When Mattel approached Lawrence Becker of SamplerTimes about the Hot Wheels Skate Octopark Playset (with exclusive fingerboard and skate shoes!) he was immediately was drawn to the idea of the octopus and bringing it to life. “I wanted to do some sort of throwback 90s claymation ad,” he told us, “which I grew up watching and loving.
“We had a zoom meeting, I storyboarded it out, designed the octopus so it could morph easily, and did a rough version of the sculpt before handing it over to Katy Strutz, who is a brilliant artist I love working with. She sculpted the octopus (with wire skeleton) and I focused on the clay hand and planning out the animation. Van Aken Claytoon clay was used for the octopus and hand, and I used blue cellophane, bubble wrap and hair gel for the water effects. I also used some plexiglass to provide the glass effect for the water tank.”
The result is an astonishing water look. “It really shocked me how well it worked,” he said on Instagram. Although it still took almost a whole week to shoot that part. The octopus required two rigs to hold it up and still fell a few times because of the weight of the clay. Cellophane was used for the puddle as well, but Becker just used a few shots of a big sheet and edited it in Photoshop.
In addition to struggling with the top-heavy octopus, Becker told us there were many tricky parts to the shoot like, “…animating eight tentacles, a hand, and water effects (bubbles etc) which took about a week to complete. The finger-boarding part was sort of a breeze compared to that. The final vertical skate shot was tricky, but the majority of time/planning was for the opening shot.”
That underwater sequence turned out swimmingly (sometimes we can’t help ourselves) but also of note is a really cool writhing transition between the puppet and the playset. Too, while it may not have been hard to pull off, the fingers-skating, complete with multiple camera angle and shoe changes comes off as original and attention grabbing for kids and adults alike.
The ad has already been out in the world for a little while now on social media. “A slightly longer version with added tricks is also on all my socials,” Becker said, as well as the behind the scenes. I might release one more GoPro time lapse of my work on it, and slow it down a little so you can see how it all came together.” That should be out any day.
We’re looking forward to it!