At Magnetic Dreams, we've had the chance to work on a number of Sesame Street spots in the past including one-off parodies like BIRDWALK EMPIRE and recurring segments like COOKIE'S CRUMBY PICTURES, SUPER GROVER 2.0, and ELMO THE MUSICAL. Most often, we're creating 3D computer-generated worlds and characters to populate around Muppet performances shot on green screen. But, with ELMO'S CHRISTMAS DREAM, we had the great opportunity to re-imagine the characters for 2D animation.
The spot is a music video greeting card of Elmo and friends celebrating the holiday. I conceived of a somewhat hand-crafted aesthetic of cut shapes and oil crayon with graphic patterning introduced as the character textures. This approach allowed me to play to my love of Mary Blair and Maurice Noble and the final animated product is 2D After Effects puppeting much like that we used on BLUE'S CLUES. I think we were able to make some magic with an incredibly short turnaround and create something lively and quick.
This was an all-hands-on-deck-the halls way for us to end the year with an incredible crew: Creative Director Rickey Boyd co-directed with me while also boarding it and overseeing animation (it was also his idea to do those character-themed snowflakes). Abdel Pizzarro rigged these guys and he and Kimberly Cranfield animated the leads. Rhea Borzak animated the secondary characters and heads up the comp department of Judd Eschliman and Joel Gibbs on effects. And, producer and john-of-all-trades John Hamm was crucial in bringing it all together and making it happen even as he reminded us it was impossible.
Here's a closer look at my character and background art. Ernie in his full snowsuit still puts a grin on my face.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, your friends, and family!