To celebrate the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan, France Télévisions and its agency, MullenLowe France partnered with The Mill/Mikros MPC to direct a film inspired by one of the masters of Japanese art: Katsushika Hokusai and his iconic painting 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'. The Mill/Mikros MPC was commissioned to take viewers on a journey to Japan in a brand-new Olympic ident.
From art/direction to final delivery of the film, the team at The Mill/Mikros MPC was a one-stop-shop creative house for ‘Sumo’. The objective was to honor the Japanese culture, the values of the Olympics, and the new events that would debut at the Summer Games, such as skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing. All of this in a full 2D animated film, using Japanese prints as a reference.
The multi-award-winning spot that picked up four Gold Awards at Promax Europe 2021, which recognizes “the most original, refreshing, and inspirational work across the region.” The campaign also won a Gold and Silver Clio Sports and Eurobest Award for Best Animation, has been nominated for Best Animation Character at the 2022 VES Awards.
Geoffroy Barbet-Massin, The Mill/Mikros MPC
“Throughout the project, our teams respected the traditional codes of 18th-century Japanese prints, both from a narrative and an aesthetic standpoint. The environments and the characters are full of details, drawn with thick and bold lines, strong shapes, audacious concept designs. It was important to create the right balance between the scenery and the sumotori and adapted the character’s line drawing according to its size in the frame, and in constant relation with the treatment of the backgrounds. All our choices, whether creative or technical, were driven by our care to develop a project that would mix a highly stylized aesthetic and storytelling.”
Mikros MPC and illustrator Stéphane Levallois created a film with plenty of Japanese style, showing off both classic Olympic sports and newer additions. Directed by Geoffroy Barbet-Massin of Mikros MPC, the teams created imagery reminiscent of block prints or ink drawings, the artist sends the sumo wrestler on a dynamic trip surfing waves, skateboarding across tiled roofs, rock climbing, running, shooting hoops with melons, long jumping using wild bamboo, and finally making a dramatic entrance into the Olympic stadium.
Working in close collaboration with character designer, Stéphane Levallois, Mikros MPC were involved in the direction, art direction, and final delivery of the film, serving as the main creative partner to bring to life this 2D animation film featuring a Sumotori (someone who wrestles in the national style of wrestling in Japan) as the central character.
“The previz work was crucial to allow the greatest optimization at all levels. With both the production and the steps from staging to final delivery being handled in-house, we mastered the fine-tuned technical and creative decisions as a team to allow a smooth production. Our Lead Animator, Antoine Antin, worked closely with Geoffroy Barbet-Massin to adapt the initial character design of the sumotori, made by Stephane Levallois. We had to find a “dry” style of animation to respect the static approach of the Japanese prints. The result is a stepped animation in 3’s and 4’s that contributed to the “hand-drawn” aesthetic that allowed us to focus on the richness of FX and details in the characters and environment for each image.”