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Behind the scenes of Fred & Eric's TV spot for 4seven

When design and animation agency Fred & Eric were given an open brief for the creation of a competition spot on UK TV channel 4seven, they decided to try their hand at shooting some live-action puppetry.

"A short deadline - two weeks - was definitely a deciding factor in how we tackled producing this piece," explains creative director Maggie Rogers. "Normally our shoots are based around handmade objects, which we bring to life with stop-frame animation. But in this case making a cast of models and shooting stop-frame would have been tricky in the time. Shooting live-action using a puppetry approach seemed like a good alternative. It's also a style we've always wanted to try our hand at; controlling the objects on strings and sticks in real time.

"As much as we love stop-frame, it was amazing to have this energetic and instantaneous shoot where one take gave us the final piece in 20 seconds."

Watch this! Behind the scenes at the 4seven spot shoot:

The aim of the spot was to engage the audience with the competition. A script was provided by Channel 4, which was used as the voiceover, and a team of model-makers made the 3D models and the sliding set using paper, cardboard, wooden dowling, magnets, and a lot of glue.

The idea was to keep a few of the human imperfections in the final take to keep the right balance between the handmade and polished look, as Rogers explains: "These little wobbles were important in keeping the handmade feel, which has so much charm."

This showcase was originally published in Computer Arts issue 206.

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Which is best: live-action puppetry or stop-motion animation? There's only one way to find out... tell us in the comments below!

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