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Chinese New Year was celebrated around the world on January 25, with the first of its zodiac – the rat – getting its chance to dictate how the next year will play out for everyone.

The annual celebration began on the new moon, which rises between 21 January and 20 February. 2020 is the Year of the Rat, who symbolises wealth and the beginning of a new day.

We had the pleasure of creating the promotional animation for the Royal Mint as they too celebrate the Year of the Rat as part of their Chinese lunar collection. What we love about the story, is that according to an ancient Chinese folktale, the Jade Emperor called 12 animals to a meeting and announced that the years on the calendar would be named according to the order they arrived in. This led to ‘The Great Race’ and this is where our animation begins…

Being able to use animation in this way to be able to visualise such an ancient story, gives a fresh perspective and audience to the cultural impact that the Chinese Zodiac is believed to have upon each year, such as which numbers to avoid.

In today’s society, most people consider the rat as a pest and we often hear it associated with derogatory language, however, the Chinese see it differently. Their first sign of the zodiac is believed to have characteristics of an animal with spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility and vitality.

When doing our research into the Chinese zodiac, we found that those born in previous Year of the Rat (2008, 1996, 1984, 1972…) are considered to be instinctive, acute and alert which means they have business leadership qualities. They always react before the worst circumstances take place and they are also seen as sophisticated, as well as being popular in social situations.

We worked closely with the Royal Mint to ensure that the animation matched the final design of the two new coins that they have released in celebration of this Chinese New Year. Want to take a look? Click here. The entire lunar collection is a fantastic commemoration.

Our creative process involved researching a variety of traditional Chinese animation styles, from which we developed this unique look and feel.  We used traditional ink techniques to create unique ink bleeds, which help bring the style to life.  Rigging up each of the individual animals, we created realistic run cycles to give the character animation depth and flourish!

It’s so important to be able to have that client buy-in throughout the storyboard process and it’s certainly something we pride ourselves in. Animation is a great way of being able to convey a story for your brand. Instead of being out on location, we retain full control over design, look and feel in the comfort of our studio, and allows us to be creative in how that story is told. The Great Race story might be folklore, but we like to think we effectively brought it to life for our client.  Keep an eye out for the TV commercial edit running throughout January and February!