Coming Soon… Chris Ryan’s Strike Back

During the past 5 weeks or so I have been working on some VFX shots for Strike Back, soon appearing on Sky 1 and Sky 1 HD. Trailers and teasers have appeared on TV and inevitably Youtube and pals. Myself, Sascha Fromeyer and Ashley Hampton, have been beavering away on all manner of things.
I’m looking forward to watching this. All of my contributions to this are in Episode 5, so I know what happens in that and the final episode and have no idea what happens at the start!

Strike Back is based on a novel by Chris Ryan, set in the Middle-East and filmed in South Africa. It’s a hostage situation and my God… it’s cool. Watch it.

2010 VFX Reel

After what seems like an eternity of promising it’s on its way, the VFX reel has arrived. A fair amount of this is new to the site. Some of the new content relates directly to previous posts on TV shows that have been on in the past year.

The 2010 reel is also available as a quicktime. Right click here and select Save As.

Reel - Click to Watch

Tunnelling a television!

Finally I can say this is practically where I want it to be. There are a couple of niggly bits to do with the background footage which I may tackle if and when I get the spare time to do so, but for now I’m going to say it’s done. Thanks ever so much to those who have given me feedback on this one. I’ve been working on it on and off in my spare time for over a year so it feels like time to move onto something new now and get this into my show reel.

Taxi Wire Removal – The Fattest Man in Britain

This is a breakdown of a short sequence made for an ITV drama called The Fattest Man in Britain. The taxi has a rig following it that holds the camera in a fixed position above the taxi, looking down on it. Unfortunately this kind of rig needs stabilising and in this case 2 cables were run to the front of the taxi. A slight issue there is that the 2 cables were now visible in 4 separate shots.

I tracked each shot in Syntheyes bringing the 3D data into Softimage. Simple 3D geometry was put in place with camera projected textures, individually airbrushed so that the wire was removed in each. When rendered and comped with mattes, the cables were no longer an issue.

wire_removal

Sun Quiz Live is now… live!

sunquiz

Sun Quiz Live is an interactive online show much like the quiz shows on tv but better thanks to a slick point and click interface and live text chat. You can even make some money off of it. No, I don’t get royalties.

I was drafted in at relatively late stages of this project to create a virtual studio for use behind the presenters. The kit powering the live chroma keying, switching between cameras and sets, is Newtek’s Tricaster system. Consequently, this meant using Lightwave, another Newtek product, to create the 3D sets. Well, technically. The plug-in for producing the end files only works with Lightwave. After a few experiments it became clear that it was quicker to use my knowledge of Mental Ray in Softimage vs learning the Lightwave renderer which appeared inadequate for our needs. A quick work around was to build the entire set in Softimage and move it into Lightwave complete with baked in textures and lighting.

I was pleased with the results, but I still think that set would be ruined by a bit of rain.

Apologies for those who dislike fuzzy looking jpegs. The image above is a screengrab of the video.

www.sunquizlive.co.uk

BBC 4 Electric Dreams

electric_dreams

Last night, a new 3 parter started on BBC 4 for which I did the title sequence. It’s a tunnel of disembodied electric items roughly in order of when they came about or at least became popular.  I put this together in a 3d composite in After Effects, made out of many many photographs, timed roughly to the music (Human League. Who could predict that?)  Three versions of the sequence exist. Each is the same bar the ending which is themed for the 70s, 80s, and 90s respectively.

The show itself was interesting stuff. A technology obsessed family has their house converted to a 70s theme with no central heating, one bathroom and nary a modern gadget in sight. As the week goes on they are allowed such luxuries as a freezer in the kitchen, a colour TV (which promptly breaks), and a teasmade (yes that’s spelt correctly). Next week is the 80s, then the 90s the following week.

In my opinion this show works best as a study in family social behaviour rather than a trip down memory lane. The target audience of BBC 4 is old enough to remember all of it. Living in the 90s wasn’t that different technologically speaking to now so I’m interested to see how the family sticks together as they get closer and closer to the current decade.

Check it out on iplayer if you fancy and be sure to have a nose around the supporting website, made by Illumina, the same company I put together the title sequence for.

[no longer on iplayer]

Official website

http://www.bbc.co.uk/electricdreams/

Waking The Dead continues…

gemma

Following on from the previous post, this week’s episodes of Waking The Dead on BBC1 focussed on the story of Gemma, a girl raped twice then thrown off a bridge, and somehow surviving with a few broken bones and a shattered pelvis.

I worked on one shot for this, the falling stunt Gemma. A digital stunt double works out cheaper, and safer than a real one.

Being how she is seen at a distance I was able to get away with modifying a pre-existing female model straight out of Poser. I reduced the detail level to something managable, altered the overall shape to match the adjacent shots and set about animating using a slightly modified default rig in Softimage. Once that was cleared as being fine, the hair and clothes were added, the whole lot rendered out and passed on to Sascha for compositing.

[no longer on iplayer]

Waking The Dead begins…

flies

Series 8 of Waking The Dead started last night on BBC 1, here in the UK.

Around the 17 minute mark, 2 people go inside a building and get many cg flies thrown in their direction, created by my fair hand, animated one at a time in XSI, composited in After Effects by Sascha Fromeyer of The Green Apple variety.

More to come on this show… Hopefully show reel rights, who knows?

Human Centipede shown at Frightfest!

centipede2

Update: SEQUEL

Film 4’s Frightfest was on again this year at the Empire in London’s Leicester Square.

I was one of a few freelancers lucky enough to work on Tom Six’s ‘Human Centipede’, a thoroughly odd concept for a film. I briefly mentioned this in a previous post, incorrectly referring to it as the Human Caterpillar. I guess a caterpillar does seem slightly cuter than a centipede! The rough premise for this is that a surgeon, previously separating siamese twins for a living, is now collecting people to build a centipede where each person’s mouth is stitched to the anus of the person in front. Yup. You read that correctly.

My part in this was to fix a few things in After Effects that couldn’t be sorted on set. The lady above is having her teeth removed in order to facilitate the passage of waste from the person in front. In that instance is was up to me to remove teeth from the 3 shots involved. The rest was mostly tracking stuff, and a few blood spatters, but there were a couple of time consuming shots involving animating a load of rain drops on a car window. The shots were filmed out of sequence on a night when it genuinely was raining, but some were missing the obvious rain drops one expects from having just driven through rain. The best bit about this was Tom Six saying something like “Rain from a rain machine always looks shit. Nothing like rain,” a statement I highly agree with. Lovely guy. The kind of person you wouldn’t expect to come up with a film about stitching people together in a chain.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1467304/
http://www.frightfest.co.uk/09films/film17.html

iScience wins RTS Award!

original_television_programme_for_use_in_schools_winners_small

BBC iScience, which had already won the award for most interesting project I’d worked on, won the 2009 Royal Television Society Award for a television program for use in schools. I didn’t know this was up for an award so it’s a pleasant surprise! Here’s what RTS had to say:

“…a well-produced entry which stimulates, challenges and moves students to engage in both hard and soft science in a way that would definitely add value to the classroom experience.”

Presumably this Prof. Tanya Byron saying this as she hosted the night.

Congratulations to all involved at Illumina Digital!

For a look at clips of the show, click here. I did all the cel-shaded animations, DNA mutations and anything involving little molecules flying about, colliding, causing pollution and so on.

I remember many of the science programs at school being old OU recordings on wonky VHS tape, played via ageing Ferguson Videostars. iScience trumps these on many levels, so the award is a well deserved accolade. I actually did all 3 sciences at school in GCSE and still learnt things producing work for this show.

The RTS have a list of all winners on their official site.

Sole Director of AJCGI LTD, Freelance 3D Artist for TV and Film, based near Ashford International, commutable from London