In depth: how Steve Scott and Not To Scale created a stylish animated film for shoemaker John Lobb

Director Steve Scott and Not To Scale have written, designed and produced a short animated film for luxury shoemaker John Lobb.


Shoemaker John Lobb wanted to bring the brand to life by creating a fun, witty and UK-centric short film instead of the typical photo editorial style seen within the luxury retail sector.

John Lobb's director of communications, Benjamin Chatfield worked closely with Not To Scale's owner/executive producer Dan O'Rourke and director/illustrator Steve Scott to come up with the story. Together, they also provided creative direction for the music provided by British band Temples.

Eschewing a traditional agency route, the film was completely designed and produced out of Not To Scale's London HQ. It was debuted as part of a fully-immersive installation show for the brand's new London Collections.

Not To Scale also created print assets and a variety of bespoke illustrations and assets for in-store screens, global shop windows, merchandise and the firm's website, as well as social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo

We caught up with Dan O'Rourke and Steve Scott to get the insider info on creating the film and working directly with the client. Use the controls right and above to read the interview and see detailed stills from the film.

Michael Burns: The film features a mix of 2D and 3D animation, what was the process and what software did you use to create this?

Steve Scott: The process involved first coming up with a script that we loved. We went through a few variations of scripts before settling on the concept of a day in the life of a John-Lobb wearing guy making his way through London (right).

We then made a fairly detailed storyboard and animatic, and then ruthlessly slashed anything we felt was not working. So we lost a scene of the guy meeting his mother, as well as a bit where Monty Pythonesque giant feet tried to crush the the main guy.

In terms of the animation we did all the character animation in Flash. The 3D was made in Cinema 4D. Backgrounds were painted in Manga Studio and the whole thing was comped in After Effects. We did lots of tests to make sure all the 2D and 3D married up – we wanted the 3D and 2D to really integrate. We used lots of painterly textures in the 3D and painted lighting effects into the 3D models.


MB: What was the inspiration for the colour palette?

Steve Scott: John Lobb has a fairly strong branded colour – which is a warm yellow – so we used this as inspiration and then added some dark purples to give some contrast.

MB: Many parts of the film have a pleasant dreamy look, with lots of lighting and glows - can you say what was the thinking behind these and what you used to create/apply them?

Steve Scott: We wanted the film to have a strong sense of atmosphere, something that didn’t feel too flat. We also wanted the film to feel like a slightly dreamlike version of London. It's the London of warm summer evenings, pubs on canals and good fish 'n’ chips.

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MB: Were there any particularly challenging areas of design and animation?

Steve Scott: There were a lot of challenges with the project. We wanted to create something with maximum effect with limited resources. So we had to be clever with how we planned the animation. This was also a job with limited resources and crew, so I had to roll my sleeves up and work out various technical issues. So there was a lot of looking at tutorials and trying to figure out exactly to get the look I wanted.


MB: What came first – music or illustration?

Steve Scott: Design and illustration came first. We then spent quite a large time researching tracks. We started using the Temples track as a placeholder and then fell in love with it. Luckily they agreed that we could use it. It had the perfect sense of swagger that the film needed.


MB: Is this the first time you've avoided the traditional agency model? What benefits does working directly with a client offer?

Dan O’Rourke: No, it's not the first time we've worked directly with a brand, we've done this before with Burberry, Zurich, Nike and others and we're doing it at the moment with somebody else. It is an upward trend. We certainly would never avoid the traditional agency model; there are certain advantages to both systems but as this instance shows, as clients make more and more content they are becoming increasingly aware of the value a Director can bring in connecting a brief.

As a matter of fact, it's why agencies turn to us in the first place, to move things on add new ideas and scenes shape the film. It's a natural progression that clients might look to save on writing and put more of their budget into the production by briefing a well thought of production company directly. If needs be we can offer a multiple response much in the same way a creative department might pitch three routes to a client.

In this instance [John Lobb's] Ben Chatfield loved the diversity and strength of work Not To Scale offered and trusted my opinion that Steve was the right man for the job. The benefits for us are that we are building a relationship directly with the brand, which will often outlast one we might expect to see with traditional agencies.

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MB:The debut of the film formed part of a fully immersive, installation show. What other assets were involved in this?

Dan O’Rourke: Benjamin Chatfield at John Lobb has a great sense of theatre for things like this, and wanted to use elements from the film as much as possible for the John Lobb preview at London Collection: Mens.

Steve redrew scenes that featured in the film's dream sequence, Lobb Land. These were printed onto huge three metre high flats that the shoes hung from. We created a giant John Lobb shoe sole - like our hero in the film, guests were invited to slip their head through to see a pair of John Lobb shoes spotlit on an artist's work stool.

The film played on a huge projector in a darkened room before guests were led up the stairs to a magical location, at The Elm Lester painting Rooms in St. Giles Circus. In addition we've created social media assets, print ads and in store window displays that feature the film's hero and are currently in John Lobb shoe shops around the globe.

Increasingly clients have turned to us to create much more than just the film, they want a memorable experience for their launch. In 2013 we set up a sister division of the business called Larger Than Life which concentrates on delivering these immersive experiences for brands, from projection mapping to runway shows, store openings and much more besides. It's an exciting to see our work displayed in such multifarious ways.