How Director Henry Littlechild & The Mill combined to create Smart Energy’s latest batch of Einstein spots

We caught up with Director Henry Littlechild to discuss what it was like working with The Mill to create a virtual Einstein and four films for Smart Energy's most recent campaign.
Work May 26, 2021

What was the brief from Smart Energy and how did you go about bringing it to life?

It was all about bringing Einstein to life in an authentic and convincing way. The overarching approach was to make it seem like he’s somehow back in the contemporary world and we’re simply making a documentary about him. So rather than making a song and dance about it, it’s as if we’re catching up with an old friend.

How did you find working with the Mill Direction team on this project?

The process was one of the most enjoyable I’ve been involved in. There was much more discussion than usual in developing the scripts with AMV.  They had to work both conceptually for Smart Energy and technically for Einstein, which wasn’t so straightforward. There was the feeling of a unique opportunity that we absolutely had to get right.

How involved were you in the post-production process?

Very, it wasn’t a case of shooting and handing over the footage. To bring Einstein fully to life we needed an overarching integrated approach. It was a collaboration from the beginning to the end of the process. So I was involved in every squinting of an eye or furrow of a brow in the animation. Likewise, the animators, the 2D and 3D leads were involved early in our process to ensure it worked for them. We needed to be all singing from the same hymn sheet to ensure we realised him fully. Apart from the obvious technical trickery, it was about creating the right kind of Einstein. Whilst appearing knowable we wanted him to be friendly, approachable and bring out his humorous playful side.

We had to craft exactly the right performance in camera that could act as a springboard for the post-work.

How do you see the evolution of digital humans changing the way directors work?

This is obviously just the start. It was exciting to create Einstein digitally. Although it’s an amazing tool, it was something we wanted to use sympathetically enhancing an in-camera performance. A key aspect we took from the process us using the technique with a lightness of touch. It’s the lightness of touch and subtleties that really make it sing.

You can get in touch with our Direction team via our contact page and find out how we created Einstein by reading our Case Study. You can also check out more of Henry’s directorial work here.