Alongside brands like Airbnb and Spotify, Uber is among a select group of 21st-Century companies that have tapped into the current zeitgeist and infused themselves into people’s everyday lives. That said, creating meaningful content around a peer-to-peer ridesharing (read: taxi) service can be a rough ride. In order to develop stimulating storytelling that stands out, engages the imaginations of users and reminds them of the driver-passenger human connection, Uber’s agency partner R/GA Singapore enlisted Le Cube to bring the brand to life through animation with the Year With Uber experience.
Year With Uber takes users’ unique data and transforms it into a personalized, animated music video that serves as a retrospective of their trips in 2017. It is available to riders in the Asia-Pacific region —11 markets, ranging from India to Singapore to Australia— and drew inspiration from the area’s diversity and vibrancy. Le Cube produced 273 seconds of animation that could generate over 5,000 story and song combinations — and the studio created it all in Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and Toon Boom Harmony.
“We wanted to elevate the experience from a mere data visualization piece, and for people to relate to and connect with the story we’re telling. With such a huge and varied audience, animation was the best way of expressing that,” says Pimwadee Lai, associate creative director at R/GA Singapore.
R/GA sought out Le Cube based on its previous work for MTV. The Argentinian animation studio specializes in advertising campaigns and content marketing, and has worked with some of the biggest agencies, brands and media platforms globally. For Year With Uber, Le Cube leveraged Toon Boom’s tools to execute the campaign on-time, on-budget and on-brief.
Normally, Le Cube produces 30 seconds to a minute of animation over four to eight weeks. For Year With Uber, it had a tight timeline of three-and-a-half months to produce over four minutes of content — largely broken up into eight-second clips. When conceptualizing these mini-scenarios, R/GA Singapore was inspired by cultural cues and customs specific to the Asia-Pacific region, the lived experiences of its team and added in extra elements to excite user imaginations and take advantage of animation as a medium.
Source: Le Cube.
“We incorporated a host of things that are unique to Asia-Pacific — the kind of cars, people and even animals you see during daily travels around the region. We’ve got Indian motorized auto-rickshaws, chickens riding pillion on a motorcycle, elderly uncles playing chess, perfectly coiffed high-society aunties and palm-tree-fringed beach roads,” says Lai.
Toon Boom’s streamlined pipeline helped Le Cube stay on track throughout production, and also aligned with R/GA’s brief of realistic-looking characters, backgrounds and architecture as well as tastefully incorporating regionally relevant cultural events like Diwali, Lunar New Year, Melbourne Cup and Ramadan.
“[Animating realistic characters] was a challenge. If you’re animating realistic human shapes, it’s difficult because you have to study anatomy to illustrate them accurately,” says Juan Manuel Freire, executive producer at Le Cube.
Source: Le Cube.
Once Le Cube found the right talent, it equipped them with the right tools; both Storyboard Pro and Harmony’s natural hand-drawing tools empowered its storyboard artists and animators to produce stylish work that stayed true to R/GA’s brief. In turn, the team changed characters’ skin to more fantastical colours (think: blue, purple, red) to play on the region’s diversity and vibrancy, and capitalize on animated storytelling.
While this was Le Cube’s first time using Toon Boom animation software, its team is already looking forward to the next production. “Because of Year With Uber, many of our animators now love Toon Boom software,” says Freire.
Similarly, R/GA Singapore was thrilled with the final product: “We love it! It was a long process with a lot of moving parts and different time zones involved, but the most rewarding moment was integrating the final animated visuals and music, which suddenly brought everything to life,” says Lai.
To date, Year With Uber has been enjoyed over 1.7 million times. Given the final results and response, it’s safe to say producing it in Toon Boom software was a five-star ride.
Are you using Toon Boom animation for advertising? Let us know about your project in the comments below.
Banner image source: Le Cube.