By Alise Munson
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.
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.
Some of the puppets were also built as clay miniatures to support the forced perspective of distance as Angie drives away.
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.
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.”
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.
The spots continue to air exclusively in Minnesota, but are also viewable online.
Production Company: HouseSpecial
Director: Aaron Sorenson
Executive Producer: Jan Johnson
Producer: Jenny Grayson
Line Producer: Karly Chambers
Client Services: Megan Sweigert
Art Director: Tracy Prescott
Production Designer: Ross Stewart
Character Designer: Aaron Sorenson
Storyboard Artist: Joe Merideth
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
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
Technical Director: Patrick Van Pelt
FX Artist: Patrick Van Pelt
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
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
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
Company: ClearWay Minnesota
City, State: Bloomington, MN
Vice President: Andrea Mowery
Dir. Of Marketing & Communications: Marietta Dreher
Senior Communications Manager: Michael Sheldon