Direct Savings 3d Animation

January 24th, 2012

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A nice wintry advert that’s been showing on STV recently.

The original ad that Direct Savings were using showed how loft and cavity wall insulation actually worked, in a particularly dry style. So the idea was to inject a bit of personality and life into the 3d proceedings and not get too wrapped up in the technicalities. Who cares how it works? It’s going to keep your house warm!

File under ‘cheap and cheerful.’

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Sky HD Slow Motion

February 26th, 2010

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This is a selection of shots that I treated for Sky HD using extreme slow motion and time distortion techniques which are part of their ongoing promotional campaign.

The technique involves manipulating time by accelerating and decelerating speeds in various ways on specific bits of footage. The shots here are unedited and I’ve just included various clips that I liked. Obviously these were rendered in high definition and are meant to be viewed on a large HDTV screen and not in a miniscule browser window, but you get the idea.

Sadly there’s no way of actually slowing down time in real life.

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Motion Graphics With Projection Screens

January 27th, 2010

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These are examples of scenes that I created for the History of the Devil a while back. The idea was to show little stylised vignettes of various demons, angels and fairies as they were discussed. The documentary used a toy theatre theme throughout so it made sense to put the characters within the theatre.

We used front and back projection screens to create the effect, combining live actors with virtual sets. The 3d graphic theatre backdrops were designed and animated then back projected from a dvd onto an enormous screen behind the performers (Lauren Lamarr and Mark Donnelly).

We also placed a second mesh screen between the camera and the performers and used front projection to cast another layer of motion graphics onto. The set looked amazing. What you see here are the basic rushes, there’s nothing added, and the overall effect is a bit like moving 3d stills.

See also The History Of The Devil.

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The Scots That Rocked

January 1st, 2010

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Blink and you’ll miss it, but this is the little ident I produced for STV’s (Scottish Television) hogmanay show ‘The Scots That Rocked.’  The interesting thing about this one is that this was not the original sequence or title that I was commissioned to produce.

Producer/director Dani Carlaw was making a documentary about how Scottish people seem to excel on talent shows such as the X Factor, what with Susan Boyle having recently cracked the American market. The programme was to be called ‘The Scots Factor’ and the opening titles were to parody the glitzy, light-entertainment look of the X Factor, using the cross of the saltire in place of the X.

So the original titles looked like this:

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However, I had no sooner finished this sequence just before Christmas when I was told that it was unlikely to be used – ITV, which licences STV for central and northern Scotland, was threatening STV with legal action over the show.

I didn’t see the problem myself – it wasn’t a talent show, it was a documentary and it’s in the nature of parody to mimic the look of the thing being parodied. But STV and ITV have ongoing legal wrangles and this just seemed to make everyone nervous. Poor Dani had a very hard time keeping the legal department happy.

But what do I care. I liked the original sequence too so I include it here for your delectation and delight. Unless Simon Cowell gets litigious.

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Battle For Korea (2001)

August 28th, 2009

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After we created the original Battlefield documentary series and then Battlefield Vietnam in the 90’s, producer Dave Flitton was asked to give the Battlefield treatment to the Korean War. The result was this 2-hour documentary which sadly doesn’t seem to have been as widely seen as its predecessors. I say ‘sadly’ because I remember it being really good. It also seems to have been renamed a couple of times – I’ve seen it advertised as ‘Battlezone Korea’ and others.

Like the previous series, this was entirely made up of archive footage and graphics, so for the title sequence I created this montage of treated shots and animated text, and built it around the theme music.

As my postcard for its premiere shows, it went out on PBS on August 1st 2001.

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Scotland At The Movies

March 23rd, 2009

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Scotland At The Movies was a one-off documentary made by STV and broadcast at peak time on March 22nd 2009. The programme focused on four Scottish films: Gregory’s Girl, Whisky Galore!, Heavenly Pursuits, and Comfort and Joy, and featured interviews with Bill Forsyth, Claire Grogan, Tom Conti and Bill Paterson.

I used the pop-up technique for this title sequence, taking all the promo stills I was given and cutting them up to form an animated collage.

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Battlefield Vietnam (1998)

March 1st, 2009

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I was the senior designer on the PBS documentary series ‘Battlefield Vietnam’ which took two years to make and was finally released in 1998. The series was commissioned on the back of the original Second World War series ‘Battlefield’ which we – I was a freelancer working for Lamancha Productions in Edinburgh Scotland – had previously made between 1994-96.

For anyone interested in a little web history, you can find the original website I created for TimeLife Video in 1999 here at Battlefield Vietnam.

The series was a major technical challenge for me as each of the twelve one-hour long episodes had a large number of graphics all of which required rendering – a big deal in those days. So even the logistics involved were tricky. On top of that we had to make sense of most of the major battles fought during the ‘10,000 day war’ and illustrate troop movements and guerilla warfare. Just to give an idea of the level of detail required by the producer Dave Flitton, some of the fighting was done on individual neighbouring hills, each of which had to be accurate in relative scale and be named according to original sources.

The Khe Sanh episodes involved such extremes of scale in the maps, going from the whole of South East Asia to being able to see details of the base itself within the same graphic, that we made maps within maps within maps. It probably doesn’t sound much now but all the graphics were done on a couple of very early Pentiums. Wow it’s got a 2gb hard disk, I thought.

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The History of the Devil

March 1st, 2009

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In directing this documentary for TG4 in Ireland, I used extensive 3d graphics because of the abstract nature of the subject. I had to find lots of tricks and techniques to bring the story to life without spending millions. “A fantastic, richly illustrated documentary” – Dublin Evening News.

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The Knights Templar

February 12th, 2009

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Commissioned by the Discovery Channel, The Knights Templar was a 4-part mini-series. This title sequence, which was also used extensively for promotional purposes, was intended to show the right balance between mystery, opulence and medieval times. I storyboarded this on paper prior to shooting and then cut the sequence with various animated graphics elements.

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Dr. Bunhead’s Big Wobbly Molecule Show

February 2nd, 2009

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Professional mad scientist Dr. Bunhead is a regular contributor to BBC children’s programmes. I used his own hand-drawn self-portrait and just had some fun with it. Although it looks like traditional animation, this was actually created in a 3d programme, and really shows just how versatile 3d design can be.

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