The legendary directing collective reveals the secrets of their flower-powered film
You don’t have to be a morning person to appreciate the impact of the new Radox spot from WCRS – the stop motion commercial depicts the transformative effects of an early shower with enough energy to convince the most committed night owl. Directing team Shynola couldn’t resist the challenge of piecing together a giant animation using nothing but fresh flowers and berries, and had a few late nights themselves as they worked on this painstaking project. Despite the hard work, the finished ad bounces along effortlessly. We caught up with them to find out how they did it.
LBB> What was the initial brief like from the agency and why did it catch your attention?
S> The brief pretty much describes the final ad. All we needed to do was the choreography. We really enjoy the formal challenge of stop motion animation as we don't often get the chance to do it. We also liked the simplicity of the idea: a woman wakes up, has a shower with Radox - where she is energised and transformed into the fresh flowers and berries that go into the bottle. We had also just finished our Japanese Hulu ad and were keen to work with everyone at post house Realise Studio again, so we hoped we could tempt them in to help with production.
LBB> What was the pre-production process like?
S> Pre-production was quite slow. It was weighted to give us an unusually long lead time. We had to create and finish the ad using hand-drawn animation before we could start production proper because once we were underway we would not be able to change the edit or move the girl around.
LBB> The dance moves are well-observed, depicting an average lady dancing about, having fun rather than a professional dancer. How did you choreograph that? Did you film someone dancing first or go straight to the animation phase?
S> We did film someone dancing. We could have animated her ourselves, but we needed to the dancer to add the "human-ness" that tracing from life brings. People recognise real human movement - and we needed that recognition so that the shape of the woman was never lost in the jumble of flowers. However we changed her dance so much she probably doesn't recognise herself on the ad. We sliced up and rearranged the frames in order to do exactly what we needed.
The dancer was asked to dance in a few different ways, from exuberant professional dance to subdued showering shuffle. We cut up the dances into individual movements and then stitched them together with hand animation. The new ‘Franken-dance’ was down to earth but joyful - and bigger when it needed to be.
LBB> In terms of the animation, what materials did you use? Fresh flowers and seeds or models?
S> We used fresh Flowers, berries, leaves, nuts, and more. There were a lot of flowers left over after the various shoots. Even the cabbie who drove us home got a huge bunch.
LBB> Where did the shoot take place and what were the key challenges that you faced?
S> There were several shoots. One in Tuscany, to get the landscape, and the rest were studio shoots back home. Key challenges? For a start, creating stop frame animation on this scale was pretty challenging. It was also tricky to work out how long the shoots would take - we had no idea if we'd have to be working through the night or not. We weren't sure if each frame would take 5 minutes or 50 minutes, so that left a huge margin for error. And finally, we had to make sure that everything was still readable when it was made out of flowers and leaves.
We managed to overcome the first challenge – the scale of the project - in our normal way. We were very, very, very prepared and left nothing to chance. As for the second challenge, we just had to work through, come what may. Luckily most shots were closer to ten minutes per frame, depending on how much movement there was in the shot. The third challenge was a strange one - we definitely want to see the woman and the Radox bottles all the way through, but as for the other elements in the film we just trusted that all of our preparation would make it work. When a gardener creates little scenes using flowers, he doesn't always get everything right, so we were fine with small errors.
LBB> The Little Comets track, Dancing Song, is great – why did you choose it and what do you think it brings to the finished film?
S> The music had to be something you would actually dance to in the shower. The Little Comets track is infectious and fitted the choreography perfectly. Apparently Twitter has gone crazy asking for the name of the track, so hopefully the ad will help them chart.