Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

NERD’s Animation Guru Volstok on Producing Animated TVC during a Pandemic

London, UK
Thijs De Cloedt and Wouter Sel formed ‘Volstok’ ten years ago
Volstok excel in character driven animation and colourful motion design, powerful animations and concepts - from 2D to Cel animation, motion design, character design, 2D compositing, script writing and storyboarding. Volstok encapsulates a charmingly weird visual humour, and they have created commercials and films for Coca Cola, Securitas, House of Holland, Rice Dream, Diederik, as well as series for television broadcasters. Here they discuss the production of animated TVC during lockdown.

We are not silencing ourselves in adversity, our voice amplifies with relatable content – NERD’s talents have proven that time and time again, and Volstok are no different. Although there’s a pandemic outside and we are all working from home, it has not interrupted the way we are connecting with audiences. Due to our international talent we have always crafted in a flexible approach. Yes, we have had to adapt here and there, but we are constantly supporting clients and agencies to push their messages out there.

How did you and the team build this campaign remotely?

Our deadline was very tight and we suggested that we put the focus on the look and feel first, before balancing it out with the animation, so we could work as efficiently and effectively as possible. An initial sketch round from our team gave the agency a good idea of the possibilities and we locked the illustration style pretty quickly. But to be honest, the thing I have missed the most is the interaction we have as a team.

Once we’ve had approval for the key scenes, we immediately divided the work between the animators with best skills set for this style, who were based in different locations. We always carefully select the crew based on their level, skills, and how they would supplement our creative approach. Once we had seen the first rough passes of the hand-drawn animation, we were ready to start compositing it all together and constantly updating until the final version.

The key to successfully producing great animation, under those circumstances or any circumstance really, is working with an agency that trusts your expertise and respects your creative voice. It allows us all to do our best creative work. Collaboration and trust is the key!

What brands are most suited to using animation?
Animation is a really powerful visual language that can stimulate emotions in the blink of an eye. That is why I think, it is perfect for any brand that wants to convey emotions. It is a great way to communicate with audiences on a more personal level and stay in their minds longer, because, animation makes a long-lasting impression on people’s minds. Finally, it helps brands show their unique perspective and personality in the simplest ways – even on the most complex messages, they want to put out there.

What should brands consider before commissioning for an animation?

It’s an adventure - animation productions are living and breathing creatures. Sometimes you lead the film, sometimes the film leads you. There is no waterproof formula, so you might get wet, but oh boy, it is worth it! That doesn’t mean we aren’t in control, but we need to be creative during the entire process. Because every frame needs to be created from scratch. And I know that sounds like torture to some people, but to us animation NERDs it’s a truly extraordinary feeling seeing it all come together and creating something from nothing.
What can you achieve through the means of animation?

This might sound cliché, but there are no limitations in storytelling with animation. In fact, animation has a unique advantage of getting people in 'the state of feeling' by constructing a magical language that is able to connect on a different level than live-action film does. Not only because it taps directly into your imagination, but also because you are instantly immersed in the visual world. Together with the element of time, it draws you into whimsical worlds, each with their own unique rules, all with the purpose of evoking raw sentiment. If you get the chills, or experience that one feeling from your childhood, that means it is doing its job!
How long did this project take you to create?
From briefing to airing on TV, it took us exactly seven days and nights. These times ask for extraordinary efforts, and we were glad to help our clients out in sharing this extremely valuable message with the world.

Click here to view Volstok’s portfolio.
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