film veterans. Relying on Toon Boom Harmony for close to 10 years, PREMISE had the opportunity to put the technology to great use in The Bear and The Hare, the highly anticipated John Lewis Christmas commercial produced by Blink Ink and Hornet Films, for its chain of upmarket department stores operating throughout Great Britain.

As reported in the Metro Reporter on November 12, 2103, The Bear and The Hare already has 4.7 million views on YouTube, compared to last year's The Journey, which collected 3.7 million since its launch in 2012. The commercial also had a staggering 86,300 mentions on Twitter in its opening weekend, which saw a 29% increase on last year's advert's opening two days, according to research by global social media agency We Are Social. John Lewis has also recorded 7,000 new Twitter followers and 12,000 Facebook fans over the weekend.

  • Lead Clean Up Janelle Bell Martin
  • Paper Animation - Aaron Blaise
  • Paperless Animation - Dominic Carola

Such resounding success can be rightfully attributed to the outstanding quality of the animation and storytelling delivered in this two-minute commercial. On the PREMISE side, the team included Aaron Blaise and Dominic Carola as 2D Animation Supervisors, as well as Janelle Bell Martin as Head of Final Line. On the Blink Ink and Hornet Films side, Elliott Dear and Yves Geleyn acted as Directors while Bart Yates, Josephine Gallagher, Michael Feder and James Stevenson Bretton were the producers and Benjamin Lole production manager.

The Bear and The Hare
The Bear and The Hare

In order to achieve such a unique stylistic look and feel, the teams on both sides of the Atlantic followed a thorough creative process:

  1. All the animation was created in Orlando, of which approximately 50% of the character footage was done digitally using Harmony. The clean-up and line test were also processed through the software. This first process resulted in the creation of approximately 4,000 drawings, all done within 6–8 weeks from rough to clean-up.
  2. All the vectorized drawings were sent electronically to London, where they were coloured and printed using a laser-cutting printer.
  3. Each laser cut image of the 2D animation was then placed in the 3D set environment for the stop-motion process, capturing each unique frame one at a time.

"I really love animation and bringing characters to life. And sometimes I miss the beauty of working on paper after doing it for so many years. However, I switched over to the digital paperless animation workflow several years ago. I embraced the digital pipeline process and it has continued to increasingly get better and become more natural. Nowadays the purest in me only gets to animate on paper when I am doing a demonstration or lecture. All my rough character animation for The Bear and The Hare was done using Harmony and on a Cintiq. Both of which are an integral part of how I am able to do far more footage for clients today than I could have done on paper. In this day and age of tight schedules and being able to make revisions on the fly, for me personally, I can't imagine not animating digitally in order to meet today's deadlines", stated Dominic Carola, President and Creative Director at PREMISE Entertainment.

Dominic also commented on how impressed he was to see that the stop-motion animation done in London matched the original line test that the studio in Florida had provided as a reference. As the goal was to create unique animation from beginning to end, they judiciously relied on reuse for some animal actions, combining different sequences of multiple animal characters.

Without a doubt, this Disney-themed tale has cast its magic spell on all viewers, reminding us of the importance of quality storytelling, which was well supported by animation technology to ultimately deliver a masterpiece. The Bear and The Hare is another gem in PREMISE's track record, which makes them the preferred partner for any quality project.

About PREMISE Entertainment

PremiseEntertainment.com is a premiere media-based production company specializing in storytelling and character development for animation and live action productions. Premise Entertainment consist of industry professionals, and former Walt Disney Feature Animation colleagues, and live action film veterans located in Orlando Florida. Premise is an originator of creative content as well as a support and Co-Production studio for Film, Television, Publishing and Web-based media. Premise services include a creative agency and outsource support as a development and partner production company.

PREMISE Entertainment maintains a focus on quality character-driven content from development and story concept all the way through production to final compositing, editorial and post. Premise proudly associates its services with highly reputable clients, projects, artists and Co-Production studios.