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Chris Randall

Building Passchendaele in 360

By | 360, Compositing, Virtual Reality, Visual Effects | No Comments

‘Months without music…’

This summer the Royal British Legion commissioned a series of 8 films to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele. We were privileged to be asked to create one such film portraying life behind the lines. As the film reveals, soldiers created their own entertainment to escape the drudgery of life in the trenches, putting on shows and concerts as a means of keeping up morale. Considering what soldiers in WWI had to endure, it was fascinating to learn about the methods they used to entertain themselves. Music featured heavily in alleviating the awful depression suffered by so many soldiers. One interview makes for poignant listening as the veteran describes hearing one song as ‘the most beautiful thing he’d heard in his life’ having gone months without hearing any music at all.

‘Creeping paint’ transitions were used to introduce archive shots as pop-up images.

Recreating a Forgotten Battleground

Using archive footage, interviews and photographs, the brief required us to create an immersive experience for 360-degree viewing. This presented its own unique set of challenges given that, for obvious reasons, no footage or stills captured between 1914-18 is VR-ready. The nature of the piece, narrated by Dan Snow for Ballista Media, was forgiving enough to adopt a photo-montage, scrapbook-type feel. The master backgrounds were artworked from multiple photographic references in order to stretch to the equirectangular space, necessary for compositing.

An equirectangular interpretation of the WWI battlefield.

The other challenge is having no guarantee that your viewer won’t be looking in the opposite direction to an important piece of archive material. To get around this we tried to make archive material appear and disappear sequentially from left-to-right and back again to steer the viewer. Not always easy when different bits of footage start and stop at different times. Following the lead of Louis Hudson from Dice Productions, who created the template film, the project was turned around within 3 days. Producer Joe Bell has also written a great piece with some tips about creating content for 360.

(Inset) Theatre and cabaret behind the lines: both makeshift and and outlandish.

(Inset) Gambling was frowned upon, but was hard to enforce.

This was a truly fascinating project and such a rare opportunity to apply ourselves in commemorating the sacrifice made by so many people a century ago. It was humbling to know that the films were being viewed both by young cadets and veterans of WWI on the date of the commemoration: 31st July 2017.

(Left) Chelsea Pensioners viewing the 360 films. (Right) A young cadet looks ‘skywards’

International Win for ‘Tweedy & Fluff’

By | Awards, Festivals, International, stop-motion, Tweedy & Fluff | No Comments

Second Home Studios and Stitchy Feet win Grand Prize at Seoul Promotion Plan Conference 2017.

This summer we went long haul to the Seoul Promotion Plan conference in South Korea to pitch our series-in-development, Tweedy & Fluff. This is a pre-school stop-motion animation, created by children’s author Corrinne Averiss, with Cbeebies as its primary broadcast sponsor. The project was invited as a list minute finalist into the international pitching rounds and was unique both in that it was the only project from the UK and also the only stop-motion offering on the schedule. Chris Randall represented this co-production between Second Home Studios and Stitchy Feet, which is ostensibly about a child and their first pet.

The Winning Pitch

The 10 minute pitch involved a storybook-style start followed by a lighthearted tour of the characters’ world. There was also a reasoning for why, in such a busy world, a show which instils nurturing qualities is important for young viewers. There also featured some bespoke animation featuring the two main characters especially produced for the Korean hosts, which made a funny and fitting end to the presentation. The awards were announced on Thursday 6th June and Tweedy & Fluff was announced as the Grand Prize Winner. As well as a trophy, the show also received $15,000 USD which will go a long way towards further developing the project as it moves closer towards closing the necessary finance and a green light for production.

 

Photoreal Passion Project, Pug ‘Sculpted’ In Clay

By | CGI, Computer Modelling, Design, Modelmaking, Photo real, Post-production | No Comments

Here in the studio while the paint dries and the renders crawl towards completion, we’re always mulling over new ideas or trying out new things just for the love of it. So, in between commissioned projects over the past six months, our meticulous and brilliant Post-Production Assistant, Marija Salajeva, set herself the task of creating a virtual model of a pug as though it had been modelled in clay by hand. The intention was to create a photorealistic scenario, complete with crumbs of clay and cold coffee. As we’re so familiar with working in clay (and often so engrossed in work that drinks get ignored) there was plenty of live reference around the studio for Marija to draw from. The effect is a scene in which the ‘modeller’ has just finished their work and has left the sculpting table. Judge for yourself, but we think it’s a fascinating and brilliant study of one artistic discipline being captured with the tools of another.

 

 

Rounding Off 2016 With More RTS Nominations. Thanks To All Our Collaborators…

By | Awards, BAFTA, Broadcast, CITV, Design, Modelmaking, Nominations, RTS | No Comments

After delivering a bunch of exciting new work during 2016, we finished the year with three more award nominations. Our contribution for CITV’s ‘Share A Story’, a tale about A Shark Who Swallowed The Sea, written by Heidi Hogarth was among the nominated films in the Children’s BAFTA Short Form Category. The same film was also nominated twice in the Royal Television Society Midlands Awards, for Best Production Craft Skills and Best Fictional Television Programme. This project is our fifth project involving traditional puppetry. You can find more like this here. Huge thanks go out to all who worked with us on this project.

The Fundamentals of Animation

By | Design, Food for thought, Pilsner Urquell 'Legends', Press, Publication, stop-motion, Uncategorized | No Comments

A nice thing happened recently. The second edition of The Fundamentals of Animation was published and our ‘Legends’ film for Pilsner Urquell was covered in some great detail in the book’s ‘Design as Concept’ section, together with a feature on the studio in general. Enormous thanks to Samantha Moore and Paul Wells for allowing us to be part of this. It’s one thing to be ploughing your furrow, often in the dark (metaphorically and literally) and so focused on the aims of the storyboard, that you don’t think you’re ever breaking any ground. Being interviewed by Sam and having the Legends project broken down in such granular detail made me realise that we did actually try a few new things. We’re genuinely honoured to be featured in such a staple industry publication.

The Engineering Machine picks up multiple awards

By | Awards, Bechtel, Design, stop-motion | No Comments

Our recent film produced for Bechtel, The Engineering Machine, produced with Iceni.co picked up a Construction Media Award for Best Social Media campaign. This represents the third industry plaudit for an ambitious collaboration between us, Andi Jepson and co at Iceni and the brilliantly energetic students at Birmingham City University. EVCOM are champions of the power and value of communication, so the award feels apt especially for all those undergraduates from the Visual Communication pathway who were such a pleasure to work with.

Second RTS Win For An Epic Collaboration

By | Awards, Design, RTS, stop-motion | No Comments

Earlier in 2015 we embarked on an ambitious animation project together with the creative gang at Iceni.co and the incredible undergraduate crew on Birmingham City University’s Visual Communication (Film and Animation) course. This collaboration was recognised this month at the Royal Television Society awards in the Best Production Skills category. The ‘Rube Goldberg’ machine was designed and built at Second Home Studios then transported an re-assembled at BCU’s Parkside studio where a team animated the machine building itself in stop-motion prior to all the kinetic trigger points being filmed live.

This award is real testament to the dedication of the student crew who sweated buckets with the rest of us to help build, manhandle and artfully destroy it!

Bechtel_Montage_1_SFW_1

Here they are again:

A Second Home Studios and ICENI.co production

Produced in collaboration with Bechtel and Birmingham City University (UK)
Thanks to: Carillion // Crossrail // Edmundson Electrical // Hilti // Network Rail

Producer for Bechtel: Leanne Bell
Designed by Chris Randall

Assistant Designers: Frances Rice // David Checkley
Modelmakers: Yossel Simpson Little // Sarah Crombie // Dan Hayward
Assistant Modelmakers: Jonathan Kiefert // Kieron Reilly
Lead Animator: Ian Whittle
Motion Control: Matt Cusworth // Arron Sheekey
Motion Graphics Supervisor: Fraser Ntukula
Compositing: Gareth Langford // Gareth Flavell
Sound: Craig Barlow
Edit / Colourist: Alison Huckett

Huge thanks to students from Birmingham City University (UK) Visual Communication School

Clara Chou // Daniel Coetsee // Luke Frangeskou // Andrea Haenze // Hayley Harrison // Al Hassan // Jack Mugglestone // Nina Parker Noon // Dilek Osman // Waheeda Rahman // Jan Rospond // Sam Holyhead // Mikolaj Kacprzac // Kent Lau
Chris Mair // Borislava Marangozova // Natalie Sergeant // Adam Scotford // Jake Wesley-Worrall // Kieran Wilson
Grace Zhang

Thanks to: Steven Chamberlain // Matt Cusworth // Lee Metcalfe Chase // Arron Sheekey // Matt Tromans // Hilary Weston Jones // Kelvin Wong from the Visual Communications School

Written, Produced and Directed by Andi Jepson and Chris Randall

Production Craftsmanship Recognised at RTS Awards

By | Awards, CITV, RTS, stop-motion | No Comments

This month Second Home Studios won its first Royal Television Society Award for My Motorbike, produced for CITV’s Share A Story. This continues to be a creative highlight for all here at the studio, where the stories originate from eager young storytellers who are fans of the CITV channel. Not everyone who worked on the project was able to attend (as pictured) but thank you to all those lovely people who worked so hard on bringing this to life:

Written and read by 8 year old Alex Holt.
Directed and Produced by Waldemar Werbel and Chris Randall
Animation: Ian Whittle, Chris Randall, Waldemar Werbel
Production Assistant: Omari McCarthy
Modellers: Dominic Madden-Kennedy, Abbie Williams, Charlotte Clare, Amy Dodd, Ian Whittle, Omari Mccarthy Josh Taylor, Daniel James
Post-Production: Waldemar Werbel, Jardine Sage, Frank Mansfield, Chris Randall