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Storyboard: best of the month in vfx, animation and motion graphics

In this month’s round up of the best in animation, motion graphics and vfx, Momoco gets its teeth into Dracula, Trunk folds over Jaguar and Gorgeous twists reality for Honda

Dracula titles

Designer and director Nic Benns created the opening sequence for Carnival Films’ Sky Living/ NBC drama Dracula starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers.The titles use a shadow puppet theatre concept that introduces the show’s characters and Victorian London. Threads run outward from each figure while cogs turn in the periphery of the screen and the reveal shows Dracula manipulating everything and everyone in the city. The process involved a greenscreen shoot with Jonathan Rhys Myers while backlit silhouettes and lace elements were shot on trace then composited with 3D models in After Effects.

DRACULA Titles from MOMOCO Film Titles on Vimeo.

Honda spot

Chris Palmer of Gorgeous is behind the launch spot for Honda’s new SUV and its  ‘surprisingly’ low emissions and high fuel efficiency and is made up of a series of optical illusions that make “the impossible possible.” The agency was McGarry Bowen and post was at The Mill. The grade was by Seamus O’Kane and it was cut by Paul Watts at The Quarry.

Honda Illusions, An Impossible Made Possible - New CR-V 1.6 Diesel Video from Rodrigo Alvarez Yanes on Vimeo.

Blue Zoo
Rugby league

Blue-Zoo directed this trail for BBC Sport’s coverage of the Rugby League World Cup 2013 following on from the ad it created for the Rugby League Challenge Cup. It stars stylised giant low-polygon rugby characters that invade the UK and battle it out for the trophy. Modelling and animating in Maya was led by Dan Edgely and it was composited in After Effects by Charlie Batho.

BBC Sport - Rugby League World Cup 2013 from Blue Zoo on Vimeo.

Jaguar film

This paper and pencil film is director Rok Predin’s latest for Jaguar. FP Creative ordered a film for the new Jaguar C-X17’s global debut at the Frankfurt motor show that showed off its new all-aluminium technical architecture. The piece is a mix of hand-rendered 2D lines with 3D rendered elements. It was produced by Richard Barnett.

Jaguar C-X17 from Trunk Animation on Vimeo.

Chocolat Luxe

MPC was behind the stunning effects in RSA director Johnny Hardstaff’s latest spot for new Bailey’s Chocolat Luxe drink. The smoke effects, underwater models and cascading chocolate rivers were made from an  amalgamation of shot elements, live action and CG. The agency was 101 London. Producer was Tim Wild and the grade was by George K.

Baileys Chocolat Luxe / Forming 60" from 101 London on Vimeo.

Dia De Los Muertos
Ticktockrobot’s Simon Armstrong directed this film, written by Ben Young Mason, for Houston Symphony’s multimedia concert experience.

Short film Mute explores a world populated by people born without a mouth. It’s directed and created by Job, Joris & Marieke.

Creative Nuts
Sky Challenge

Creative Nuts’ rebrand for Sky Challenge  has a series of characters  watching TV together that portray the range of shows on Challenge.

Challenge Ident - Muscle from Creative Nuts on Vimeo.

This is S4C show NiDiNi [We’R’Us] where real kids talking about their lives are animated. It was directed and produced by Hywel Griffith.

Posted 13 November 2013 by Jon Creamer

Small screen drama: shooting from a kid's perspective

Kids indie Darrall Macqueen had to shoot fast and low when turning Topsy and Tim into Cbeebies’ first ever live action drama. Maddy Darrall tells Jon Creamer how it was done

Darrall Macqueen was tasked with making a show that spoke directly to three to six year olds by keeping the child characters centre stage. That meant finding a filming style that would be on their level, and would be quick enough and flexible enough to keep performances fresh as well as fitting in with the limited hours they could be on set.

A child actor’s time on set is very limited, how did you work around that?
We’ve filmed with this age range before but never as leads and that’s the difference. We made a commitment they would be in every scene and we had to come up with ways of achieving that because the limitations on filming with such young children are quite restrictive.

How did you keep the kids’ performances fresh?
How we would cast it and film it was really considered upfront before we started writing. We knew we wanted the kids to be on screen in every scene, and that we would need to build a set and find a way of filming them which meant they could go almost anywhere on the set and treat it as a real house.

How is the set designed?
We’ve built a set that mirrors a real house location we found. We used translight backdrops so it feels very real and we’re not entering too much into the world of soap. We have lit it so you can shoot 360 degrees and the children can literally go anywhere they like without there being problems.

Is it important not to give the child actors too much structure? 
We cast seven year olds to play five year olds. I don’t know how much you can expect a seven year old to really act at that age. It’s more a propensity towards being able to take a story and a feeling into their brains and being able to portray that with a large group of adults around you with cameras pointing at you. What we didn’t want was to stop that flow and naturalism. The way we shoot is very different from most adult dramas. It’s very improvised. We block the cameras and the adult artists but we never rehearse on set with the children. They come in, they know their lines and we go for it and we try to capture it on their first take. They can go anywhere they like, they can do what they like, pick up what they like. The adult actors have been cast deliberately so they can fill the gaps and improvise around what the children might career off doing. That’s given us something really natural.

How is it shot?
We’re shooting on one main camera, which for a first pass is on their faces primarily. We’ve got at least one camera hidden behind a trap. We tend to come round for a second pass immediately and do the whole scene again from a 180-degree angle so it feels a bit more drama than fly on the wall. We haven’t gone too hand-held. We weren’t trying to create a zoo TV feel. The camera is quite considered.

How did you get the camera down to the child’s eye view?
Everything’s shot at a metre height and we really stick to that with no exceptions. We ended up customising an electric wheelchair to make a dolly (nicknamed “Betty” by the crew). It was constructed by our DoP, Simon Reay, who was looking for a way to film at a metre high, and follow the child cast around set but with a different feel to the more usual choices of handheld on an Easyrig or via Steadicam.

Why not just use Steadicam?
We could have gone Steadicam though that probably would have cost us a bit more than we could have afforded on a regular basis. But even with Easyrig cameras or handheld they tend to very much keep up with the kids so they’re moving with the kids all the time. The wonderful thing about this improvised dolly is it’s just fractionally behind them, so we’re always giving the impression it’s not a camera led show and that the kids are in charge of whatever we’re doing. It’s quite subliminal but you can really tell when you watch an episode that that’s what we’ve set out to do.

Did kids TV budgets also inform the need to move fast?
It’s a tight ship, which is again why we had to develop a shooting style that helped us do that. The adult actors have never filmed on anything so fast. They’ve got to be on their toes. It’s like live TV or theatre for them where you’ve got one chance. As well as doing drama, our camera and sound team have all worked in documentary. That’s a really useful starting point. We felt we needed people who understood not just how to make soap or drama, but people who are much more able to go with the flow and react.               

CBeebies’ first live action drama, Topsy and Tim, is based on the original 1960s books by Jean and Gareth Adamson that feature a brother and sister and their everyday lives. Baby Jake indie Darrall Macqueen shot the 60x11-minute series at Twickenham studios.
11th November
Production Company
Darrall Macqueen
Kay Benbow, CBeebies controller
Richard Bradley, Jack Jameson, Matt Holt
Production design
Anthony Howells
Simon Reay
Dave Ingham, Diane Whitley, Gillian Corderoy, Chris Parker, Laura Summer
Fiona Robinson
Exec producers
Maddy Darrall, Billy Macqueen for Darrall Macqueen. Michael Towner for CBeebies
Twickenham Studios
The Farm
Sony F3 recording on to AJA Kia Pro Mini 422 ProRes HQ

Posted 13 November 2013 by Jon Creamer
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