The odyssey of giving
life to a deer
The easiest option is rarely the most beautiful one, quite on the contrary. That’s why sometimes it’s worth getting involved in a difficult and over ambitious project in which different departments need to work side by side, several artists have to create in coordination and one needs to count on the collaboration of many people alien to this business.
The Hunt or Be Hunted campaign we devised for Jägermeister is one of those professional odysseys. A project the difficulty of which was as high as its ambitions: doing animation with tattoos, using real ink and skin, and setting them in motion.
The idea is brilliant. And so is the result. Then, how come nobody had thought about it before (or, at least, not that we knew of)? Because the path that leads from the initial idea to the final result is not exactly easy. But it’s very beautiful indeed.
In the creation of Hunt or Be Hunted there were many people involved. Up to their necks in it! The responsibility of giving life to Jäger’s deer, then, was shared between many different persons.
When the project landed at the O headquarters, our producer Fiona Vidal-Quadras thought that: “it was impossible. Finding two hundred people ready to get a tattoo for life of something they wouldn’t know what it was wasn’t plausible. They needed to have a blind confidence on the brand and its design”. Nadala Fernández‘ reaction was similar when she joined the project as a producer: “Oh, my, we’re going to suffer! But since it was a challenge, something that had been never done before, we’d enjoy the suffering!” Pau Castejón, director of photography, Lluís Murúa, editor, and Yukio Montilla, post-production coordinator, all agree that the first time they were told about the project they all thought, “it was madness”. But they also considered that it was something “very fresh”.
Jägermeister – Hunt or be Hunted
Agency: McCann Worldgroup
Production Company: O
Director: Ernest Desumbila
Executive Producer: Rafa Montilla
Producer: Nadala Fernández
Production Manager: Fiona Vidal-Quadras
DOP: Pau Castejón
Animation by Sauvage
Grading by Xavi Santolaia
Postproduction Coordinator: Yukio Montilla
Tattoos by Ondo
Music by The Saurs
Soundtrack by Trafalgar13
Sound Design by Ideasonora
Art Direction: Oian Arteta
Stylist: Carolina Galiana
Hair & Make-up: Natalia Albert
When all the machinery was set to work, the challenge of making possible the impossible began. But it soon turned out that some pipe-dreams were more real than they seemed. For Nadala (and for the whole team, in fact) it was a surprise that so many people answered their called to get a blind tattoo for a brand: “I thought we wouldn’t get enough people. I’m still surprised today that we had to select among the 1,500 that responded!” But once the casting was ready, the logistics problems were far from solved: “We had to move around a hundred people within three different cities… and just for a single frame! If only one of the people that were going to get a tattoo didn’t show up the day s/he was meant to, her/his frame wouldn’t be done and the animation would be ruined. Thus, we had to trust that no volunteer was going to think twice and not appear at all!”
We shouldn’t forget that all this animated experiment had to be integrated, besides, in a film with many technical complexities apart from the production ones. Pau Castejón says that, apart from “creating an attractive ambience for the story and giving it intention with the camera, the great challenge came when we had to try to give it the language of traditional animation but with real tattoos on human skin. Each drawing adapted differently to each person because all skins are different; we even had to stretch some of them so that they’d fit in with the previous and following frames.” “It was very complicated – adds Yukio –, because even though the guys at Sauvage are great animators, the medium wasn’t the one they usually work with in animation. But it turned out really well.” And here’s where we need to celebrate as well the great understanding between Sauvage animators and Ondo tattoo artists, who managed to find a way to work together and devised a shared language with two initially very different disciplines.
Once at post-production stage, when the deadline was getting really close, there were still some problems that needed to be solved. For Lluís, as editor, there were more challenges apart from animating the tattoos: “creating the right enigmatic atmosphere for dome and flashback scenes were to me the most interesting challenges”.
The end of the way is what you can see on this embed at the top of the article: Hunt or Be Hunted in the director’s cut version. This commercial was premiered on the big screen, although in a slightly different version, last week at Phenomena in Barcelona. For Lluís and Pau, this premiere on a cinema room already smells of awards. “Taking into account that it’s strange to see commercials in such a big format, being able to enjoy the final result projected at Phenoma is very satisfying,” says Pau.
For the other members involved in the project, the prize at the end of the adventure is less tangible. Nadala, for instance, says that for her it was “working with a team that gave its best and was able to solve all the problems we encountered along the way.” For Fiona, the simple fact of being able to accomplish a project that at first seemed real madness is really gratifying: “Having managed to end up doing this impossible thing, and having done it really well, with all the effort, changes and painstaking work it implied is the real prize. If one of the columns holding up the project had failed, they would have all fallen.” Yukio thinks the same: “The greatest satisfaction is seeing it done and being proud of the final result.”
Although in order to be completely proud about it, we need to let you witness the whole process. The short documentary shot by María Sosa that you can access below is what really shows the value of the work of all the people that have collaborated in this film directed by Ernest Desumbila. As María says, “in the final piece no one says they’re tattoos. My goal was to make clear that behind each animated frame there was a real person. It’s a way of granting value, on the one hand, to Ernest’s work, and on the other, to thank and respect the people that were getting a tattoo they didn’t know what it was, because that was really mental! And we didn’t want to treat them just like a piece of meat.”