The Crucible of Transmutationanecdotes about the creative process

Lively Kisses

The Hershey's Kisses commercials have been a popular and very successful campaign, originally created via stop-motion animation in the 1990's and continuing to the present day with computer-generated imagery. The now defunct Colossal Pictures in San Francisco produced the earliest versions of these advertisements, brilliantly directed by Carl Willat. In 1995, Colossal, unable to find a local stop-motion animator who could handle their current Hershey's assignments, reached out to me. I was persuaded to travel from my home in Santa Monica to their San Francisco studio in order to animate two commercials, one featuring ice skating Kisses and the other spotlighting a snake charming Kiss. Both commercials were extremely challenging to create but the final results were incredible.

The ice skating Kisses spot was by far the most difficult to animate. I spent about a month on the project, planning the choreography with Carl, testing, and finally animating the finished version. All of the action took place on a huge seamless stage, about 24 feet wide, which required that I animate on my hands and knees - quite an uncomfortable position. The Kisses, each about eight inches wide, were expertly constructed by the Colossal model shop. The squash-and-stretch effect of the Kisses was achieved by a replacement series - each hand sculpted, cast in hard foam, and covered with aluminum foil. The flag-like strips on top were constructed of thin malleable sheet metal and covered by paper with the Hershey logo. The camera and spotlights that followed along with the Kisses were motion-controlled by cameraman Glen Claybrook; therefore, I had to literally hit my marks with precision in order to maintain sync with both. I accomplished that by making pre-planned pencil lines on the stage floor (invisible to the camera) for the Kisses' positions on every frame. Because the Kisses were tilted on edge for much of the action, I often had to support them using surface gauges, clearly visible on-camera, on the side. In the past, I never would have been able to use such a method, but the then-recent advances in digital compositing allowed my support gauges to be removed in post-production. (This technique is routinely used today.) The final animation was sweetened in post, presumably on a Quantel "Henry" compositing system, using the addition of a couple of ice sprays as the Kisses hit the ice - a very nice touch.

The snake charmer piece was significantly more straightforward as a locked-off camera was used and the action took place in one spot. The main difficulty was in getting a smooth, flowing movement out of the "cobra" which was created from a long strip of thin sheet metal. Of course, the flowing movement had to be in perfect synchronization with the music. As the snake got closer to the camera, I again used surface gauges, later removed in post-production, to support its weight. One additional complicating matter was the cobra flare which I accomplished by using a series of replacements; accordingly, I had to carefully pose and align all of the undulations in the strip with each replacement. Crazy stuff! Upon seeing my animation, the client thought it was "too sexy" so I was required to do a re-shoot to tone down the side-to-side action which I had animated to simulate hip motion in my first iteration.

All things considered, I feel that my traveling out of town to work on such a unique gig was well worth it. These Hershey's Kisses commercials are among the top favorites of all projects I have animated.

Story © 2016
Hershey's Kisses commercials © 1995 The Hershey Company
< Newer  Post 10 / 40  Older >
A look behind the scenes of art-making and other musings by .

See More Articles:

Howie and pumpkin from The Nightmare Before Christmas Skellington Incident

Pillsbury doughboy baking a pie Stop-Motion Doughboy

Aliens from Encounter movie Making ENCOUNTER

mouse riding motorcycle Stop-Motion Field Trip

nimslo camera Anaglyph Technique

Frog as a knight St. Frog and the Dragon

Mother and father trolls Meet the Umblebums

Carrot characters Fairy Tale Surrealism

3 cavemen Sculpting Cavemen

A reindog and elf The Red-Nosed Reindog

Disney popsicles Making Mickey's Parade

Freddy nightmare Nightmares Made Real

tattooed lady Tattoo Parlor Diorama

face of Night Scorp Gigantic Scorpions

animator with stop-motion puppet Chroma Key Animation

bodybuilder Frank Zane posing The Living Body as Sculpture

Man runs in a sewer movie set Starting at the Bottom

Animated bottle cap character Zippy the Cap

Stone Giant stop-motion puppet The End of Dynamation

Candy on a boys face Eye Candy

Dancing figures Lucid Dream

Talking deer and moose hunting trophies Wacky Trophy Heads

Handstanding figure over river valley Making THE WANDERER

Portrait of man made of fruit Creating a Fruit Man

Portrait of Jack Skellington Nightmare Still Photos

Spacecraft Wreckage Spaceship Junkyard

Closeup of a robot Models and Props pt. 1

Watch shaped like a mouse Models and Props pt. 2

Train locomotive Models and Props pt. 3

Face of a cute dinosaur Young Iguanodon

ice skating hersheys kisses Lively Kisses

shopping mall Making Mall Mania

powerful super hero Extreme Heroic Poses

The character Kait from Gears of War Motion Mixture

Clay fox sculpture in the snow Pee-Wee Christmas Title

A singing cartoon box character Lounge Singer

An animated sea lion Sea Lion Ballet

Masked monster The Evil Within

flying reptile Learning CGI in the 90s

flying reptile Disney's Dinosaur