NEW YORK "Rubberband Man" isn't the first character that would spring to mind for a retro stop-animation holiday spot, but he's the star of OfficeMax's new ad created by DDB, which broke this week and resembles the year-end specials of the 1950s.
The Chicago agency's 60-second spot shows the character delivering supplies to a village of people in a tongue-and-cheek manner, e.g., a woman with a fruitcake is given a trashcan; a tremulous ice skater gets a chair to fall back on; and a man slicing a Christmas ham receives a paper cutter.
To create the realistic stop-motion animated figure, Bent Image Lab in Portland, Ore., worked through 13 different incarnations, based on sketches and a clay sculpture of actor Eddie Steeples' head, before coming up with just the right look for the puppet, which has a urethane body and a latex head and arms.
It took five weeks to shoot the spot on film at 24 frames per second.
"Very little of what we did differed that much from what they might have done 40 or 50 years ago," said Chel White, director of the commercial and BIL co-founder.
The company worked to get the grainiest film possible and tried not to rely on post-production effects too much.
"The hardest part was just nailing the look that I was after in every way, every detail," White said. "I wanted it to feel like if someone told you this was an animated commercial from the early '60s, you would buy it, just in terms of the look."
DDB group creative director Don Pogany praised the animators' work.
"They got the actor, his mannerisms and pieces of his personality," Pogany said. "They brought the puppet characters to life."