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A human-sized family of socks actually got the train for Joseph Mann’s live action TransPennine Express ad

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Joseph Mann and Engine: Get Together for Transpennine Express

Blinkink filmmaker Joseph Mann has a knack for bringing everyday objects unexpectedly and energetically to life – from the Cravendale Biscuit Boy to an overexcited egg cup in the brilliant Anchor Butter the Mood ad. This time he’s returned to anthropomorphising a group of everyday objects for an ad for TransPennine Express, created by agency Engine.

The Get Together film sees a motley group of items, from a seaside bucket and a family of socks to a paintbrush and a set of bagpipes, travelling on the train to reunite with loved ones. Warm and fuzzy in content and physicality, the whole ad is made using 21 human-sized puppets, filmed across four days on a real train. They were brought to life in camera using live action puppetry techniques, including puppeteers in green screen suits – which can be spotted in slightly unnerving behind-the-scenes shots (below).

The agency set out to create a charming and relatable ad, and enlisted Mann to create a diverse group of characters that everyone could recognise. The filmmaker says he felt the original idea was something people “could really connect with” so developed a story that people could relate to their own lives and families “even though the characters are not human beings”. To this end, every moment in the story is instantly familiar to anyone who’s sat on a long train journey home, from the awkward snoozing to the wailing baby (in this case a baby sock) and the clicking of laptop keys.

The characters themselves are simple, ubiquitous objects that work in pairs: a bucket and spade, a paint brush and paint pot, a family of socks. “The challenge I faced was turning the everyday mundane into a world of unique and characterful individuals,” Mann explains. “Everything was made from scratch. We used things like broom bristles for paint bristles and most of the characters were wrapped in tactile fabrics to give them a charming hand-made feel.”

The ad is out now, voiced by an all-star cast including Ross Noble, Jane Horrocks, Ricky Tomlinson, Ashley Jensen, Jo Hartley, Julie Walters and Chris Massey.

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Joseph Mann and Engine: Get Together for Transpennine Express

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Joseph Mann and Engine: Get Together for Transpennine Express

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Joseph Mann and Engine: Get Together for Transpennine Express

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Joseph Mann and Engine: Get Together for Transpennine Express

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Joseph Mann and Engine: Get Together for Transpennine Express