Serif in Education

Bringing the world alive with computer generated animations

Whilst we were all enjoying our six week school holidays last summer, the creators of the John Lewis Christmas adverts were busy filming and putting together the infamous “Monty the penguin” TV advert which was aired in November 2014.

The John Lewis adverts, despite being on our screens for less than a decade (they didn’t advertise on television until 2007), are the ultimate in clever seasonal advertising which pulls at the heart strings, and really does sell the connotation and idea of love at Christmas time.

For those of you who missed the latest ad (you may have just disappeared to a far off planet), Monty the penguin was the star of the 2014 campaign, costing £1million to make and a further £6million on the ongoing marketing campaign in stores and online, totalling £7million.

The plot revolved around Sam - a cute little boy who has an even more adorable penguin friend, Monty. Despite being inseparable, Monty is sad because he wants a “special friend”. So on Christmas Day, Sam gives Monty the gift he has been dreaming of, a new penguin friend called Mabel.

As the nation wiped away tears, we turned our attention to Monty, and what makes him so adorable and loveable as a character.

Monty in fact, is a computer generated image of a penguin (CGI), made by computer graphics. CGI’s are often used to create images in art, printed media, video games and commercials, and are also used to create special effects. In more recent years, the use of packages such as the Serif Design Suite, allow both beginners and fairly competent users of graphic technology to create these types of images or scenes and interactive environments.  Because of the nature and believability of the images, they are very lifelike, and can create emotions as if the object was a real thing.

Computer generated animations are more controllable than other more physically based processes, such as constructing miniatures for effects shots, but despite this, (and despite getting some criticism from the press and audiences) our favourite of their ads has to be the previous year.  The special  woodland scene, created by using a series of still models which were meticulously moved and shot by camera to create the scenes, was captivating and truly magical. That advert alone was credited with helping John Lewis boost its sales by 6.9 per cent on the previous year.

You can see exactly how they made the commercial here by watching their production video:

There are various types of software you can use in conjunction with our Design Suite’s MoviePlus to help with your computer generated animation. Or why not try and create animations in DrawPlus using the quick shapes tool – triangles are a good way to start creating animations and images of scenery, such as hills and mountains as a backdrop for example.

Let us know what you think on our Twitter page @SerifEducation.