Tone is an endearingly charming animated spot for the charity Sing Up, which encourages children to get involved with music and song. The ad can be seen in cinemas from October 24 to December 4, including being shown before High School Musical 3. We spoke to director Steve Small and producer Sharon Titmarsh about the project.

The spot can be seen here.

DA: How did you come to work on the project?

ST: The studio was approached by AMV BBDO London to submit some pitch designs based on their script and reference material. Three directors at the studio pitched against other production companies, and the agency and client were won over with Steve’s characters which were simple in design, but also expressive and characterful.

DA: What was the brief?

SS: Initially we were presented with the script which was followed by a conference call and meetings with the creative team to discuss the project. The idea was always to keep the backgrounds sparse, the story engaging but with emphasis on good character performances.


DA: How did you come up with the ideas of how to execute this?

SS: The agency had approached us with a good, simple script and was keen to have a hand-drawn and organic feel to the animation. It was tempting to get back into 2D for a while, but we had a short schedule and needed flexibility to refine ideas as we went along, so CG seemed a safer route.

DA: How did you turn these ideas into the final spots?

SS: We locked the script down with storyboards very early on and edited a rough guide track straight away, which meant we could work to final sound and make a case for keeping the ideas simple. We went straight into animation with a team of animators and started experimenting with hand drawn scribbled textures with our fearless CG department and eventually came up with a technique for projecting these textures convincingly on our models. Once the animation was done, we projected a further layer of hand-drawn animation for the mouths which needed to behave as unpredictably as the textures, and tied up the final bundle with some time in after effects.