Two years have passed since the release of our last holiday video “0506”. Having completed a lot of commercial work in the past months, we decided to allocate some time into another independent piece. Since the holiday season was just around the corner, the theme was pretty much obvious. The video was to be filled with holiday joy, kids, snow, pine trees and a whole lot of candy cane.

We were very pleased with our earlier piece “Everyday People”, but felt that the style and techniques used in it could be taken further. In the end we decided for the animation to simulate a carnival puppet theater using paper cutout figures. All the characters and scene elements were created as vector illustrations and then textured with paper grain to give them more tactile appearance. The original collection of elements designed for this project featured around 60 distinct characters – the number we had to limit in order to keep the video flow interesting and to maintain a reasonable length for the whole piece.

[flashvideo file= height=367 /]


The animation features two distinct styles. All the background and scene elements move as if driven by a clockwork machinery. Rather than keyframing them by hand, we actually built a network of links and expressions within After Effects allowing us to control the rotation using a single “engine” element. All the delays between different planes and jerking when the speed changes abruptly are the result of this virtual clockwork created specifically for the project.

For the characters we decided to go with much softer animation, simulating the actual movements of a puppet on the stick. We printed some of the characters, attached them to tongue depressors and played with them in front of the monitor in order to get the movements right. The final animation features a mix of keyframed animation and random movement giving the puppets much more believable appearance, and bringing them into focus due to the contrast with the mechanical surroundings.

Originally, we planned to execute the entire project in photorealistic 3D using Maya, but due to the time constraints (the entire video was made within 2 weeks) we settled on a simulated 3D using After Effects. It has proven to be the right decision – using a mix of glows, shadows and simple lights, we managed to emulate complex 3D illumination while dramatically decreasing render times.

As for the audio – we dropped the music in favor of pure effects soundtrack. Again, the sound has been inspired by clockwork machinery and analogue sounds. This approach emphasized the overall feel we wanted to give to the project – staying away from the digital and remembering the spirit of holidays.

The project was released as a mini-site and generated over five thousand visits on the first day alone. You can view it using the player embedded in this post, or go directly to the minisite at and view it in its full hi-definition size.






Concept & Design: Çiğdem Keresteci
Animation: Quba Michalski
Sound & Music: DaÄŸhan KÖk (Retronic)
Tools: Photoshop, Corel Draw, Illustrator, After Effects

Visit the 0708 minisite:

Original post on imago website:

Other works of Çiğdem Keresteci: