A child’s perspective; it is an unparalleled thing consisting of endless adventure, growing mystery, and voices found within the nooks and crannies of just about anything. There is no question about it: the world inside a child’s mind is magic. For some, that drifts away with the enduring years, but for others, such as Psyop Director Lauren Indovina, that world only sharpens with their craft. We recently had a conversation with the visionary at the helm of British Gas’ latest spot, ‘No Place Like Home’ and got some insight into how one turns the feeling of being at home into a full-fledged world brimming with poignant gardens, furry little animal families, and heart-warming themes.
“As children, we fantasize that little fluffy woodland creatures in our world live in incredibly cozy homes. We anthropomorphize them to become these super creative small humans, thrifty in fact, justifying along the way that things we leave in the grass or the woods now have incredibly cool uses for our fellow creature dwellers. I’m prone to injecting my imagination into the miniature world of my backyard, so collaborating with like minded colleagues to bring these tiny worlds to life was a treat.”
Touching on what brought Psyop and British Gas together for such a whimsical collaboration, Indovina notes that it was in 2011 when we teamed up with CHI in their ‘Planet Home’ storytelling campaign. “Through the years, our collaboration has evolved the style and techniques used to tell the stories of British Gas consumers. For Psyop, a company brimming with prolific character designers and animators, we were ecstatic to help CHI launch this new, marvelous narrative.”
A good deal of the successes in bringing this storybook-esque spot to fruition rested in two main components: collaboration and attention to detail; which is exactly why Psyop was the group for the job. “Psyop’s process has always been collaborative and this spirited process brings our animated worlds to life. Great storytelling is filled with meaning in every detail. In other words, it’s encouraged that everyone on the team has authorship and brings to the table their own point of view and imagination.” Of course, you can’t have strong storytelling without well-developed characters to go along with it. The Psyop team decided to settle on a universally known, yet nearly impossible to overdo, theme. “We really envisioned this new cast of characters to feel familial, charming, and ownable to the British Gas brand. Naturally we turned to classic fairy tale structure. The structure of a fairy tale is really in the simplicity and meaningful, clever design.”
Before every triumph however, there are often struggles preceding. Character design and style proved to be no different when faced with the dilemma of finding that happy balance between believable reality, and enchanting fantasy. “One challenge was to develop a look for our characters which was both tactile and real. We wanted the viewer to feel like you could reach out and touch this world. It was a quick turnaround for the amount of work we set ourselves up to do.” No challenge is ever too out of reach for Team Psyop however, as Indovina considers the balance found in directing and being a part of a larger whole.
“As a director, I’m nothing without the amazing support and talent of the team. In short, I would say ‘this, this, this’ but then–I’m not even kidding, and this happens a lot at Psyop–I look at what our artists have done and I think, ‘Man, who am I to comment? This is ridiculous. This is just really freaking amazing stuff. Keep going guys. I’ll be a little OCD about some things, but you guys do you.” Adding onto the noted difficulties in accomplishing the desired look and feel of the piece, she mentions that her creative background continuously plays a part in her approach. “I come from a film and design background, so I geek out forever about look and feel, tone, and emotional response. The nuance of this animation makes my heart happy. It turned out sweet and sort of sassy. The tiny hands, the little expressions and detail. It just kills me.”
When asked about what’s up next in terms of the connection between Psyop and British Gas, Indovina confidently states: “I really hope we can continue to play in this world and give these characters more narratives, similar to Psyop’s collaboration with Coke on the ‘Happiness Factory’ films. We’re really excited and proud of our relationship with CHI and Partners. This is only the beginning. Look out for our next collaboration in the Fall.”