Behind the scenes: How John Lewis' new ad Never Standing Still was created

Director Dougal Wilson and VFX house MPC detail creating a nostalgic walk, run, splash and slide through 150 years of British history.

John Lewis's big winter ad – The Bear and the Hare – won universal acclaim for its endearing mix of hand-made and digital animation. Its new summer campaign to celebrate the department store's 150th birthday isn't in the same league, but it's a still an elegantly cut run through day-to-day scenes from the 1930s to the present day.

You can watch Never Standing Still above.

The ad manages to pull off the feeling of nostalgia without necessarily being grounded in reality – as evidenced most in a Blitz-sequence that appears almost whimsical (this is an ad, after all).

The spot was conceived by Steve Wioland and Matt Woolner at adam&eveDDB and directed by Dougal Wilson, with visual effects provided by MPC.

"The idea from adam&eveDDB was all about following the movement of a figure as it travels from era to era," says Dougal. "After attempting to shoot a rough version of how this might fit together (using my 5D and iPhone) I immediately realised, with some alarm, that MPC's services would be somewhat vital in making it work."

Use the slideshow controls above and right for a behind-the-scenes look at how John Lewis' Never Standing Still was created.

“This project was nothing short of ambitious," says Bill. "150 years, 24 locations, and over 170 composited plates all completed over a six-day schedule. Dougal’s inspired directing and a close collaboration between everyone involved has led to another iconic John Lewis commercial.”

Right: The final shot.

Right: Dougal's footage before MPC's VFX work.

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Right: The final shot.

The spot was shot on a variety of formats including Alexa, Canon 7D and 16mm film, but the look for each era was achieved using digital colour grading.

“The idea was to create a patchwork of looks to represent the different eras," says MPC’s creative director of colour grading Jean-Clément Soret. "We used a number of visual references to recreate looks but also made decisions based on what was working best with the edit and didn't hesitate to follow our instincts."

Right: Footage before colour grading.

“In a grading suite there are often different views for what, say, Technicolor or 60’s should look like," says Jean-Clément. "It all depends on individual backgrounds and cultural references. The non-chronological order of the film gave us a lot more freedom to experiment rather than having to follow a set formula.

"We used a number of tools to enhance the look such as film grain, diffusion, sharpening and defocus – selectively or on the whole image.”

Right: The final shot after colour grading.

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