How we created the Orange Fox holiday advert

By Nicola Bible, Junior Animator at Orange Fox Studios 

Hello there! Thank you for taking the time to join me as I talk through the making of ‘The Orange Fox’ advert for Orange Fox Studios. Firstly (if you haven’t already) please check out the finished advert below:

If you didn’t already know, I joined Orange Fox Studios back in July 2020 as an intern, after using the first lockdown to work towards a portfolio of Motion Graphic work. At the beginning of September, Creative Director Lee Tomes asked me about working on an advert for the studio. The idea being for the advert to promote Orange Fox Studio’s ability to create high quality animation that ‘banished the bland and the boring’ (the studio’s motto and mission statement).

Starting the process

The first step was to get the thinking caps on, jotting down ideas and searching for inspiration (mainly on Pinterest). Lee suggested that the Fox could ‘bring the forest to life’ as a metaphor for Orange Fox being able to take animation to the next level. This was where the idea was born for the fox coming out of hibernation and by doing so, waking up the rest of the forest (by having a bit of a party!). From here we created what we call a ‘story flow’ document which outlined our chosen story. Think of it as a written storyboard of sorts.

Initial mood-board of ideas.

Below is the initial sketch of the fox character. I really liked this, but soon realised there were limitations to the design if I were to make the character walk and dance. When discussing the design with Lee, we agreed that the fox needed to appeal to a different audience as this first design was very child friendly. Back to the drawing board it was!

Some simple and initial storyboard frames

These were created to get a rough idea of what assets and backgrounds would need to be made. The next step was to get into Adobe Illustrator and get creating!

 

Creating assets and the ‘look and feel’

The first thing that I created in Illustrator was the Fox, as this was the star of the show, it was pretty important! This part of the process was a huge learning curve for me. My experience in Illustrator was very minimal at this point so there were a few things that, later on in my process, I had to overcome because of the way in which I designed the fox initially. (But I will talk more about that later).

A snapshot from my Pinterest inspiration board 

There was a lot of experimentation with the backdrops for the film. They are quite different to the final ones for sure! Right at the start of this I drew from the inspiration that I had found and colour palettes I liked on my Pinterest board. I soon realised that what was not working in the early designs was primarily my colour palette, as there were too many and they were also very dull.

I decided to narrow down the colour usage which worked well, making the design much stronger. I then used textures that I made from photoshop brushes, bringing them into Illustrator and used a clipping mask to crop the texture to the shape. I also used the brush tool within the clipping mask to create the snow texture and tree bark textures. As you can see from the final image below, this was a really effective technique and really helped to take the backgrounds to the next level.

Once the backgrounds were done, I designed the other characters with a variety of different colours to choose from so I would have options when I started animating. I also re-visited the fox character, tweaking the assets ready for animation and altering the colour so it was more vibrant.

 

Animating and brining everything to life

The next step was to get into after effects and start animating! I decided to start with the effects that I needed to create, like the snow and the disco ball. I found a variety of different tutorials on YouTube to help me achieve these elements. For example, I used the cc Particle World effect to achieve the snow and get the feeling of depth across (it makes the effect 3D so you can play around with perspective).

The two biggest parts of this whole animation were the fox walk and the dancing scene, so they were the next two things on my list to do. This is where I realised that the way in which I designed my fox character made it a little more difficult to animate as it wasn’t made with the thought that it would be taken into a plug in like Duik Bassel. For anyone that doesn’t know, Duik is a plug in that helps you to animate things like walk cycles. It acts as your characters skeleton, so that when you move the foot for example, the whole leg would follow. A super useful tool (and it is free!) that I set about rigging my character up with straight away. (video shows process before limbs were attached to rig.)

However, what I found was that because the joints of my character were not evenly rounded, when I moved the foot the edges of the limbs would stick out as the leg bent. In case you were wondering – not the look I was going for. So, I realised I had two options: re-design the character so that it would work with Duik (bearing in mind this was 2 different angles for the walk and dance) or do it old-school and animate each limb with rotation and position properties. So, I went for old-school. I got my copies of ‘the illusion of life’ (Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston) and ‘the animator’s survival kit’ (Richard Williams) down from the shelf and began to draw out the key motions needed to achieve a walk cycle.

Keyframe notes

I set about animating my keyframes. And it worked! (I should add I also used the puppet tool and the cc bend it tool for the head/body and tail assets).

But it wasn’t great. I came across a tutorial on Skillshare lead by Motion Designer Jake Bartlett. I used his 2-legged tutorial to help me in understanding what was happening in my own keyframes and it helped a lot.

I felt that something was still a little off about it though so I decided to contact Jake and ask for some advice. He was so helpful, showing me what it was that I needed to focus on (which was my timing and spacing of the legs) and in doing so the walk looked so much better! Thank you Jake, I am so grateful! Check out the final keyframes below.

As for the dancing animation, well, I had to film some super embarrassing footage of me attempting to bust some moves… Let’s say no more!

The rest of the animation was created using different properties to move the characters/assets and where needed the cc bend it tool, for things like the rabbit ears. I made shadows for all the moving characters by duplicating the layer, adding a fill effect, changing the opacity, adding a fast box blur and making the layer 3D.

I worked closely with Lee every step of the way (over video call!) talking through each part of the advert and making sure that it was heading in the right direction. Lee also worked with Michael Tedstone, the Composer and sound Designer for this advert to really bring this piece to life with his music. Thank you Michael!

This project has been a real labour of love, and has pushed me to challenge myself at every turn, which I am grateful for. You don’t learn things without challenge, and I have definitely learnt so much. I’d like to say a huge thank you to Lee, for your continuous support and for giving me this great opportunity!

I hope everyone enjoys the advert!

Nicki.

3 video storytelling choices that work for creative advertising

Ok, let me first start by addressing the title of the blog.

There are many creative techniques used when it comes to video storytelling and there isn’t a one shoe fits all approach. The brand, the audience, marketing channels and touchpoints all have a say on whether a creative concept will leave its mark. We need to first understand these things before we can conceptualise ideas that will resonate with a target audience. However, there are notable trends which I believe make a video advertising campaign memorable – At least to me.

Now, I’m a sucker for a good story. (Thank you, Netflix!) It’s one of the reasons I run a video storytelling agency. Great storytelling is powerful, it can have impact and it’s an incredibly rewarding process if done correctly. With so much video content out there these days, it’s really got to make me feel something if I’m going to remember it. And that’s one of the key points we need to ask ourselves when we’re creating short-form video content for advertising – Is our idea memorable? Other questions we might consider; Is the idea easy to get? Will the target audience relate?

Recently, I’ve seen a batch of new adverts on TV, the cinema and online. All of these adverts had plenty in common. The production values were high, they looked like TV or Film and they all had a length of between 30 and 60 seconds. However, the adverts that resonated with me the most all seemed to fall into three styles and genre choices. These genre choices were;

#1 – Comedy / Humour

It goes without saying – you can’t bore someone into buying something. Humour is a great way to engage an audience and make your advert stand out.

uSwitch “Coach” Broadband Comparison TV Advert

This advert from uSwitch was actually released in 2017, but I only recently discovered it. The memorable character and the silly humour had me giggling. What’s great is that this format is easily replicated with new scenarios and characters as long as the main character is present and the humour remains consistent.

#2 – The Quirky Drama

AO “Delivering Tomorrow” Advert

Anyone else think AO have lucked out with the fact that there is a mainstream song with their business name in the Lyrics? Regardless their new TV and Cinema ad is excellent. It’s got an interesting story – the sun begins to flicker and eventually goes out, plunging the world into darkness. Turns out the sun is a giant bulb and it’s up to the AO team to deliver and fit the new sun to bring light back to the world. My favourite moment is the sun being wheeled out of a giant box which reads “SUN 174 QUADRILLION WATTS” on the side.

#3 – The “Pull on the Heart Strings” Drama

Remember those beautiful John Lewis adverts? The one’s with the lovely stories, haunting acoustic music and high-end visuals to match. Yep – style three is the pull on the heart strings drama. There’s two more adverts which I love that both fall into this category. The cinematography in these both these 60 second adverts is excellent and the music choice really heightens the drama on-screen.

Lloyds Bank, The Running of the Horses:

Dogs Trust TV Ad #Specialsomeone:

Anthropomorphic Storytelling

Anthropomorphism is the process of giving human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals and plants. Technology advancements have allowed marketers to use computer-generated imagery (CGI) to develop new and innovative campaigns that can form a warm connection between the advert and viewer.

Viewers seem to be a lot more receptive to an animal with human characteristics promoting a service or product than with human-beings. This is where anthropomorphic storytelling comes in. A prime example of how successful a marketing campaign involving anthropomorphic characters can be is Comparethemarket.com’s Russian meerkat family.

 

 

Compare the Meerkat marketing campaign launched on 5th January 2009 and is still going strong today. The television adverts feature Aleksandr Orlov, a CGI anthropomorphic Russian meerkat, with his family and friends. Comparethemarket.com were soon seeing a fantastic return on investment, with it’s site becoming the fourth most visited insurance website in the UK, up from 16th in 2008. Furthermore, after launching the advertising campaign the company’s sales doubled.

Along with the television adverts, the campaign has grown further through the years. In October 2010 Aleksandr Orlov released his own autobiography, much to the public’s excitement. The book reached second place on the Amazon UK website on its first week of sale. And in July 2011 the company began production of cuddly toys representing each of the meerkat characters. A cuddly toy was given to every customer who bought an insurance policy through their website. Receiving a cuddly Orlov and Family toy was seen as a quirky incentive to use Comparethemarket.com.

meerkat toys

 

There are other companies too who have successfully included anthropomorphic storytelling in their marketing campaigns. Sofa retail chain Sofology, once Sofaworks, now have Neal the sloth who is the face of the company. Sofology also now offers a free cuddly Neal toy with every sofa purchase. From personal experience it really does work. We went into a local Sofology store just to see if we could get a Neal toy on its own. A couple of visits later we left with a sofa and two Neals!

 

A survey carried out by Promotional Products Week found that the UK is a nation of freebie hunters who will change brands for a free gift. The survey found that 3 in 10, of 1000 men and women asked, purposefully changed from their regular brand to receive a freebie. 34% said that they would be persuaded to change brands if there was a free cuddly toy on offer.

Is it because the toy is free that people are attracted to Comparethemarket.com or Sofology? I believe our affection and desire for these characters runs far beyond our need for a quick freebie. The cuddly toys are representations of animals that share the same human characteristics as us. Because they are anthropomorphic characters with personalities and emotions of their own, viewers can form their emotional connection’s with Neal and Aleksandr. They are like familiar, reoccurring friend’s.

Our affection is a result of clever storytelling. It gives the characters personality while moving them away from who they actually are: animals. Neal does not hang from a tree in any adverts, but instead he likes slouching on the sofa as we would at home in front of our own television sets. These human characteristic’s, effectively conveyed through the adverts, makes the viewers feel that they are more than just a CGI character and toy. They are relatable and more personable than a human could ever be.

Every successful marketing campaign starts with a great idea and a great story. If you want to discuss an idea with us or want some friendly creative advice we are just a phone call away. Get in touch with us to book a FREE consultation where you can discuss your business challenges and goals and how video can fit into your marketing plan.

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Super Bowl 50: A Marketer’s Paradise

Sunday 7th February will see the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers compete at Super Bowl 50, one of the most watched events in the world. With 114.4 million U.S. viewers watching it alone last year, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest marketing opportunities of the calendar year. It does come at a price however, and it is a big one. Broadcaster CBS will charge a record $5 million (£3.5m) for a 30-second advertising slot this year. The huge global audience attracted to Super Bowl allows the broadcaster to demand such high costs.

hashtag-bowl-2015-generic-1920-800x450

Digital marketing expert Joanne Bradford explained that the Super Bowl could not be beaten for the “impact of that moment” and the “brand awareness that it offers”.

 

The Super Bowl television adverts are a popular talking point, extending a brand’s awareness span beyond just a day. In fact, talk of the advertising campaigns begin weeks in advance. MarketingLand.com have their own feature called the ‘Hashtag Bowl’, where they cover all of the latest news and developments on which companies are taking part and how the productions are going.

Among the many brands participating, Doritos have launched their final ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ campaign. The contest invited fans to produce their own Super Bowl adverts to be in with the chance of having their production aired live on game day. This year Doritos have received nearly 4,500 entries which they have whittled down to three finalists. The winner is determined by the public, who can vote for their favourite entry up until 31st January. The campaign by Doritos is an effective marketing tool as it builds interaction goodwill with it’s fans and runs many weeks in advance of the Super Bowl event itself.

At the time of writing, 35 brands have announced their participation in the Super Bowl ad battle. To showcase their brands, some ad campaigns feature well known stars such as Alec Baldwin (Amazon), Christopher Walken (Kia) and Liam Neeson (LG Electronics) to name but a few. This highlights just how important the Super Bowl event is for companies. It is the US version of the UK’s Christmas advert. See our earlier blog post on the battle of the Christmas ad.

amazon-super-bowl-50-ad.

 

Global Brand Exposure

Major sporting events offer a rare occasion for companies to be market their brand to vast live audiences. But it’s just the Super Bowl that attracts people from around the globe – The FIFA World Cup final in 2014 has been estimated by many broadcasters to have been watched by a global audience of at least 909 million. The peak audience in the UK reached 21 million.

As a result of the high audience figures, broadcasters were again able to put an expensive price tag on a 30-second advert slot on their channel. ITV for example were charging between £275,000 and £300,000 for adverts in matches that featured England and between £40,000 and £100,000 for other matches.

2016 promises to be, yet again, a year for major sporting events. Football’s Euro 2016 is being contested in France this June, while athletics’ main event, the Olympic Games, is coming up in Rio in August.

How can your business tap into this?

We’re realists, so we know unless you’re Coca Cola or Amazon you’re highly unlikely to fork out £3.5 million of your great British pounds for a 30 second tv ad slot. But this doesn’t stop your brand from tapping into the audience that will be taking part in such large events. A well planned and relevant marketing video, released on or around the event can do wonders for audience response and brand exposure. Why not produce a corporate drama film that intelligently and creatively advertises your brand? The best example we’ve ever seen is Reebok’s Terry Tate: Office Linebacker.

Telling stories is what we do. If you’re interested in exploring corporate drama for your brand, or just want some friendly advice, get in touch with us and we’ll have a coffee.

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“Hey Look at Me!!” – How to Grab Your Viewers Attention

“That was sooo boring” is something no one wants to hear about their videos. Whether it’s in marketing or in film, you want to capture interest. This is the only time it’s really okay to crave attention, I mean really crave it. You want people to watch it, but what if you can’t get them past the first five seconds?

If you’re anything like me, YouTube is probably you best friend. I can spend hours on it and eventually, my fingers start to get tired constantly hitting the skip button (for now we’ll ignore the videos which I actually start and then decide to leave, that is a WHOLE other topic). However there have been two times, on record where my finger actually paused. The first one was the Pantene – Labels ad.

When it started, the music and the imagery made me wonder ‘where exactly is this going?’ So I just kept on watching.

The second incident was a lot more light-hearted. After searching, I can’t for the life of me remember the brand or find the advert, but I do remember everything else.

Basically, it started with a man who paused his wrestling match on TV, the doorbell rings and he goes to get his takeaway. This wasn’t the fun part. The fun part was the wrestlers. The hilarious conversation that ensued between the two stuck, paused in probably the most awkward position actually made me laugh out loud. It was like a “mature” Toy Story.

Have you noticed a trend yet?

Whether it was humour or intrigue, these ads had me hooked. They were interesting, so they caught my attention. So how do you grab attention?

Don’t waste those five seconds

You can’t get them back. I’ve seen so many ads that waste their time with a fade in, or a “well placed” logo and slogan. I can’t help but wonder why do that? They’ve given no real reason to keep watching so obviously, I skip. I feel no urge or need to continue to watch. Lets look at McDonalds…

They get straight to the point, leaving their well placed logo and slogan right to the end. Just how it should be, in my humble opinion. If you’re interested in the McRib, this will definitely hold your attention.

Be relevant, relevent, relevant

So, for whatever reason, Google decided that because I watch a lot of cute baby videos and family vlogs, I am definitely a soon too be mum. I’m not. I every time I watched a video I was hit by diapers, baby food and educational toys. Skip, skip AND skip. This is just time wasted for you as a marketer or video director and me, your humble viewer.

This is just down to knowing your audience, and knowing them well. If it’s catered to the right people, they will watch.

Targeting, video marketing, attention

Be interesting

Now this is  tricky one. How do you make something interesting?

Think of it as the way you think about people. What type of people do you find interesting? Now I’m not talking about people you like, the word is interesting. Daring, controversial, opinionated, funny, mysterious etc., that’s what you want in your five seconds, impact. This can be done with visuals, sounds or words. Just looking at some still work, you can see how strong a single image can be. Now image a strong video.

video marketing, attention

It’s great to have amazing videos and marketing, but if you can’t get your viewers attention you might just be wasting your time. So don’t wait, make your five seconds count!

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Five Brilliant British TV Ads

Following on from our Creative Producers article about the ‘The Power of Online Video for Advertising’ post for Business2Community.com we have compiled a little shortlist of five adverts broadcast in the UK that we really like. These adverts are for big brands, produced by agencies handed big budgets, but it is interesting to explore the different methods of storytelling used to effectively represent the brand and engage their respected target audiences.

Lynx Excite Deodorant – Fallen Angels

All the elements comer together to make this advert effortlessly cool and shooting in eastern Europe offers a beautiful rustic backdrop for the film to play out. Even the tag line is cool ‘Even Angels Will Fall’.

 

Honda – Cog

Simply genius design and a long thought out ninth-month process went into putting it together. Six months of planning followed by short segments filmed over fours days and you have one heck of an advert. Honda estimates that worldwide sales rose by nearly £400m on the back of the ad.

 

Sony BRAVIA – Balls

Much was made about the production team behind ‘Balls’ actually doing this for real and indeed they did. A quarter of a million rubber balls were bounced down Filbert and Leavenworth streets in San Francisco. Accompanied by the haunting vocals of Jose Gonzalez and you have a truly beautiful advert.

 

T-Mobile –  Dance

T-Mobile – Welcome Back

It’s impossible not to feel good after viewing both of these excellent T-Mobile adverts. The message here is ‘Life is for Sharing’ so get out your phone. Adverts that make you feel good, make you laugh and smile are definitely ones that will live long in the memory.

 

If you like what you see here get in touch below and see what our team can do for you. If you have a story to tell but don’t know how to tell it, we can help.