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

In this month’s Storyboard, a Renaissance for Huge, Wonky gets writer’s block and Stink heads to a swingers’ pool party

Huge designs
Da Vinci’s Demons titles
These are Huge Design’s titles for the second season of the Starz network’s US show Da Vinci’s Demons, a retelling of the life of Leonardo Da Vinci. The director of the titles was Paul McDonnell with art direction by Hugo Moss and Tamsin McGee. The lead illustrator was Nathan Mckenna and the composer Bear McCreary.

Da Vincis Demons titles season 2 from HUGE on Vimeo.

Titanfall intro movie
Spov mixed archive and cgi for its intro movie for the Xbox One First Person Shooter game, Titanfall
For the intro movie for innovative Xbox One multiplayer game, Titanfall, Spov’s Dan Higgot and Allen Leitch decided against the traditional “performance capture and dire dialogue” route often followed by game intros. Instead, the film is a mix of space-race archive and stunning cg vistas of alien worlds.
 “It was our job to put some meat on the bones of where the action’s happening and the universe it was all happening in,” says Spov founder Allen Leitch. “Respawn [the game’s developer] were adamant that it was a human universe the game was talking place in. It was our world not a parallel dimension. That’s why we kicked of with archive footage of the space race and life on Earth.”
The look and feel they wanted was “much more about describing the beauty of space,” says md Dan Higgot. “We’d actually watched Lawrence of Arabia when preparing the pitch thinking about the beautiful strange places on Earth that we could use to film this plausible alien environment, rather than making it fantastical or Star Trek-y.”
An influence also came from shots taken on Nasa’s Cassini mission to Saturn that had a “really peculiar and particular quality,” says Higgot. They had a “very subdued colour palette and a very clear light. Because it was authentic footage from space we felt that we could use it as part of our aesthetic. We weren’t trying to make science fiction but for it to look, to the best of our knowledge, like space travel would look like.”
The sparse subdued palette also extended to the script, which contains only a tiny amount of dialogue. “You need something enigmatic, not something overly expositional,” says Leitch. “We were pushing for it to be devoid of dialogue, but I can see why it needs to be there.”
“You have to be economical,” agrees Higgot. “You have to tell the right amount to set the scene but not too much. With this movie as with many others we had a back and forth conversation with the client about what should be in the script. There’s a tendency to want everything but if you have too many narrative points to hit it’s just rushed and overwhelming.”
And in the end, the client gave Spov a lot of space. “One of the main points in our brief was ‘don’t fuck it up.’ We’ve been assured that we didn’t,” says Leitch. “They trusted our judgement and vision and processes in terms of how we were going to make it look and what the final result was going to be. They placed a lot of confidence in us.”

Titanfall intro sequence from Spov Design + Moving Image on Vimeo.

Loud Like Love
This is Stink director Saman Kesh's latest video for Placebo for the track Loud Like Love. It's a follow up to last year's Too Many Friends and again features the voice of American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis who reveals another unfortunate sequence of details and events – this time at a 1960s swingers' 
pool party.

Placebo // Loud Like Love (feat. Bret Easton Ellis) from Saman Kesh on Vimeo.

Wonky Films
Writer’s Block
Writers’ Block is a short film written and directed by Tom Gran and Martin Woolley (AKA The Spin Kick Brothers) and produced by Wonky Films with the support of IdeasTap. Set in a prison for criminally poor writers, it follows a gang of cons who get hold of the script to their own lives and attempt to re-write it in order to make their escape.

three mobile
Blinkink’s The Layzell Brothers transformed real telephone conversations into a surreal animated series for Three Mobile through Wieden + Kennedy London. Clips were taken from real customers calling Three Mobile’s free compliment line, the nickname line, the time-wasting line and the lullaby line, and transformed into animated vignettes.

3 Mobile - Nicknaming from Blink on Vimeo.

3 Mobile - Compliment Line from Blink on Vimeo.

3 Mobile - Lullaby Line from Blink on Vimeo.

F1 opener
Intro designed the opener for BBC Sport’s 2014 Formula One coverage. Idris Elba voices the film that introduces the new era of turbo-charged, power-train-driven F1 cars which means F1 must be 'sculpted from scratch' with a new 'Goddess of Speed standing on the start-line ready to blow you away…' It was ordered by BBC Sport's Richard Gort and directed by Julian Gibbs.

F1 Australia Goddess of Speed from Intro on Vimeo.

Tiny Worlds
Tiny Worlds is an in-house project by the Rushes cg team and shows what  happens to the litter on London's streets when we're not looking.

Tiny Worlds // Bulldozer from Rushes on Vimeo.

Tiny Worlds // Submarine from Rushes on Vimeo.

Tiny Worlds // Logging Truck from Rushes on Vimeo.

Royal Observatory
These films, designed and directed by Beakus’ Amaël Isnard were aimed at young kids visiting the Royal Observatory.

How Do We Know How Old The Sun Is? from Beakus on Vimeo.

What's Inside A Black Hole? from Beakus on Vimeo.

How Big Is The Universe? from Beakus on Vimeo.

Jelly London
Hack a Chuck
Jelly London made this stop frame film to kickstart Converse’s dedicated  ‘Chuckhackers’ Google Plus page, dedicated to users’ films.

Converse #ChuckHack from Sam Burton on Vimeo.

Not to scale
T Galleria films
Not To Scale and Big Active’s Mat Maitland collaborated on six films for airport retailer T-Galleria featuring Karen Elson.

T Galleria Boutiques - Mat Maitland from Not To Scale on Vimeo.

T Galleria Boutiques - Hawaii from Not To Scale on Vimeo.

T Galleria Boutiques - Singapore from Not To Scale on Vimeo.

Posted 16 April 2014 by Jon Creamer

Dramatic and in tents

For BBC1’s WW1 drama about a military field hospital, the production team built a frontier town from scratch. Jon creamer reports

Writer and executive producer Sarah Phelps and production designer Cristina Casali explain how they brought a 1915 First World War field hospital to life with contemporaneous photographs, plans and diaries and US drama Deadwood as inspiration

How did you initially think the camp should look?
SP These hospitals grow like mushrooms. They start off in 1914 as a few tents, an operating theatre, a couple of wards and ‘we’ll be home by Christmas having spanked the Hun’s arse and sent him home without his tea.’ But they grow and grow. I looked at maps of hospitals and plans and by the end of 1918 they are like cities. So I thought about it like Deadwood in that every day it changes and grows and builds and gets new little nooks and crannies and dark corners where things happen. It’s such a rich environment. There’s always people coming in, and everyday people are leaving.

What about the detail of the camp?
SP It’s very ‘army’ but at the same time hotch-potch and mend-and-make-do. Everything’s stuck together and comes from other campaigns. They were these formal army spaces but people lived in them and amongst all this army discipline and teetering towers of paperwork there are odd little objet trouvé that people had picked up. Anywhere there’s a war there’s stuff left by the side of the road – pianos, an ornament or bits of china and it drifts its way into this formal military atmosphere of the hospital so it is both utterly army and at the same time messy and chaotic.

How did you find the location?
CC We went for a recce to Le Touquet in northern France. It’s this Victorian rich persons’ playground in the grounds of a beautiful pine forest. The sea and the pine forest were what we were looking for. Then we looked around Bath, Bristol and Wales. We eventually chose Charlton Park in Wiltshire because it has got a big pine forest, mature pines, and it’s quite flat. It worked really well. We did a fair bit of work to it, we put a big road in and then built our camp with its perimeter walls and tents and buildings.

What was the overall feel you wanted to create?
CC The feel I wanted to capture was that it was a frontier town, so everything’s made locally from the same type of wood. The camps had to be extremely organised in their layout and be as efficient as possible in terms of not wasting money so they have a starkness to them. From the photographs in The Imperial War Museum, it’s like watching Deadwood grow. There’s nothing in the distance just lines of tents going up. It’s the frontier and they’re pioneers, they’re making things with their hands out of bare wood. The photos we found in the Imperial War Museum were a constant source of inspiration. We had them all up in the design office and made a bible from them and distributed to them to everybody. I relied on them.

How did you find the medical equipment?
CC For the medical instruments there are people who collect stuff and they are willing to hire it out for close ups. There’s a lot around but there were various things we had to invent. Traction was just in its infancy. That was fun to try to work out. The start of the series is set so early in the war when everything was quite ad hoc. They had people in the UK knitting blankets and gloves and scarves and sending their old blankets and eiderdowns and things. It wasn’t just the bog standard get 500 beds all the same as they didn’t have enough resources to do that. There are plans and handbooks about setting up camps that we found but they are an idealised version of what really happened.

What about the tents and buildings themselves?
CC We were going to be outside in a field all through the summer, autumn and winter so the practicalities of filming had to be looked at. The tents had to be a certain weight as they had to survive us filming in them as well as the winter. They had to be completely watertight which most canvas tents aren’t so we used a new fabric that’s completely waterproof but looks like canvas. It’s made in Denmark and we had it made in various colours and then brought it over to a guy in Bradford who stitched it all together. He had to pattern cut each tent. When they arrived on set they were crisp and lovely so we had to break them down and age them.

The Crimson Field is BBC1’s First World War drama set in a burgeoning field hospital in northern France in the early days of the war.
BBC Drama Production
BBC executive producer
Anne Pivcevic
Writer and executive producer
Sarah Phelps
Commissioned by
BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson and Danny Cohen (when BBC1 controller)
Suranne Jones, Oona Chaplin, Hermione Norris, Kerry Fox
Annie Tricklebank
David Evans, Richard Clark and Thaddeus O’Sullivan
David Head, Peter Oliver, Victoria Boydell
Rob Lane
Vince Narduzzo
Tim Flemning, Matt Gray
Production designer
Cristina Casali
Post production
Outpost Facilities
Arri Alexa

Posted 04 April 2014 by Jon Creamer
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