Wieden + Kennedy and Noah Harris’ Sainsbury’s advert shows the spontaneity of stop motion
In its latest work for Sainsbury’s, Wieden + Kennedy utilise the magic power of stop motion with director Noah Harris.
- 11 September 2020
- Lucy Bourton
- Reading Time
- 3 minutes
In Wieden + Kennedy London’s newest spot for Sainsbury’s, director Noah Harris was set the task of “visualising the imagination that can go into making autumn food” as we begin to head into colder climes.
Set against a clean white background, the ad is a visual signifier of the chef’s mind dreaming up the evening’s dinner. The challenge therefore, was to use produce in a way that would create a “magical moment” in the kitchen. In turn, ingredients pop and disperse into the frame as Miriam Margolyes gets back into character as Professor Sprout, and voices a quick cooking spell over the advert, with thanks to original composition from Birdbrain.
Noah’s first shoot since the UK put in place stricter conditions on filming, there were a fair few challenges on set, “but it didn’t really impact too heavily on the creative process of shooting,” he tells It’s Nice That. Instead, difficulties came from self-imposed creative ideas, like how the team decided to only use fresh produce on set. “Sounds obvious but stop frame and fresh food are not entirely compatible bedfellows,” adds the director. “When you’re animating food under hot studio lights for hours… it’s tricky to keep it looking fresh,” working closely with food stylist Katie Giovanni to over come this.
When it came to the animation however there are several techniques used by Noah and his team, pushing each ingredient into its own character. The first sequence for instance, uses a technique previously explored in Noah’s film, Salvation, “where you use the velocity, scale and position of an object to magically transform it into another one, without any CG or in-between shapes,” he explains. “It’s simple but effective,” explaining how a swede morphs into a plate while a beetroot transforms into a leaning tower of fritters.
Elsewhere the director used multi-plane, a technique “where you shoot top down over layers of glass,” which allows the objects to appear “like they’re in the air, and you get a sense of depth,” explains Noah. Another shot, where a pear unravels in one satisfying peeled loop, was the result of a few days of research and development. Having to work out how to not only animate it, but also how to keep the pear looking perfectly fresh, “when you have carved away the flesh and cut the skin into a spiral… AND then make the spiral animatable,” it was finally achieved, but only via the “expertise of the art department working hand in hand with the food stylist.”
A favourite moment in the advert is when the joyfully biscuit-y part of a crumble literally rises up from the ground and into a wave, before plopping into a casserole dish. “The crumble wave… another one I wasn’t entirely sure how we were going to pull off…,” says Noah when asked how on earth it was created. By shooting a test, “which was crude but gave us a proof of concept,” Noah then set to work trying to, as he puts it, “get into the barrel of the wave.” The final edition of the wave was then made with a thin sheet of plastic at its centre, “which we were able to move through a plastic former to create that lovely arc.”
Which each of these tricks in mind, and now released into the world this week, Noah adds that it’s all these details that make the finished advert feel like an achievement. “I’m pretty happy with how it turned out in the end. It has the great magical imperfection you only get with stop frame… not too slick, and a feeling of spontaneity.”
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.