We Are Alive

The Race


The Race

about the project

When Epson partnered with the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, to be their new brand ambassador, advertising agency Weber-Shandwick approached us to create a heart-warming tale of Usain’s biggest fan.

The animated film was featured across Epson’s social media channels in more than 15 markets around the globe. It was perfectly timed to add another feel-good layer to the holiday spirit during the 2021’s Christmas season.

Character Design

During the height of 2021’s travel restrictions, it was impossible to organise a video shoot, so all eyes were turned to animation as a way to tell this compelling story. We knew that having a celebrity as the main protagonist meant developing a recognisable character design with a delicate balance between reality and stylisation. Of course, the first thing we started playing with was Usain Bolt’s iconic winning pose.

Character study Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt pose sketch
Crowd animation sketch
Stadium crowd 2D animation

Scene Development

Since the product Epson was advertising was one of the best ink-jet printers on the market, we wanted to adopt a rich colour scheme with high contrast and detail. To make it as cinematic as possible, we staged the shots in a way a cinematographer would do on an actual film set. We used digital equivalents of prime camera lenses and made sure we employed realistic shot compositions and camera movements.

Animation & Compositing

With over 40 shots containing multiple characters, animation was no easy task. We created detailed character studies and captured them from every angle needed, including a list of facial expressions and a body language library. Most shots were animated using a frame by frame posing technique, evoking a feeling of classic cel animation.

When it comes to compositing, we wanted to achieve a rich cinematic look. We tried to simulate anamorphic film lens effects like depth of field and chromatic aberration, and we applied plenty of textures and atmospheric light effects to capture the story’s warmth.

Usain Bolt face anatomy
Facial expressions for character animation

Music Composition

It was decided that the film wouldn’t contain any dialogue, so the music composition was essential in creating the emotional ups and downs during the story’s four-act structure. We followed both narratives, Usain’s winning instinct and the boy’s determination to be noticed, resulting in Bolt’s record-breaking win and fulfilling the boy’s dream to meet his hero.