St. James’s Place – Wealth Management
St. James’s Place
An animation to describe the St. James’s Place approach to investment management.
St. James’s Place is the UK’s largest Wealth Manager and a FTSE 100 company offering financial services to individuals and their families.
They wanted to create unique visual communication around the value they add to clients’ lives across the following areas:
• Financial advice offered
• Investments & funds they provide access to
• How they help clients meet their financial objectives.
An important part of the animation was to simplify & describe their approach to investment management. They offer multiple funds run by investment experts from all over the world and we were tasked to explain how and why St. James’s Place outsources that expertise. We also had to demonstrate how St. James’s Place select, monitor and change fund managers as required; while sharing the work of their investment committee and the role of their external consultants to help inform decisions.
We decided to develop a hybrid style of animation by filming our client (subject matter expert) first, and by using a rotoscoping technique (frame by frame tracing of the film footage) we gave the character movement a natural film quality. This, in turn, created a relaxed documentary style interview piece with different hard cut camera framing techniques. This provides a human approach to the narrative while presenting the topic in a unique way.
The second component feature shapes and graphics that aid understanding by visualising more complex points using an infographic visual language and style we developed.
As mentioned previously, the decision to film Andy on location at our studio was a fantastic way to gain quality reference footage, however, it meant there would be the potential for inferior audio quality due to the acoustics and other background noise interference.
To avoid this and ensure flawless audio quality, we decided to record Andy’s voiceover in a studio sound booth. We then used this audio during filming to attain similar timings to Andy’s lines.
Knowing that we would only be using the film footage as a guide for the animation, minor timing discrepancies between the audio and the lip-sync in the footage were ironed out during the animation process.
We built a lounge area in our studio to carry out the filming element of the piece. By not requiring pin-drop silence for the filming, it helped provide a more laid-back atmosphere which carried through into Andy’s performance.
We ran through the script a few times and referenced it against the pacing of the studio-recorded audio to ensure it didn’t differ too greatly. Using two DSLR cameras allowed us to reference and pick different head to camera shots for use in the final animation.
The interview segments of the animation were created with a blend of techniques. We found that sometimes straightforward rotoscoping (drawing over the top of footage) can lead to an aesthetic that is hollow and appears machine-made rather than feeling organically animated and natural. In order to produce something that felt closer to natural movement, the footage was used more as a guide and the team provided the creative license to tweak the human gestures.
2D & 3D Animation
The graphical elements of the animation were created using both 2D & 3D animation. The principle was to compare the innovative processes of SJP (realised in 3D), with the rigid and dated systems of their competitors (realised in 2D). It was important that, although different, both facets fit well within the same animation, whilst also blending seamlessly with the interview elements. The colour palette, grain texture and angled lines utilised across all components helped to achieve this unique visual language.