Play Siptopia

In the heat of the summer, the right cold beverage can be a huge relief. The handcrafted, high-quality beverages from Wawa, however, can be transformative, bringing customers into an infectious world full of happiness called “Siptopia.” Advertising agency Brownstein Group envisioned a fantastical concept in which, upon sipping a drink from Wawa, people see their happiness reflected in the world around them as they were surrounded by cheerful animated animals and swirling ingredients. To help shape and populate this magical world, Brownstein Group’s creative team collaborated with production company Sweet Rickey, editorial shop Editbar, and Nice Shoes Creative Studio, who partnered to bring together a full-service team of creatives to shoot, edit, animate, and color grade two spots in which happiness is found in every sip.

The Nice Shoes team, led by Creative Director Harry Dorrington, was first tasked with designing characters that had the charm and feel of traditional hand-drawn animation.

“Each character needed to convey a feeling of euphoria and over-the-top happiness. We looked to classic films for inspiration - movies where live action and animation were brought together in gleeful, musical moments,” said Dorrington. “Taking a sip of one of Wawa’s beverages acts as a portal to a playful, joyful world, and it was important to get the look of these characters right to evoke those feelings as viewers entered Siptopia.”

Once the character designs were approved, Dorrington and the Nice Shoes team worked closely with Sweet Rickey director Max Gutierrez to plan out the choreography of the live action actors with the animated characters and swirling ingredients. They began by creating an animated previs of the spots to explore timing, and then during the shoot in Atlanta, Nice Shoes VFX Supervisor Adrian Winter was on set with cut out versions of the characters to help with shot composition as well as to give the actors an eyeline and sense of scale of their new animated friends.

When Editbar had completed the live action cut, Nice Shoes began animating. First with traditionally drawn line tests, which were scanned and inked digitally. Once the animation was finished, colored, and composited into the scene, additional highlights and shadows to fully integrate the characters into the environment were included. Project lead Andy Zazzera developed a toon shader rendering the 3D effects in a 2D style, while CG artist Yongji Chen developed an animation in Houdini to bring the swirls of sparkling ingredients to life. Finally colorist Sal Malfitano worked to create a vibrant look that added to the colorful energy generated by the collision of the live action and animated worlds.

“The team at Brownstein Group invited us to join them in executing a really wonderful concept. It was a pleasure revisiting the style and charm of hand-drawn animation,” added Dorrington.


Client: Wawa

Agency: Brownstein Group

Design/Animation/Color Grading: Nice Shoes

Creative Director: Harry Dorrington

Project Lead: Andy Zazzera

VFX Supervisor/Compositor: Adrian Winter

Character Design: Nicole Morciniec, Yandong Qiu

Particle Animation: Yongji Chen

Animators: Darlie Brewster, Wendy Perdue

Clean Up and Inbetween : Shannon Sauve, Debbie Spafford, Donald Parmele, Trevor Tamboline, Leticia Lichtwardt, Marshall Toomey, Debbie Armstrong

Compositors: Christine O’Connor, Kemal Alley

Animation Editor: Talia Mazzarella

Colorist: Sal Malfitano

Producers: Russ Dube, Matt Hubert

Head of Production: Nancy Giandomenico

Executive Producer: Angela Bowen

Production: Sweet Rickey

Director: Max Gutierrez

EP: Vanessa Lonborg

Editorial: Editbar

Editor: Charlie Coffou

EP: Phoebe Cole