Creative in association withGear Seven
Blue Zoo's Cheeky Singing Elves Share a Lesson on Christmas Consumption
London, UK
Blue Zoo creates comedy animation with some naughty little elves for the Christmas instalment of its in-house ‘shorts’ series

Santa’s workshop sweatshop is in full swing in Blue Zoo’s new short. St Nick’s cheeky little elves tell us what they think of our greedy Christmas consumption by singing about what the holidays really mean to most of us… more stuff! From selfie sticks to minion merchandise, it all becomes too much to handle so the elves decide it’s time to let loose and give us a whole new perspective on the words Christmas junk…

Blue Zoo’s shorts programme, now in its fourth year, seeks to provide a creative platform for the whole company to showcase their talents in a non-commercial space. Last year the team created the gory, stomach-exploding animation, Daddy Christmas. To kick off this year’s brief, Blue Zoo Co-Founder and Head of the short film programme, Tom Box, commissioned musical comedian, Ben Champion, to write and produce a song to parody an animated musical.

Tom explains: “We wanted to take this year’s short in a very different direction to last year’s, so for 2015 we thought we’d create a festive slice of pure silliness, a bit of light hearted relief from the bombardment of advertising at Christmas. Our brief to Ben [Champion] was to try and capture the over-commercialisation of Christmas and first world elf problems - to be sung by a cast of elves! Stylistically, we were very much inspired by our love of Disney movies and Muppets show tunes.”

Four final treatments were submitted by members of the Blue Zoo team for the project this year and were pitched in person to the entire studio. It was Simone Giampaolo and Joe Kinch’s cheeky characters that won the hearts of the Blue Zoo team.

Co-director, Joe Kinch, comments: “I'm a big fan of edgy unpredictable humour (like Monty Python and Sacha Baron Cohen). So when Blue-Zoo announced the brief about a Christmas musical with singing elves, I thought - ‘How can we give this an unpredictable twist to surprise the audience and make them chuckle?’ 

“We also wanted the short to be as relatable to parents as it is to little kids, so finding the right balance was really key. We wanted to have nods to other franchises and to have a lot of fun playing with these little elves and seeing what they get up to in their workshop.”

The project started in mid-October and was completed in 11 weeks. The team looked to their favourite voice artists who could sing in elfish tones, including Youtube cartoon voice-impressionist Anna Brisbin (Brizzy).

Co-director and lead animator, Simone Giampaolo comments: “The animation took influence from two masters of traditionally animated comedy: Tex Avery and Genndy Tartakovsky. Our aim was to achieve the fluidity and snappiness typical of traditional animation, whilst giving it the friendly charm of a stop-motion animation. In terms of aesthetics our aim was to create very stylized characters with the tactile feel of a stop-motion puppet. So we gave them very simple body shapes and facial features and combined them with realistic materials (cloth, hair, skin, etc.).”

Full Credits:

A Blue Zoo Animation

Director: Simone Giampaolo & Joe Kinch

Music: Ben Champion

Voices: Anna Brisbin, Rasmus Hardiker, Steven Kynman, Teresa Gallagher

Animation Director: Bader Badruddin

Design: Joe Kinch

Digital Matte Painter: Izzy Burton

Lead Modeller: Pietro Licini

Modelling & Texturing: Pietro Licini, Tom Flavelle, Grace Culverwell, Paul Mitcheson, Maud Bourgeais, Timmy Wong, Hannah Wong, Clementine Delcourt, Stephen Edgerton

Look Dev: Tom Flavelle

Rigging: Elena Borla, Anthony Delliste

Lead Animator: Simone Giampaolo

Animators: Marc Godfrey, Bader Badruddin, Alessandra Rosso, Simon Taylor, Lizzie Hicks, Dane Winn, Alec Smith, Ben Steer, Daniel Cripps, Matt Tea

Additional Animation: Brieuc Guénolé

Zeina Masri, Margaux Couet, Birte Niedermeyer, Celia Prou

Lead Lighting TD: Tom Flavelle

Lighting TDs: Charlie Batho, Tom Martin Davies, Kate Gabriel, Emeric Renard, Leida Vincent, Yolande Clerke, Maud Bourgeais

Lead Compositor: Charlie Batho

Compositors: Debora Sangermano, Lisa Mandelli, Jessica Phelan 

Sound Engineer: Dom Boucher @ The Sound Company

Producer: Tom Box

Exec Producers: Adam Shaw, Damian Hook, Oli Hyatt MBE, Tom Box

Music / Sound
Work from Blue Zoo Animation
Sinking Feeling
Papyrus UK