Ben&Julia explain their plastic fantastic Dove Nets promo

French-Swiss creative team Ben&Julia transport the viewer directly to a Bagpuss-era toybox for their latest project, a technicoloured promo for The Main Drag's single Dove Nets.

While much of the promo features stuffed toys and bizarre plasticine models that resemble tiny totem poles animated in stop-motion, some elements are seemingly cel-animated over the top. The end result is bright, enigmatic and rather mad.

Ben&Julia explained how they made the promo:

DA: What was the brief for the project?
B&J: The brief was clear - 'unleash the beast'. The Main Drag really trusted us and left us free to do whatever we wanted.

DA: Who/what influenced the look and feel of the piece?
B&J: Actually, we write treatments as we would write a script. For this one, we tried to mix three parallel stories into one. We had this concept of a character with a strong collecting obsession and we came out with the idea of the mouse who’s obsessed with doves. We also loved the idea of books telling stories without having to be opened and read.

Another important subject is metamorphosis - the kind that Ovid spoke about, something that’s based in physical transformation like in the mythology rather than in a new vision or version of oneself.

We are mostly inspired by our travels, dreams, childhood memories, and TV shows.

As an example, for this video, Téléchat – a French TV show from the 1980s created by Roland Topor, was an important inspiration. Jim Henson’s The Storyteller is also one of our favourites.

We were also strongly influenced by the city of Berlin where we live and work now and which has this special atmosphere that we tried to transcribe in the video.

DA: Can you describe the look and feel you were going for?
B&J: We try to tell stories and create universes where different kinds of characters can coexist and also fit visually.
To avoid the question of what kind of reality the spectator is in front of, we mix different artistic techniques. At the end, what you experienced is not live footage, neither cartoon, 3D nor stop-motion animation - it’s a story.

It’s a sequence of images that reminds you feelings, ideas or shows you some paths you never take because it’s not consensual.

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DA: What animation techniques did you use?
B&J: We did puppetry, cartoon, 2D and 3D CG animation - a big mix of techniques.

DA: Did you use existing toys or did you have to design your own?
B&J: Sometimes we customise existing objects but we generally design and create everything, that’s also part of our approach, we like to develop our own look and style. We tried to develop the theme of duality through the entire video and you may see it also in characters designs, the double head dove is a good example.

Otherwise lots of our ideas came from sketches, researches and discussions with each other.


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