When Christmas Comes Around

  • 3D Animation
  • Triosence (Sony BMG Music Entertainment GmbH)
  • 1

When Christmas Comes Around

When Christmas Comes Around (short: WCCA) is a 3-minute 3D animation based on the eponymic Christmas song by German jazz band triosence feat. Sara Gazarek (USA) (Sony BMG Music Entertainment). It is the result of a mandatory industrial project during my Bachelor studies (5th semester) with my project partner Benjamin Viethen.

The animation – realised as one continuous shot (sequence shot) – tries to tell a subtle story full of Christmas traditions ranging from the famous kiss under the mistletoe to winter elements such as snowflake and sledge to a Christmas pyramid (traditional Christmas decoration in Germany). The focus lay on creating a graceful and elegant piece full of smart transitions and beautiful calligraphic elements within a warm, snug and dreamy atmosphere – in short: audio and visuals aim to put the viewer in a merry, festive mood.

In order to realise this project a range of different techniques and tools were used. Most objects in the project are 3D models, while some graphics were designed in 2D – the couple under the mistletoe, deers and the calligraphic font.

Those objects were all featured in the animation – here you can see them in a different light (and – very basic – shading).

3ds Max served as 3D tool for tasks like modelling, rigging (character & hands), texturing, lighting and rendering. Subtle textures were created in both Illustrator and Photoshop, adding a bit more depth and detail to the otherwise outlined 3D objects. The calligraphic 2D graphics were designed in Illustrator and – as well as other objects and effects – animated in After Effects. Aesthetic elements like particles, shallow depth of field and vignette were added to enhance the feel of nostalgia and coziness. In order to create an interesting flourishing look a mixture of masks, keyframe animation and the use of z-Depth in an innovative way were applied in After Effects.

Music box model – as untextured 3D model (left) and as the integrated final output (right)

I was mainly responsible for 3D modelling (apart from window, piano, staves, snowflake), 2D illustrations and texturing, while my project partner was looking into RnD for the flourish-animation and other effects. We shared the amount of animation and compositing.

The whole project from concept to finished product was accomplished within 2-3 months as it was part of the release of the song shortly before Christmas 2010.

WCCA won the prestigious Dr. Hans-Hoch Award for Media Art (Media Award Schleswig-Holstein) in 2012 as well as a DiWiSH Media Award.

Official statement (in German) | Homepage of Dr. Hans-Hoch Award for Media Art

Zart und reduziert nimmt uns das Musikvideo unserer Preisträger auf eine sehr verspielte Reise. Wir schweben passend zur Musik durch einen Raum voll animierter Illustrationen: Vom Kuss unterm Mistelzweig über Engel und Renntiere bis zur Weihnachtspyramide werden alle klassischen Weihnachtsmotive aufgegriffen und fügen sich harmonisch in die Strophen ein. Die verschiedenen Grafiken und Bilder lösen sich auf, entwickeln sich zu neuen Formen oder zerfallen zu kleinen Schneeflocken.
Vor allem die Kombinationen und Übergänge der einzelnen Figuren sind wunderbar umgesetzt: Da fahren Schlitten über Notenlinien, Weihnachtsschmuck hängt an Klaviertasten und Sterne werden zu Geschenken. Die Typografie wirkt wie mit Feder geschrieben; Textzeilen schlängeln sich wie Geschenkband durchs Bild. Die leicht auf alt getrimmte, aber dennoch schlichte schwarz-weiß-Anmutung lässt den Betrachter in Rehaugen tauchen ohne dabei kitschig zu sein.
Neben der technischen Umsetzung und den vielen Ideen hat vor allem das stimmige Gesamtkonzept das Herz der Jury erwärmt.
Für die beiden Preisträger habe ich nun auch nur die wärmsten Glück­wünsche – wir gratulieren Andrea Kühne und Benjamin Viethen ganz herzlich zum 1. Platz des Dr. Hans Hoch Preises für Medienkunst 2012!

Bachelor | 5.semester | 2010/11
Benjamin Viethen
3ds Max | Autodesk
After Effects | Adobe
Illustrator | Adobe
Photoshop | Adobe
Various Plugins
Dr. Hans-Hoch Award for Media Art | 1. prize
DiWiSH Media Award