When we came across Hard Times for Super Thieves, our first thought was simply: insane! The new ad for eBike brand, VanMoof, has enlisted Rowdy Films’ Oscar-nominated animator, Tobias Fouracre, known for his work on Isle of Dogs, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Corpse Bride. In it, three plasticine “super thieves” try to steal a miniature 3D printed VanMoof. Shot in a mockumentary style, the campaign attempts to address anti-theft technology in a more lighthearted way.

“Our project brief was to create a 1 minute ad that advertised the anti-theft and maintenance package VanMoof provides,” Daisy Garside of Rowdy Films told us. “We started with a script from VanMoof and then Tobias developed it together with their in-house creative department. We had some back and forth on the character profiles and then when those were locked in we got designing!”

What they came up with is a success built on multiple feats, including a terrific script, super real and engaging puppet expressions, cool lighting at every turn, and stellar art direction. When I asked how it went and if there were any big challenges (because we all know these things rarely comes out this well without some trials), Daisy told us, “Technically the biggest challenge was getting the lip sync right with the tiny plasticine mouths. The puppets were built out of a mix of hard resin casts and then plasticine sections for the eyes, brows and mouths along with being fully armatured inside and having real fabric clothes.”

In addition to those materials, they built a simple mini studio cove set up for the set, “…which worked really well with the classic interview setting,” she said. “The main challenge though, was getting the puppets built in the short time frame that we had. We only had 5 ½ weeks from our kickoff call to delivery and that included Christmas and New Year!” Pretty amazing.

If you enjoyed Super Thieves as much as we did, check out this bts video as well:

Production Company: Rowdy
Director: Tobias Fouracre
Producer: Daisy Garside
Production Company Reps: Lemonade Reps
Director of Photography: Malcolm Hadley
1st Assistant Camera and BTS: Toby Goodyear
Gaffer: Justin Noë
Stills Gaffer: Jono Yates
Animators: Tobias Fouracre, Mark Waring and Andy Biddle
Puppet Maintenance and Stand By Art Dept: Rosie Tonkin
Shot at Clapham Road Studios

Puppet Design and Fabrication: Beth Jupe and Andy Bell
Puppet Fabrication: Amanda Thomas, Anthony Fallows, Beck Smith, Graeme Hall, Paul Davies, and Mark Thompson
Props: Hayley McKinney
With thanks to Mackinnon and Saunders

Set Design and Construction: Solomon Yossel Simpson-Little

Animatics Edit: Thomas Harnett O’Meara
Rig Removal and Compositing: Gustaf Lindstrom
Digital Intermediate: Escape Hatch Studio
Colourist: Nick Watson

Voices provided by Vocal Point
International Art Thief voiced by Liz May Brice
Master Lockpicker voiced by Robbie Stevens
Cyber Security “Specialist” voiced by Jordan Claire McCraw
Thanks to Ben Romer-Lee

Sound by String and Tins
Sound Designer: Jim Stewart
Foley: Foley Walkers
Audio Producer: Eimear Ní Ghuaire @eimear.ni.ghuaire
Music: ‘’Village Idiot” by Cavendish

Client: VanMoof
Creative Director: Colin Cornwell
Art Director: Sandra Nicolas
Copywriter: Alex Rigby
Producer: Kim Buttery
Head of Production: Joeri Breebaart
CMO: Andrew Smith