Our animated story of a Christmas tree presented an inspiring and heartwarming message for children.

Our Warming Winter Animation was a Christmas Sell Out

Commercial Motion design
client McDonald and Dobro
year 2019
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Our animated story of a Christmas tree presented an inspiring and heartwarming message for children.
client McDonald and Dobro
year 2019
Like it? Share it!

Project Background

We have joined the creative team of DDB/Dobro, who are at the final stage of finalizing their ideas for a McDonald’s media campaign.  "Joined" is a slight understatement... Our character design was chosen for the animation!

The Challenge

Our biggest design challenge was to work simultaneously with two different forms of media, namely books and animation. A story is told in a different way when using illustrations, where it is important to depict a moment that accurately depicts the situation with a single picture. In animation, we use a linear plot which allows more information to be added.

While working on the illustrations for the book and the animation simultaneously, we had to decide on the most crucial moments for the story which would then serve as the core of illustrations to depict situations in the book.

These fragments became the basis for the script of the animation, the purpose of which was to present the events preceding the story presented in the TV commercial. It was crucial to maintain consistency between the different media platforms, ensuring that there was continuity between characters. The characters played by the actors as well as the Christmas tree character had to be instantly recognizable within the animation.

There’s nothing like a challenge to bring people together and get into the Christmas spirit!  While our friends were trying to find the first snow this season for TV adverts, we came up with a different plan: we simply drew some instead!

Plot and Means of Expression

The animation for children is silent and has only background music. Animations without voiceover present the challenge of only having gestures, facial expressions, and the composition to use as tools to tell the plot. In this instance, that is a limited set of tools as the main characters were trees behaving as human

This led to us ensuring at the design stage that each tree would have specific features which would be associated with certain emotions and personality traits. The shape of the hairstyle, the size and shape of the characters’ eyes reveal small details about each tree’s personality.

Creative Concept

We opted to use a cartoon, textured art style which we think worked beautifully. It helped to present the story of the tree in a sweet and engaging way, while being appealing to both adults and children. The tree has facial expressions; we illustrated its mood and character by the movement of its twigs.

Interactive children’s book

For the book, we designed charming winter illustrations, but also short pieces of animation! The idea is simple: first, you download the app, put your phone into the book, and suddenly the Christmas tree comes to life! This helped make the book interactive and appealing in a modern and unique way.

"The Great History of the Little Christmas Tree" consists of 10 engaging chapters, with each one having its own short animation about the main Christmas tree character. How cool is that?!

Animation technique

We used cell animation for some of the scenes with characters and added cutout elements where the action required it. Then we started to play with animated textures, grain, and a lowered frame rate. This enabled us to unify the animation style, as the animation was the combination of work from many animators. Lastly, we added some parallaxes and differential plans division, although this wasn’t part of our initial plan.

Results

The result of all these efforts and challenges is a 2.5-minute story packed with emotion and Christmas spirit. It had such an impact on the imagination of children and parents that the 60 000 books, which are a combination of illustrations and animated fragments, as well as the whole animation, sold out within a few days.

In fact, it was so popular that long after the application had been removed from google play and app store, we were receiving requests to make the animation available for the booklet. Our work was the gift that kept on giving!

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