Friday, March 21, 2014

The Bear & The Hare: Let's Go There

I have recently gotten reports from citizens further south that spring has indeed begun to descend. (Being from Ithaca, I just have to trust the reports and hope that one day maybe the snow will melt and I’ll be able to find my car again.) That said, before it’s too late, I’d like to sneak in one last cold weather post. 

In 2013 Blink released a Christmas advert entitled, “The Bear & The Hare.” The advert went viral immediately. First of all, the story of a sad bear who had never seen Christmas in itself is enough to bring the strongest man to tears. (The Budweiser “Puppy Love” advertisement aired during the 2014 Superbowl had a similar effect.)

Still, it was the animation process that propelled The Bear & The Hare into the limelight. The Director’s of The Bear & The Hare, Elliot Dear and Yves Geleyn, wanted to create something new and original, while still retaining a certain sense of nostalgia. Their solution? Combine old, hand drawn 2D animation with 3D sets and stop motion techniques.

Check it Out:

Beautiful right? Would you believe me if I told you that almost everything you just saw was done right on set, through the camera? True story. 

According to CG Meetup, the animation process involved constant shifts between 2D and 3D worlds. In order to achieve this complicated combination the whole film was first created in Blinkink Studios as a 3D pre-visualisation animatic with all the sets and characters built to scale. This allowed everything to be developed and planned alongside the model-makers and animators, thus integrating the different disciplines and processes before the set was built or the characters were printed.

Now I’ll explain the process with the help of some great visual aids.

First, Disney director and animator Aaron Blaise (Brother Bear, The Lion King, Mulan) and his team of veteran Disney animators designed the characters. 

Then, before introducing any three-dimensional elements, the animators created a mock up of what the final product might look like.

Once the basic mock up was established, each frame of the 2D characters were printed onto mounted paper and cut with a laser. 

Each frame (nearly 4,000 in total) was then individually hand-labelled before going on set.

Expert modelmaker John Lee (Aliens, Fantastic Mr Fox, Frankenweenie) was appointed head of production design and was in charge of building the 3D set. 

Feature-film stop-frame animators then spent 6 weeks bringing the world to life.

Here's a really beautiful video chronicling the process that you should definitely check out if mixed animation interests you.

John Lewis 'The Bear & The Hare' - The Making Of from Blink on Vimeo.

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