Johnny Kelly and Andy Gent Untangle “The Monster” for Back Market

Nexus director Johnny Kelly melds stop-motion, 2D facial animation, and the talents of UK puppetmaster Andy Gent into a message advocating conscious consumption for renewed devices marketplace Back Market.

Johnny Kelly: “The script was already very funny so my job was to not mess it up. The first challenge was the monster itself, and the creatives at Back Market were open to ideas about how it could look, generously giving us full license to go odd.

“Advertising is chockablock with furry monsters so wanted to create something that stood apart. Given that our monster is the embodiment of tech over-consumption, it made sense to make him out of tech itself. He started out as a pencil scribble with legs, then I did this initial sketch for the pitch [see below] and he didn’t change much since.

“Live-action puppetry felt like the right choice to capture the unstable energy our performance required. The way Andy Gent and his team fabricated him – with all sorts of loose cabling – means you immediately get lots of ‘free’ wobbly movement, compared to say CG or stop-motion animation.
 

“In order to do all the actions required, Monster needed a team of puppeteers. One to operate his eyes, another on his body and mouth, and one moving his arms.”

 
“This bubbling freneticism is an important part of his personality, so you feel like he might unravel at any moment, literally and figuratively. In order to accentuate this effect, Andy made each cable out of light silicone tubing, with handmade weighted plugs hanging on the ends.

“In order to do all the actions required, Monster needed a team of puppeteers. One to operate his eyes, another on his body and mouth, and one moving his arms. This immediately dictated the scale of the character as he needed to be big enough that three pairs of arms could get around him.

“The knock-on effect of this larger-than-expected-scale however, meant that his lair set would need to be gargantuan. Thankfully our technical leads at Nexus devised a system whereby we could create the background sets at 50% scale, shoot them separately and drop them in behind our monster performance in post-production.

“The production crew also hand-built 20+ puppets, including three versions of the Monster. We used photogrammetry to capture the sets, puppets, and props to help with previsualization and develop faster turnarounds for compositing – enabling the animation team to quickly visualize in a 3D space how the 2D animation will track onto the real-life puppet’s face.”
 
Back Market The Monster Johnny Kelly Nexus | STASH MAGAZINE

Back Market The Monster Johnny Kelly Nexus | STASH MAGAZINE

Back Market The Monster Johnny Kelly Nexus | STASH MAGAZINE

Back Market The Monster Johnny Kelly Nexus | STASH MAGAZINE

Back Market The Monster Johnny Kelly Nexus | STASH MAGAZINE
 
Client: Back Market
Co-Founder/CCO: Vianney Vaute
Strategic Advisor: Seth Farbman
Creative Director: Jeff Johnson, Steve Peck
Head of US Marketing: Woody Wright
EP: Melanie Baublis
Lead Art Director: Victor Antonelli
Head of Content: Eugena Ossi
Expert Copywriter: Adam Pasulka
Hannah Laloum: Creative Studio Manager

Production: Nexus Studios
Director: Johnny Kelly
Executive Producer: Josephine Gallagher, Camila de Biaggi
Senior Producer: Josephine Gallagher
Production Manager: Ruyi Meer
Production Assistant: Max Bigg
VFX Supervisor/Lead Compositor: Germán Diez
Studio CG Supervisor: Mark Davies
Editor: Dave Slade
Art Directors: Melanie Climent & Callum Strachan
Character Designer: James Noellert
2D Animator: Chris Cray, Joe Sparkes, Matt Partridge
Motion Graphics Animator: Bethany Levy, Abel Kohen
Compositor: Gareth Tredrea, Hugo Vieites Caamano, Sacha Danjou, Sander Saks, Victori Jalabert, Alexandre Gaudiano
Storyboards: Richard Buxton

Puppet/Set Build: Arch Model Studio
Sets/Puppets: Andy Gent
Set Build: Asylum
Set Supervisor: Peter Tilbe
Set Technician: Josh Guess, Tom Bull, Daniel Tynan
Live-Action & Puppetry:
Director of Photography: Matt Fox
1st AD: Robert Thorpe
Production Manager: Rhian Gwenlan
Runner: Kai Rajakulasingam
2nd AC: Rosamund Freeman
Grip: Kevin Foy
DIT: Phoebe Frazer
CCTV Operator: Liam Coles
Focus Puller: Ben Jones
Gaffer: Paul Allen
Electricians: Jono Yates, Bill Rae Smith, Michael Smit, Ed Riley, Tim Jordan, Auxane Verdier,
Ana Krkljus
Lead Puppeteer: Tim Cherry Jones
Puppeteers: Shakara Carter, Kim Scopes
Lead Animator: Tobias Fouracre
1st AC (stop motion): George Warren
Set Maintenance: Mark Chippington
Puppet Maintenance: Sofia Serrano

Post house: Untold Studios
Grade: Aubrey Woodiwiss
Grade Producer: Simon Downie

Music: Q Department

Sound: Factory
Sound Design/Mix: Jon Clarke
Audio Producer: Ciara Wakley