Developed by Passion Animation Studios, and supermarket chain Sainsbury’s; a new Christmas advertisement entitled “The Greatest Gift” is trending to be one of the most popular ads from major retailers this year, with over 12.5 million views on YouTube already. This incredible stop motion commercial was developed using stop motion animation, bolstered by the versatility of 3D printing. Featuring the vocal talents of late night talk show host James Corden, and helmed by Sam Fell, this touching work of animation is painstakingly created piece by piece.
Fell stated that “When I started, you could use clay or sculpt plasticine under a camera or you could build mechanisms within the faces. As charming as they are, both of them have some limitations,” said Fell. “You can’t quite get the range of expressions you want to get to bring the character alive.” To add a variety of facial expressions, complex features and more intensity into the characteristics of the figurines, Fell and his team utilized 3D printing technology to create figures layer by layer. Fell explained that the precision of 3D printing allowed the team to create figurines and puppets with diversity and unique characteristics.
“So, what we did was use this new method and technology called rapid prototype 3D printing. So with Dave (one of the main characters of the stop frame film), we probably made around 800 different expressions for him in a computer,” said Fell. Almost immediately after the 3D scanning tool finalized the proportions, a 3D printer was able to print out rapid prototypes or, in this particular case, the final product within a matter of minutes. Through 3D printing, the team led by Fell was able to produce hundreds of different emotions per every character, which would have been impossible with traditional manufacturing methods.
The difficulty in hand crafting these emotions goes beyond time consumption. Sculptures have a limit of expressions and variety of characters they can envision. Thus, it will be nonviable to create facial expressions based on the sculptor’s imagination. With 3D scanning software in place, the entire team was able to weigh in on the development of characters, without having to place the burden on the sculptors. You can check out the behind the scenes video below.