Don’t Miss ITV’s Knitted Ad Break
- Sarah Neal
Look out for something a bit different during Text Santa, ITV’s annual charity fundraiser, on Friday 18th December. One of the ad breaks will be entirely knitted!
Woolly versions of existing ads by British Gas, Nationwide, Amazon Prime, DFS, BT and Dreams will appear on our screens between 9 and 10pm, to tie in with the Christmas jumper theme of this year’s appeal. Inspired by last year’s multi-award winning Lego ad break, the ads feature puppet versions of celebrities such as Rebel Wilson and other familiar characters from our screens, brought to life using stop-frame animation.
Want to know more about how it was done? Victoria Findlay and Katie Carew from ITV Creative gave us an insight into how they and their team recreated ads by six major brands entirely with knitting:
Creating the Knitted Ad Break
“We wanted to come up with something really special to raise awareness of this year’s Text Santa, and a knitted ad break seemed the perfect link with the Christmas jumper theme. We knew it would be a big job but at the same time we couldn’t resist this exciting opportunity.
Our Commercial Team explained the idea to our advertisers and interested parties sent suggestions of existing ads they would like us to use. We had to be confident that we could recreate the ad with knitting so we said yes or no based on things like complexity, number of shots and number of puppets. Also there are things you simply can’t recreate in wool such as water or fireworks, so these were a no-no.
Once we had our final six we could brief our model makers and textile artists on what we needed them to make. Unfortunately we could only give them two weeks in which to turn everything around!
There were three main teams involved. The Art Director’s team at ITV Creative did the backgrounds. Textile artist Jessica Dance, who has recently done a fantastic installation at Liberty, was responsible for very detailed key props such as the Nationwide logo. This part was actually done on a machine as it was quite complex but most of the items in the ads were handknitted. The actual models were puppets with solid bodies and moving armatures that were covered in knitting; these were created by model makers MacKinnon & Saunders, and the knitting was done by Michele Pouncey and her team at Flux Studio.
Filming started on the 23rd of November. In total there are 200 seconds of stop-frame animation and we did 10-15 seconds per day. It took us 13 days to shoot all six ads. We also shot a teaser ad at yarn shop I-Knit in Waterloo – the staff were exceptionally helpful and the knitted ads feature some yarn bought in their shop.
In terms of picking a favourite, I don’t think we can! The entire break is a passion project and as a result the full thing is our favourite! We’ve had such an amazing team working on this who all really pushed it and went above and beyond. Also all the clients have been superb, they really got into the spirit of the process and got behind it. They completely trusted us to bring their ad to life in this knitted version of the world!”
To find out more about the model-making side of the process we had a quick chat with the knitted ad break’s main model knitter, Michele Pouncey of Flux Studio
How many puppets did you make, and how long did it take?
There were 36 characters in total and around 20 separate costumes in addition to the ones they were wearing. We had just over two weeks to knit them! It was a marathon knitting project…
Was the knitting done by hand?
Yes it was all done by hand using stocking stitch. We used various weights of wool depending on the costume but mainly it was DK and 4 ply yarns.
Had you done anything like this before?
My grandma taught me how to knit and I’ve always loved knitting. I’ve been lucky enough to work on various knitting projects for TV and film including Fantastic Mr Fox and more recently I helped with the knitting of The Clangers. Every job is different; however, this was the first time I d been asked to do complete characters.
Describe the process of creating the characters.
As we had a limited amount of time we had to make them up as we went along and keep them as simple as possible! A pattern was created for anything that was duplicated such as arms, legs and heads; also there were four horses. There was a team of five of us working together to meet the deadlines.
What was the most challenging part?
Meeting the deadlines! With only a couple of weeks we really had to think on our toes and many hours were spent every day to get them done. There wasn’t any time for error so the simplest and quickest option had to work.
Which character is your favourite?
Difficult to answer! They were all different and as I was knitting I really got into the individual characters, watching the original adverts and then recreating them. The Nationwide characters were a favourite as there were lots of layers to the costumes and the story involved lots of costume changes. BT’s Rebel Wilson is another favourite, I just happened to have the perfect gold wool for her dress and I think she was great fun to knit…
We can’t wait to tune in on Friday and see the results of all this hard work! This year’s TextSanta Appeal will benefit Macmillan Cancer Support, Make-A-Wish UK and Save the Children, and all the money donated by the public goes directly to support TextSanta’s chosen charities. You can donate any time by texting SANTA5 or SANTA10 to 70760 to give £5 or £10.
Missed the knitted ad break on Friday? You can watch the whole thing here
Photography by Mark Seaton
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