Mumbai, India-based Post Office Studios was already known for being a top animation and new media technology studio when Asian Paints, India’s largest paint company, asked them in 2019 to create several 3D-animated films for a brand campaign called Colour Next. While they were thrilled to get the project, the Post Office team knew they faced a pretty big challenge because their strengths at the time were primarily 2D animation and motion graphics.
So with a tight deadline of just one month, they ramped up their 3D skills and used Cinema 4D to create five beautiful short films that allowed customers to really get a feel for the mood and tactile sensibility behind the products in that year’s Colour Next line.
Their efforts were so successful, Post Office decided to make 3D a major part of their pipeline, and Asian Paints hired the studio to create animated films for both the 2020 and 2021 Colour Next campaigns, which set home décor trends for the year.
We talked with Aditya Tawde, Post Office Studios’ chief creative officer, to find out more about how he and his team a combination of different tools and creative styles produce each year’s Colour Next series of films. Here’s what he had to say.
Tell us about Post Office Studios.
Tawde: Post Office Studios was set up to produce high-end motion content for advertising, film and music. We started off under our branded content vertical, Supari Studios, due to their constant need for post-production. But seeing the growing demand for animation and motion graphics led by good design, we decided in September of 2017 to set up a separate company to fill the niche.
I think the key to our success has been our deeply rooted culture, which focuses on fostering creativity, research and innovation. That focus enables and encourages our team of around 30 employees to create unique and experiential work in the online video space, in 2D, 3D and cel animation.
Being a collective of creative individuals, we’re extremely passionate about exploring different fields of interest and finding ways to better communicate with our clients to help them reach audiences more effectively. Recently, we have ventured into alternate, virtual and mixed reality, and we’re hoping to explore those mediums further in the years to come.
What have you done in AR, VR and MR so far?
Tawde: We tend to do a lot of experiments in our free time. In the past couple of years, we’ve created immersive content in the alternate, virtual and mixed reality spaces for brands, such as Snapchat, Instagram and the Government of Telangana for their Hyderabad Design Week. We believe that the quality of immersion takes the experience of watching content a notch higher.
We’re also investing more time into application-based research that uses AI and machine learning to automate the creation of 2D animation. The goal is to eventually be able to create professional-looking animation pieces easily within minutes.
Why did you decide 3D was essential for this project even though you mostly worked in 2D at the time?
Tawde: Asian Paints Colour Next campaign showcase an expertly curated set of trends for the year. We felt that 3D was the best route to go since we needed to convey things like mood and textures. Cinema 4D allowed us to bend each space and its objects according to our will, and we combined with photorealism, that was really more hyperrealism, to create films that looked tactile and had a sense of awe about them.
We wanted viewers to be able to imagine the trends in their own homes, and the combination of unexpected motion and beautiful materials added a bit of glamour to the products.
Given that our primary strengths at the time were motion graphics and 2D animation, having to create five distinct 3D animated films in a short span of one month was challenging for our team, creatively and technically. We put together a foolproof production plan to account for unforeseen contingencies while simultaneously ensuring that we had the flexibility to rework our creative as needed.
All of that effort not only led to our making 3D animation a permanent part of our offerings, but it also inspired Asian Paints to keep coming back to us to create their Colour Next films in 2020 and 2021.
Tell us about your most recent work on the 2021 campaign.
Tawde: Much like every year, Asian Paints’ trends for 2021 were inspired by events from the previous year. Needless to say, four out of the five trends this year were inspired by COVID in some way or the other. The four trend films are called Habitat, A Home New World, Felicity and Z-Futures. The fifth film is Colour of the Year, which Asian Paints always features as part of the campaign. This year that colour is called Cherish.
Habitat is all about the restoration and healing of nature and the world as a whole. We focused on objects made using biodegradable and eco-friendly materials that were placed in a natural environment. They come together to reveal sustainable and eco-friendly decor.
A Home New World delves into the work-from-home culture that was catalysed by the pandemic. It’s about our changing, adaptive, versatile spaces at home where a variety of environments exist in the same room.
Felicity is about authenticity, the experience of well-crafted and timeless items that hold real value and are made to last and part of our routine and lifestyle. Our film focuses on articles in a living room that are timeless in their design and unparalleled in functionality.
Z-Futures is inspired by the self-assured, liberal and fluid attitude of Gen Z. Getting things done is their thing. The film showcases how that generation, in many ways, doesn’t shy away from reality. We didn’t want a voiceover because we wanted the visuals to speak for themselves.
The Colour of the Year film, Cherish, is about our reaction to the world around us in the face of uncertainty due to the pandemic. Our natural response is to treasure and appreciate all of the things that we have in our lives. We focused the film on abstract and natural elements in the world around us that are fresh, soothing and humble, such as wood and leaves.
Walk us through your process.
Tawde: At the moment, Cinema 4D is at the forefront of our work when it comes to CG motion graphic design. From developing the look, to the final production, it balances every aspect very well. Combined with a high-performance GPU renderer (Octane in this case), we were able to cut render time exponentially.
When it comes to high quality simulations, Houdini is one of the best options and we’ve recently been bridging more between Houdini and Cinema 4D, which has proven to be a game changer for us. Now we can make tools in Houdini and easily import them as assets into Cinema 4D.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Tawde: We’d just like to let people know that it isn’t just Post Office Studios that has created these Asian Paints Colour Next films over the past 3 years. We have at times collaborated with artists from all over the world, including the United States, Russia, Belgium, Poland, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Sweden. and Chile.
Those talented artists worked in sync with our team based in Mumbai, which ensured that each trend’s uniqueness was depicted through a distinct creative style. It’s always been an extremely fruitful creative collaboration.