Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Aardman: Wallace & Gromit "Smartpower" (npower 2010)

One of the UK’s largest power companies, npower, knows what it about and uses that great British institution Wallace & Gromit in their advertising. The latest ad, Smartpower, has the intrepid pair notably more tepid as they watch Revenge of the Killer Watts on their wide-screen TV complex, not to be confused with the multi screens at a cinema near you. Aardman technology is not Odeon. Oil paintings follow Gromit with their eyes and looming shadows terrify but there’s a new W&G character, Penny from npower, to calm nerves and offer a free smartpower electricity monitor, the results of which are genuinely terrifying for Wallace. All the usual gadgets, humour and a warmth of character that no meter can measure. Plus there are Eco friendly prizes and unique W&G claymation models to be won in their competition, the link to which has widescreen versions of the previous classy ads in an unfailingly entertaining campaign. Finally, ten fun facts from Aardman:

1. The commercial took four weeks to shoot

2. This is the first time Aardman has animated the new Penny character – who is a call centre operator for npower

3. The material on TV was added after the character animation in the post production stage although it was shot at the same time as the rest of the commercial. It features a haunted house built from foam core, an animatable door that slams open in the "we’ve created a monster" shot, and extra gravestones and trees for the foreground

4. The flying bats in the opening shots were produced by one of our 2D artists and were then added to the TV footage

5. The opening shot of Wallace & Gromit watching the TV was created using 10 layers or plates, which were then combined in post production to create the finished sequence. The plates included the character animation pass plus various plates for different elements, the lamp in the foreground (which features sheep as a reference to the previous npower commercial "Insheepsulation"), and various lighting plates to create flicker from the TVs

6. The smart energy monitor was designed to make it fit into Wallace & Gromit’s world. The real monitor looks very modern so we had to "Wallace-ify" it by making it look metallic with rivets.

7. Aardman used 31 TV’s in the commercial that took a day to rig into position. Some of them had miniature lights built into them which helped them look more like working televisions

8. Gromit’s shadow as he walks toward Wallace with the smart energy monitor is in homage to Nosferatu

9. In preparation for the shoot Wallace was given a full makeover - his trousers were fixed, his tank-top repainted and he was also given clean teeth and new eyes. Gromit was also given a new nose and eyes

10. The commercial is the first to feature the new npower logo

The guys should’ve won an Oscar. To think all that logooood carnage beat them.

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