Boutique production studio Little Moving Pictures approached us about bringing a young boy's toys to life for an explainer spot for Hoka's new Arahi shoe. Julian Frost of Dumb Ways to Die fame would be creating the 2D cel-style animation and Athena Studios would create several cows as well as rig and animate other toys and objects for the stop-motion sequences.
Given the budget and time constraints for the project we decided to create the cows out of clay with wood and wire based. While not as easy to animate it significantly shortened the time to make the cows. We created a reference library of cows and other creature images to draw inspiration from, eventually deciding to go with a cartoonish rather than realistic approach.
Once LMP had approved the design of the cows and the other toys and objects that our cows would need to interact with were selected sat down to creating three Claymation cows to the proper scale. We also had to make four small Hoka tennis shoes for one of the cows to wear as it entered screen. We explored a number of different ways for our cows to speak and eventually opted for the simplicity of replacement mouths.
Wide Shot of Animating Room
HOKA behind the scenes
We also rigged a toy robot and alien for animation. Adding wires into the cape and stiffening joints so that they could be posed while shooting.
We had only one day to shoot all of the sequences and the shoot was at another studio which was not equipped for stop-motion. We created 'crash' kits to fix any problems that might occur on set and loaded up two Dragonframe stop-motion animation setups. We also brought two great animators, a lighting cinematographer and someone to solve on set issues with the cows and other animated toys. Little Moving Pictures provided the rest of the crew.
It was a grueling 16 hour shoot-day, but the team at LMP was very supportive during the entire process. The animators and production team pulled off two wonderful-looking stop–motion sequences for the spot.