Work / Animation

A look behind the scenes at the making of Nicolas Ménard’s stop-motion ad for Corona

Director and graphic artist Nicolas Ménard has done it again. And this time it comes in the form of a one-minute stop-motion animation, shot entirely in-camera featuring hundreds of miniatures for Mexican beer brand Corona. Arguably one of Mexico’s most recognisable brands, the film is narrated by Gael García Bernal and shows how Corona is intertwined in Mexico’s history.

Back in December, agency Observatory reached out to Nexus Studios to pitch on a campaign for Corona. Although open to interpretations, it asked for a 60s-style animated TV spot, which had to be inspired by – but not exactly like – the work of iconic Mexican artist Pedro Friedeberg. Seeing similarities between Pedro’s work and its very own Nicolas, Nexus Studios passed the job to him.

Nicolas’ job was then to distill the information that was being thrown at him; Pedro’s humungous body of work includes sculpture, furniture, paintings, murals and more. “Pedro’s love for painting rooms gave me the idea of illustrating our chapters using dioramas, and the physicality of his work led to the idea of a stop-frame animation,” he tells It’s Nice That.

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

In order to produce the short, Nicolas shot the chapters separately, opting for a “rather cinematic look to soften the hard-edges of Pedro’s patterns”. This meant creating a staggering (and intimidating) amount of props and characters. “There are hundreds of handmade miniatures dressing the sets,” he explains, “including 71 characters, 350 replicas of Corona’s iconic transparent bottle (hand blown in glass and filled with agave syrup), four Corona caravans, four sun faces to make its lips move, and an insane amount of miscellaneous props.”

As you’d imagine, a project of this scale required a mammoth-sized team to tackle it. With over 120 people involved altogether, Nicolas names a few key players. Nico Domerego was the studio lead at Nexus Studios, crafting a precise animatic “that was crucial to the success of the job”. From Nicolas’ sketches for the design of each room, art director Jack Cunningham created beautifully drawn artworks. “Working with Jack was fantastic; it was a real design ping pong game,” Nicolas adds.

Callum Stachan translated a lot of the design work in 3D – “I have fond memories of weekends spent carefully selecting Pantones with Jack and realising on Monday that it didn’t work at all in a render!” And illustrator “extraordinaire” James Graham was the character designer. From here, artworks and 3D models were sent to Andy Gent’s acclaimed model-making studio Arch Model Studio. Finally, it was Bridget Samuels who composed all the accompanying music, with an orchestra of over 50 people!

The result is a dynamic and dramatic short which places an emphasis on craft and the process of animation. Scenes sweep effortlessly between each other, only bolstering Gael’s uplifting narration. Not only a testament to the hard work that goes into making such a slick stop-motion, it proves how powerful the results can be when brands utilise creative media to their full.

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona

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Nicolas Ménard at Nexus Studios: Corona