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By Alise Munson
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Earlier this spring, Minneapolis-based ad agency Clarity Coverdale Fury asked us to pitch a stop-motion approach for a new campaign for Clearway’s QUITPLAN Services – Minnesota’s free tobacco cessation program. Director Aaron Sorenson spearheaded the approach to create unique visuals mixed with unexpected compassionate humor.

The idea to use stop motion techniques to animate the campaign added a feeling of tactile warmth and personality. In the final work, CG animation was used for smoke/smog effects and money clouds.

The character designs also reinforced the negative judgment aimed at smokers. Both Wendall’s and Angie’s designs portray a mixture of exaggeration, idiosyncrasy and, most importantly, sympathy. Aaron’s directive was to make the main characters look a little beaten down and beleaguered with oversized expressive eyes to help them communicate their feelings and thoughts.

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Aaron: “One of the funniest things in Angie’s story is the dynamic with her husband.

I love the passive aggressive air freshener gag because how it aptly portrays the way couples criticize each other. Just imagining the looks between the two makes me laugh and cringe”

The secondary characters’ designs were less compassionate and slightly obnoxious and self righteous to add another level of humor and sympathy to the story.

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Some of the puppets were also built as clay miniatures to support the forced perspective of distance as Angie drives away.

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The final puppets were first sculpted and then molded. For the bodies, foam latex was used over steel armatures and heads were hard cast resin with clay replacement mouths, eyebrows and eyelids. All were painted and then dressed in handmade clothes according to the character design.

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In some of the early environment artwork for Wendall, Designer Ross Stewart echoed the idea of transition in the end city scene. Smoker Wendall walks from a depressing industrial section of the city with billowing smoke stacks (reminiscent of cigarettes) into a part of the city where the sun is just starting to illuminate the buildings.

Aaron: “I thought it was important to visually telegraph the story’s theme of hope as we transitioned from a downbeat beginning to an upbeat ending. We ended each spot with a wide panoramic view to drive home the feeling of hope and not condemnation.”

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In the Angie spot, the narrative was based around the metaphor of taking a different turn of an old road. Positive changes and a new outlook (sunnier, clearer) begin with smoking cession. This created a problem for the stop-motion team. How would they show a car driving on a road without building hundreds of feet of a continuous road set on physically limited stage space.

The solution - build a large wooden drum dressed as a road with grass, trees and signs. The animator could crank the drum incrementally frame by frame while animating Angie driving in her car. The camera POV (from the rear passenger’s seat) added a sense of the viewer riding along inside the car while the road travel underneath – joining Angie on her journey to stop smoking.

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The spots continue to air exclusively in Minnesota, but are also viewable online.

More photos:

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Credits:

PRODUCTION

Production Company: HouseSpecial

Director: Aaron Sorenson

Executive Producer: Jan Johnson

Producer: Jenny Grayson

Line Producer: Karly Chambers

Client Services: Megan Sweigert

ART DEPARTMENT

Art Director: Tracy Prescott

Production Designer: Ross Stewart

Character Designer: Aaron Sorenson

Storyboard Artist: Joe Merideth

CEL

Mac Graphics Artist: Jenny Kincade

Intern Concept Artist: Kristy Kay-Jones

Intern Concept Artist: Joyce Lee

Intern Concept Artist: Michelle Lin

Intern Concept Artist: Manddy Wyckens

FABRICATION

Art Department Lead (Fabrication): Katie Mello

Art Department Coordinator: Beth Lipson

Sculptor: Julianna Cox, Tony Merrithew, Lyla Warren

Armaturist: Sarah Hall

Moldmaking / Cast and Clean: Katie Mello, Matt McKenna

Cast and Clean: Sarah Frechette

Costumer: Margaret Meyer

Puppet Painter: Jessica Bronk

Puppet Painter: Sara Neiman

Model Builder: Greg Boettcher, Mattie Bowden, Matt Burlingame, Paul Mack, Scott Tebeau

Carpenter: Gary Logue, Rob Melchior, Matt Perna

Greens: Ans Eills

Set/Model Painter: Jessica Bronk, Brian Capati, Leigh Jacob, Christina Owen

Laser Operator: Daniel Strong

Wrangler: Rob Melchior, Morgan Muta

Intern Fabrication: Lisa Chung, Emma Van Halsema

CG

Technical Director: Patrick Van Pelt

FX Artist: Patrick Van Pelt

STAGE

Director of Photography: John Nolan

Animator: Julianna Cox, Wendy Fuller, Chris Ohlgren

Motion Control: Josh Livingston

Grip: Clay Connally, Jake Hauswirth

Rigging: Sarah Hall

Stage Manager: Erica Johnson

Production Assistant: Anna Rose Williams

EDITORIAL

Editor: Michael Corrigan, Cam Williams

Smoke Artist: Leif Peterson

Flame Artist: Rex Carter

Tape Op: Dino Coons

Scheduler: Cam Williams

OUTSIDE EDITORIAL/POST PRODUCTION

Company: Limbocker Studios

City, State: Portland, OR

Sound Design/Mix: Lance Limbocker

Arranger: Lance Limbocker

AGENCY

Company: Clarity Coverdale Fury

City, State: Minneapolis, MN

V.P./Executive Creative Director: Jac Coverdale

Associate Creative Director/Art Director: Emily Hoyne

Senior Copywriter: Ian Simpson

Associate Director of Brand Development: Molly Hull

Senior Project Manager: Amy Fox

Agency Producer: Jenee Schmidt

CLIENT

Company: ClearWay Minnesota

City, State: Bloomington, MN

Vice President: Andrea Mowery

Dir. Of Marketing & Communications: Marietta Dreher

Senior Communications Manager: Michael Sheldon