Kris Hofmann has directed a charming and impeccably crafted film for Wildlife Aid, to raise awareness of the plight of the urban hedgehog, which apparently is facing extinction. We talk to Hofmann about how the film was made.
The film's story is a simple one: it features Harry, a city-based hedgehog, who follows a set of magical footprints that lead him out of the city and into his natural habitat in the wild. At the end of the film, viewers are then directed to a website, wildlifeaid.org.uk, where they can donate. Where the film really dazzles though is in its design. Hofmann worked with illustrator Sandra Dieckmann and modelmaker Joe James to create the piece, which uses a mix of hand-drawn illustrations and puppets set in a 3D world.
"I gave Sandra a storyboard and asked her to draw the environment that Harry will be travelling through," explains Hofmann of the process. "So she illustrated the journey from suburban garden, through the town and eventually back to the forest where Harry would find a better home (and a hedgehog girlfriend!)."
The hedgehog puppet was then created by James, based on a rough design from Hofmann, which included a specification for the pencil style spikes. Here's a close up of the finished Harry:
"We then recreated the different elements of Sandra's world in 3D," continues Hofmann. "Walls, trees, bins etc were all built from grey card and arranged in a composition close to the one in the initial storyboard and her drawings.
"This allowed us to give the illustrations she created 'body', and merge the worlds of the flat drawings and the puppet. For example, when Harry is walking through the forest, the trees cast shadows on him. In the final stage, I mapped Sandra's drawings on to the 3D elements, the floor and the background."
Below are some sequences from the film, to show how the elements were combined for the finished film: