Figure skating animals glide back onto our screens for ITV’s new action-packed Dancing on Ice promo. Following the success of last year’s epic, Promax gold-winning spot
, ITV Creative and animation company HUSH teamed up once again to create an even more ambitious promo – this time, featuring the adorable child of the polar bears who paired up in the previous film.
Directed by Kirk Hendry, with creative by ITV Creative’s Tony Pipes, the visually-stunning 60-second spot begins with an inquisitive polar bear cub leaving her slumbering parents to go and explore. Before long, the youngster clumsily tumbles onto the frozen lake and knocks a squirrel onto the ice. As the ice cracks under their weight and they float towards a waterfall, the unlikely partners must do some quick teamwork to avoid the obstacles. Despite their size difference, the polar bear cub and squirrel perform an exhilarating figure skating routine packed with plenty of pirouettes, jumps, and a final triumphant lift.
Animation production company HUSH and their director Kirk Hendry worked, again, in close collaboration with ITV Creative. HUSH also partnered with Fablefx, the Stockholm based post production company, who specialise in CGI animals and together brought this adventurous tale to life.
Ru Warner, executive producer at HUSH, says: “ITV Creative was looking for a continuation of the polar bear theme from last year – this time, with a young cub who learns how to skate. Kirk added emotional weight to the initial script and created a dynamic narrative that would work within the 60-second time frame. This year presented a tonal shift from last year’s sentimental theme, so we needed to nail the frenetic pacing and comedic timing. It was a pleasure to work with ITV Creative again on this ambitious spot.”
Director Kirk Hendry had a large input in the creative development. He comments: “My first thoughts on receiving the new script was that it was a great idea to have the bears who met last year have had a cub this year. It showed great potential to be funny and cute and I liked the idea of expanding the list of characters who live and share the lakeside environment by bringing some of them into the spotlight. The parent bears were originally going to have a bigger role, but we had so much story to get across in 60 seconds, so we decided to make them oblivious to the peril their baby was going through by having them sleep through the whole thing and focus solely on the cub and the squirrel’s adventure.”
Speaking of the technical challenges, Kirk comments: “As always on big 3D jobs, creating believable characters was the main technical challenge. This year’s promo included a lot of environmental interaction with the characters, which provided its own challenges. Our approach has been to try and keep it as naturalistic as possible until the characters clearly break that rule by becoming more human in their behaviour in the later stages of the spot when their movements become more obviously like dancing. This year’s story was more of a comic adventure compared to last year’s romance, so we broke that rule a little earlier this time.”
With so many tonal turns in the story this year, Kirk suggested the team hire a composer to score the film, weaving in ‘The Impossible Dream’ melody from last year into the drama. The result is a bespoke orchestral score recorded in Bratislava.
Tony Pipes, ECD of ITV Creative, adds: “We wanted to return to the winter wonderland of our polar bears, but push the narrative to pull out some of the jeopardy and danger that is involved in the show. Kirk has done a great job of balancing the warmth of the original and the spectacle of the show - with a little bit of added drama. The result is heart-warming and a perfect sequel to one of our most loved ads.”
FABLEfx completed the VFX on the spot. Kaj Steveman, CEO, says: “We were incredibly impressed with last year’s trailer, so saying we were heads over heels when we were approached this year would be a huge understatement. We began early character development and did some moods of what the light and environment would look like. We initially considered using digital matte paintings entirely for the backgrounds, but as things developed, we understood that the light in this year’s promo was far too advanced to rely heavily on these. So, we ended up doing the whole environment in 3D. Since we knew we needed assistance on the VFX shots where the character interacted with the ice and water, we turned to one of the best in this field: Stockholm-based VFX studio, Important Looking Pirates. We at FABLEfx cannot emphasize enough how happy and proud we are to have gotten the chance to create this together with the fantastic production crew at HUSH, led by Ru Warner and Director Kirk Hendry.”
The promo is now live on TV and online.