Brooklyn-based design and animation studio Houses in Motion was tapped by Nick Jr. to produce a playful, wintery broadcast package. The “Warm & Fuzzy” project included a series of promos, IDs and bumpers featuring stylized versions of characters from some of the network’s popular shows, along with some new adorable critters to join in the frosty frolics — all brought to life in stop-motion animation that shows off the characters’ handcrafted looks.
Houses lead the production, creating over 20 stop-motion vignettes and dozens of animated graphic elements in under five weeks. The studio’s pipeline had to quickly and seamlessly take the package from concept development through storyboarding, shooting the animation, motion graphics and visual effects.
Producer, director and Houses in Motion co-founder John Earle laid out an ambitious schedule for his team to shoot four to six vignettes a day. The studio worked closely with Nick Jr.’s fabricator, Julia Rosner, whose LA team customized the 4” characters and set pieces.
In addition to accurately portraying the personalities of established characters like Dora, Blaze and Marshall, Houses developed distinct traits for the new animal characters they meet in the spots. These include a diva penguin, a bumbling polar bear and the carefree buddies fox and rabbit.
The rapid-fire pace was aided by a magnetic tie-down rig for the puppets proposed by DP Chris Webb, allowing the crew to reuse sets without having to change out damaged surfaces. During shooting, the art department was constantly on alert in case additional elements were needed, and turned some around in minutes. Houses’ post-production artists handled cleanup in Adobe Lightroom and After Effects, and added visual effects like snowfall and lighting.