Kids are returning to school after a long summer break. It’s a new year. A new start. New faces too. And every kid wants to make a lasting impression.

Working in collaboration with Impact BBDO, F&E created this colourful school chalkboard inspired commercial for retailer Centrepoint. The commercial was created using a mixed media approach. Our creative combined live-action footage, chalk illustrations, 2D and stopframe animation. All brought together into an energetic sequence designed to showcase the retailer's Back to School Collection.

The Story

The narrative focuses on two children who make an epic entrance on their first day back at school. The sequence begins as their hand-drawn yellow school bus pulls up and the kids emerge from behind it. From here they stride confidently towards the huge illustrated school gates.

During their grand entrance, the camera cuts to a close up of their shiny shoes, bags and perfectly crisp uniform. Eagerly observed by an illustrated crowd of school kids, a marching band and friendly teachers. They all watch on in awe, looking like fans of these young rock stars! As the narrative builds, fireworks burst and banners unfurl as the kids enter school. "Making an Impression" as they begin their first day, wearing Centrepoint's "Back to School" collection.

Centrepoint Commercial: Our Process

As a mixed media creative, there were four main elements needed to create this commercial:


Our first task was to create a realistic chalkboard illustration style. These illustrations and textures would form the setting for the whole animation. We developed character designs and background elements, all drawn in chalk. Creating that instantly recognisable school inspired backdrop to set the scene.

Chalkboard illustrations formed the backdrop to our commercial.


When bringing the chalkboard style illustrations to life, it was important the animation complimented this hand-drawn medium. To create this realism, we combined After Effects animation with stopframe animation. Using real textures and movement to enhance the tactile look of the settings and characters.

Characters were animated predominately using a combination of cel animation and After Effects. While background elements such as flying ticker-tape, bursting fireworks and animating shadows were created using chalk illustrated stop-frame animation.

Fireworks: A chalkboard stopframe element appearing the the commercial.

Live-Action Shoot

Arguably the most important part of the commercial were our hero characters! The young rock-stars showing off all the Centrepoint back to school products. After casting our two main characters, we headed to a greenscreen studio. Using a treadmill and a carefully planned out journey we directed our young actors. Perfectly timing their sequence so they could react and integrate seamlessly into what would become the chalkboard world. We shot each young star separately, creating their own narrative.

Imagining the chalkboard surroundings and reacting to invisible elements, all whilst maintaining a firm path on the treadmill was no mean feat! But our young stars took it all in their stride…

Compositing, Sound Design & Post Production

All the separate elements animated, shot, keyed, graded and edited. Tick. The final step was to combine all of these elements into one grand finale! Using parallax and careful compositing we grounded the characters into their chalkboard world. To match the stopframe animated elements, we reduced the frame-rate of the live-action footage. This helped enhance that hand-crafted feel of the commercial.

The high-energy rock track was cut and sound effects added for key moments of action. We also created an additional Arabic version of the ad. Completing this back to school journey with a fun and lively commercial, encapsulating that back to school feeling