bearandhare bearandhare

Disney Florida Veterans Create Hand-Drawn Spot for British Retailer John Lewis

British department store John Lewis has released an ambitious annual Christmas advertisement, a £1 million hand-drawn spot with stop motion backgrounds called The Bear and the Hare. The piece was directed by Yves Geleyn and Elliot Dear through Hornet/Blinkink.

The hand-drawn character animation was created by two veterans of Disney’s former animation studio in Orlando: Dominic Carola who runs Premise Entertainment and Aaron Blaise who gained plenty of experience drawing bears when he co-directed Brother Bear. Aaron offered some details to Cartoon Brew about the project:

“I designed all of the characters while Dom and I supervised all of the animation. I personally animated all of the Bear and the Hare while Dom and his crew animated the rest of the animals. It was taken all the way through final line at Premise in Orlando. It was so great to do 2D again! I was even working on paper at my old Disney animation desk! Something I hadn’t done since Brother Bear!

Executive Producers: Bart Yates, Michael Feder
Producers, Bart Yates, James Stevenson Bretton, Josephine Gallagher
2D Animation: Premise Entertainment LLC
2D Animation Supervisors: Aaron Blaise, Dominic Carola
2D Animators: Erin Humiston, Darko Cesar
Head of Clean-up 2D Animation: Janelle Bell-Martin
2D Clean-up Artists: Mi Yul Lee, Teresa Quezada-Geer, Jacque Pierro, Chad Thompson, Jason Peltz
2D Compositor/Scene Setup: Mac Masters
2D Artistic Coordinator: Pam Darley
2D Digital Artist: Anthony West, Enoc Castaneda
2D Lead Colorist/Coordinator: James Lancett
2D Colorists: Sean Weston, Joseph Sparkes, Frankie Swan, Harriet Gillian
Assistant 2D Colorist: Lila Peuscet
2D Illustrator Technician: Albert Sala
Printers: The Graphical Tree
Laser Cutting: Ewen Dickie
Designer/Typographer: Robert Frank Hunter
Storyboard Artists: Sav Akyuz, Steve Tappin, James Lancett, Robert Frank Hunter
3D Technical Director: Patrick Hearn
3D Previsualisation Artist: Simone Ghilardotti, Lucas Cuenca, Johannes Sambs
Lead Stop-Frame Animator: Andy Biddle
Stop-Frame Animators: Daniel Ojari, Daniel Gill
Production Designer/Supervising Modeller: John Lee
Art Department Modellers: Colin Armitage, Sonya Yu, Maggie Haden, Collette Pidgeon, Yossel Simpson Little, Richard Blakey, Gary Welch, Christy Matta, Lucy Begent
Scenic Painters: Fiona Stewart, Beth Quinton
Rigging Department: Richard Blakey
Art Department Assistants: Morgan Faverty, Anna Ginsburg, Jennifer Newman
MOCO/Camera Assistant: Max Halstead
Director of Photography: Toby Howell
Gaffer: Aldo Camilleri
Runner: Robert Gould
Post Production: Blinkink Studios
Post Production/Compositing: Alasdair Brotherston, Ian Sargent, Carlos Diego, Jonathan Gallagher, Elliot Dear
Editors: Sam Sneade, Ellie Johnson
Sound Design: Sam Robson at Factory Studios
Colorist: Jean-Clement Soret at MPC

  • Brill 93

    I was getting some sort of a watership down, and brother bear feel to this.

    • MockingbirdDont

      I felt the Watership Down vibe too. And loved it.

  • Power_Animator


  • Fraser MacLean

    So wonderful to see this. Congratulations – and thanks – to everyone who was involved.

  • CDisqusman

    Were these the same guys who started “Legacy” after the Orlando studio closed?

    • Tim Hodge

      Nope. Legacy was a different group of artists, but also from Disney’s closed animation studio. The Premise guys’ first venture was called Firefly Animation. They had some staffing and business changes and re-started as Premise.
      Legacy formed around a short film idea, and, though they had a few interested investors, were never able to get the backing they needed.
      Someone correct me if I’ve gotten the facts wrong, but that’s what I recall.

    • Dave

      No, you’re thinking of “Project Firefly” .

  • This was VERY charming. The reveal at the end was great.

    Between this and that ex-Ghibli’s animator’s ad for Control Bear ( ), this has been a wonderful season for hand-drawn animation in ads!

    • George Comerci

      Let’s not forget about The Scarecrow :D

  • Laura H

    Wow. That is beautiful.

  • Max C.

    Might be the most attention-grabbing of John Lewis’ Christmas ads as of yet.

    Speaking of which, here’s another beautiful ad from my home country that mixes 2D animation styles:

  • Anna

    Thank you John Lewis for making this Christmas special for 2D animators and the fans of this greatly missed art.

  • Mapache

    Thanks to tearjerker animated adds we got Coldplay’s The Scientist sung by Willie Nelson and Fionna Apple singing Pure imagination. Now we have Lily Allen’s tribute to Keane. Hope this pattern continues.

    • Animator606432


  • Derik

    This reminded me of this movie about a bear and a dog who, I think, was shackled together. At the end of the movie the bear goes into hibernation and forgets who the dog is after their adventure together.

    Does anybody know this movie?

  • I’m not big on the generic pop song, but the animation is gorgeous. You can see the Disney influence, but the animals have some more realistic features. I’d love to see a feature from these guys. Disney Florida was too short lived.

  • jhalpernkitcat

    This is the same song used for the latest Winnie the Pooh movie trailer, except sung by someone else.
    The animation is lovely–especially that of the bear and the rabbit–and the ending is adorable.

  • Aaron Blaise

    This was an incredibly emotional endeavor for me as I was able to work with my old Disney colleagues again after 10 years of being apart. We slipped right back into our old groove and it was as if the decade before hadn’t existed at all! Needless to say…this was a fun project.

    • SarahB

      Pardon me for asking, but will any of the production art be for sale? Its quite lovely and I would love to have some in my collection! As everyone has said, wonderful work!

  • George Comerci

    Wish they’d stuck with instrumentals and not that warble. But other than that, it was beautiful. Everything was perfection :)

  • Brian C.

    Never knew that these guys existed right in my backyard. Excellent work!

  • Dana B

    That was very touching, kinda brought a tear to my eye! I couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic watching the animated animals. It did remind me a little of Lion King a bit. There really needs to be holiday commercials like this…

    • Funkybat

      I feel like there used to be more stuff like this 20-30 years ago. Not at this level of art quality, but the nostalgic, tugs-at-your-heartstrings kind of thing. There was a Toys R Us ad years ago that ran for many Christmases that had a nice custom jingle to go along with it. Though it was stop-mo and not 2D, the “Noel-co” ad with Santa riding an electric Norelco razor is another timeless one. I know there are other examples but I can’t think of them off of the top of my head.

      It seems like in the 90s, the people in charge at ad agencies decided anything heartwarming or nostalgic was too old-fashioned, and everything became high-energy and “badass.” In the 2000s, that shifted to mock-nostalgia and meta references in the vein of “Internet humor.” It’s nice to see something that tells a simple story beautifully, with no forced snark or parody.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Yeah I remember those days well, this is like what one US department store had with creating Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for it’s use in the past century.

        The only ‘classic’ thing that should’ve died long enough is the Hershey’s Kisses jingle bell bit. I dread hearing that again this season.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Hand drawn..oh how I’ve missed that…

  • John

    Does anyone remember a film called, something like, ‘Tug the Jeep’ being produced by Florida alumni? That was also a project I saw material on shortly after the Florida shutdown.

  • Funkybat

    Beautiful spot! The merging of 2D drawings and 3D scenery felt much more natural than I am used to, not at all jarring. I hope this ad gets lots of viral attention online and helps draw people into the stores (so that more retailers might feel justified in using 2D animation in their ads!)

    Congrats to everyone who worked on this!

  • Robert Vaughan A making of Video… :-)

  • An Animator

    Coming from one animator to another, it’s good to see old 2D coming back in any way shape or form.

  • Tom Gran

    Is no one else annoyed by the fact they did such an overblown process when you can’t even tell? Sure the animation’s great but this would look exactly the same if it was done with digital 2D on CG backgrounds. What a waste of talent.

  • Dave

    It’s beautiful. But those Florida guys love that broth bear look.