The Bear & The HareSo I totally get we're still in November and that seeing the Christmas decorations already polluting every inch of your local mall has got your blood boiling and that you expect No Film School to be a ho ho haven from such premature revelry but just bear with me (sorry couldn't resist) as you take a look at Blink's heartwarming spot for John Lewis'The Bear & The Hare that, dare I say it, actually captures the spirit of Christmas. Get in the seasonal spirit after the jump:

Keeping with their now traditional seasonal pairing with the department store -- having created 2012's The Journey & 2011's The Long Wait both helmed by Dougal Wilson (whose IKEA spot we featured last year) -- Blink and Hornet brought directors Elliot Dear & Yves Geleyn on board to helm the project which saw nearly 4,000 laser cut 2D frames printed out and then stop motion animated over 6 weeks through the physically crafted, scaled down world of the winter pals. From the Vimeo description:

Elliot and Yves took the two most traditional and time-honoured animation processes – stop-motion and traditional hand-drawn 2D animation – and combined them to create something innovative and unique. Their aim was to do almost everything in camera, using real lighting, lens and film craft to build a world where the audience can see and feel the painstaking work behind it. The 2D animation’s physical interaction with the set and the human imperfections inherent in the process create a hand-crafted piece full of heart and integrity.

The animation process involved constant shifts between 2D and 3D worlds. In order to achieve this complicated combination the whole film was first created in Blinkink Studios as a 3D previsualisation animatic with all the sets and characters built to scale. This allowed everything to be developed and planned alongside the modelmakers and animators, thus integrating the different disciplines and processes before the set was built or the characters were printed.

You can see how all that work looked in action in this making of film from Jake & Josh:

If you happened to have stumbled across discussions of The Bear & The Hare you may have raised an eyebrow when talk turned to its purported £7m budget. However, the animation's budget itself appears to sit more around the admittedly robust £1m mark; the remainder taken up by an extensive social media campaign, mobile app, real world installations, Lily Allen's cover of Somewhere Only We Know and what I'm sure was an eye-wateringly expensive UK ad slot take over launch during ITV's X Factor. If like me you're wondering what the return on investment is on such a media blitz Curveball Media do a good job of crunching the numbers in their piece The Bear and The Hare John Lewis Christmas Advert 2013 Cost How Much?.

With 8.6 million YouTube views and counting, it looks like John Lewis' financial bet has paid off in spades. Does the animation work as a piece of filmmaking in its own right for you and if so, is it enough to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about the retailer going into the holiday season? Let us know in the comments.