Few toys are as unusual and imaginative as Spin Master’s Kinetic Sand, which entices kids to be hands-on as they turn sand into magical creations that are as fun to squash as they are to create. Equally imaginative is the new :15 ad “Magic In Your Hands” featuring memorable 3D animation from Calabash Animation, the award-winning creative studio led by Creative Director Wayne Brejcha and Executive Producer Sean Henry.

“Magic In Your Hands” opens with an attention-grabbing 3D animated sequence as the live action kids grab the Kinetic Sand and squish it in their hands, activating a series of colorfully animated sand creations that pop up out of nowhere as the kids watch in amazement. What starts out as a boring white room is quickly transformed by the appearance of an animated purple sand castle complete with a moat and sea monster, surrounded by trees, flowers and various other Kinetic Sand sculptures.

“The sand creations are whimsical and fun, representing what the kids imagine they will create with this fabulous stuff,” Brejcha says. “The animation was designed to mimic a classic stop-motion technique where you start with the whole sculpture, slice bits off of it as you shoot successive frames and play the results in reverse to watch the sculpture assemble. We made the building motion intentionally staccato with limited use of motion blur to help simulate the stop motion feel. The overall feel is playful without being overpowered by the digital effects.”

Brejcha explains that the Calabash 3D team based the CG effects on digital concepts and several rounds of practical and CG tests. The entire architectural space where the kids are standing was a computer creation, which gave the CG artists total control over the overall look. They worked closely with director Jordan Barker of Gearshift Productions, Toronto, to stay close to his original vision of how the effects would interact with the kids and the surrounding space. 

“Our first rough animatics went through multiple iterations until we knew we had the right approach,” Brejcha adds. “As we were developing the pre-vis, our CG artists were developing the techniques to create the objects and effects forming spontaneously as the kids appear to initiate the transformation. We referred heavily to the physical product and photos of sand sculptures to create the same look.”

Henry notes that this project marks the ninth time Calabash has collaborated with Spin Master, and because of it the studio has developed a strong understanding of the brand and their creative approach.

“We enjoy working with Spin Master and appreciate their trust in us to produce memorable key visuals,” Henry says. “We have great synergy with the Spin Master creative overall and it’s enjoyable to create spots that are so fun to watch.” 

Click here to watch “Magic In Your Hands” spot: https://calabashanimation.wistia.com/medias/64ch671z31

Creative Credits

Client: Spin Master, Toronto
Project: Kinetic Sand “Magic In Your Hands” ad (:15)
Agency: In-house/Spin Master

3D Animation: Calabash Animation, Chicago, IL
Creative Director: Wayne Brejcha
Executive Producer: Sean Henry

Production: Gearshift Productions, Toronto
Director: Jordan Barker

About Calabash Animation
Led by Creative Director Wayne Brejcha and Executive Producer Sean Henry, Calabash Animation is the Chicago, IL-based animation production studio known for its award-winning animation for the advertising and entertainment industries. Calabash Animation is perhaps best known for their creative character animation and development of some of America’s most beloved brand icons. In addition to it advertising working, the company has also produced several acclaimed short films, including ‘’Stubble Trouble,’’ which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002. Click here for more info about Calabash Animation: http://www.calabashanimation.com/