I recently had a chance to sit down with director Georgia Tribuiani and thumb through some of her personal art collection while the two of us spoke. I was interested in learning more about one project in particular and how it came about: an animated history of the Burt’s Bees company that Georgia directed for Psyop, appropriately titled “Brand History.” This spot stands out not only for the incredible depth of information it manages to communicate about the Burt’s Bees brand in two brisk minutes, but especially for the beautiful, hand-crafted visual language it employs. “Brand History” has a warm, friendly, homemade style that perfectly matches the boutique product at its core. It’s hard to see it and not imagine it being a joy to create, even knowing full well how much work goes into job like this. However, I was surprised to discover some rather stark, quiet inspiration behind the colorful final product.
How would you describe the look of “Brand History”?
Georgia: The spot is meant to look like a mix media art project that incorporates many different materials, from paper cutouts to painted canvas, photography, sculpture, and more. The different elements have different physical properties, giving the entire short a very tactile feeling, as if you could reach in and touch it and re-arrange the parts yourself. I feel it reflects the characters and the spirit of the brand as well. The imperfection in the animation. It’s all intentionally rough (like Burt). But has a feminine touch (like Roxanne).
Can you tell me about where you took visual inspiration for this project?
We were given archival pictures to use. Unfortunately they weren’t numerous enough to illustrate each and every moment of the story, but I still wanted to include them in the film. So instead of replacing them with illustrations I started looking at some collage work of artists that I love.
How did you pitch your vision to your teammates at Psyop?
I wanted to do something more on the artistic side, and yet with a sense of humor, so I collected examples of collages that incorporated diverse combinations of materials in a interesting way. I put together a mood board and then I started cutting out paper and did quick mock-ups to show to the team how the different material would work together. I wanted to express how we could use negative space or silhouettes by masking, subtracting or adding elements.
What kind of process goes into translating this collage style into animation?
We had to come up with creative ideas for each material. We decided to keep everything as practical as possible, so most of the paper cut outs are animated in stop motion and we added painterly and hand drawn animated elements in post. We previs’ed the animations for timing and to have an idea of how many frames we would need to cut out. Imperfections were part of the flavor of the look, so we knew that the process was going to be very forgiving.