CICLOPE Title Sequence

 

Our New York team was given a free reign to design the main title sequence and awards graphics for this year’s Ciclope Festival. We decided to do something a bit different: traditional animation.

“We were given the freedom to come up with a story, and tell it in any way that we pleased” says Zach, one of the designers (who also illustrated The Creature Department). “We opted to make a piece that was traditionally animated – an art form that our team is very enthusiastic about.”

“We began with a very detailed boardamatic, which proved to be a wonderful tool. Referencing these storyboards, we began with animating our characters in Flash and TV Paint. The rough texture was brushed on separately in Photoshop. We knew that we wanted to composite the project in Nuke, so we exported our animated characters as isolated elements. This gave our compositor the freedom to grade elements independently, and add shadows and highlights as he saw fit.”

An extremely tight schedule meant the team put in lots of work in their spare time. “One of the biggest challenges was finding time to do laundry! Our smelly clothes were a uniform of sorts, one that I took pride in” says Zack. “There is something special about working on an open project, on our own time, among very close friends. The project becomes personal, and you lose a piece of your mind. You feel comfortable enough to start getting silly, and to try anything. You feel liberated to make mistakes, and that is when you finally start to feel like an artist.”

“All of the backgrounds were hand drawn, and then projected onto 3D geometry. All of our skies and clouds were projected onto a sphere to give us depth and subtle parallax. This union of hand drawn assets and robust compositing software is becoming more and more common, perhaps one of the first of its kind for Framestore.”

BEATS BY DRE The Pills take over the VMAs

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What a night the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards were! Like with the Super Bowl in 2012 we were tasked with setting up a system that could create instant content in reaction to live events for a massive brand – this time Beats by Dre.

We all knew that a ‘Miley Cyrus moment’ would happen and we needed to create a series of systems that would allow Beats to get maximum exposure on the night.

We designed the original Beats Pill character for a advert earlier this year, and our team in LA developed a series of spots to be used as teasers in the run up to the VMAs, introducing the new characters. Read more about that over here.

We were asked to create a real-time puppeteering system that would allow full live control of the Pill characters and to help with all aspects of social media dissemination. These instant clips and videos were voiced by comedians (Neal Brennan, Corey Holcomb and Tichina Arnold, all writing and riffing material on the spot in our NY office!) and pumped out over Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and Vine.

Check out this Storify of all the content we created on the night

How we did it

We used the Unity game engine to create the puppet system. This allowed us, with use of Xbox controllers and microphones, to control all aspects of the character’s movement, as well as making them speak in real-time. We created each character’s animation tree in Maya in advance and there were actually over 600 variants per character, which meant a significant level of new pipeline creation to allow us to animate in Maya and export to Unity using the same rig.

For the actual night of the VMAs we were crammed into an office with the Beats social media team, the comedians, our puppetting machine and a Blackmagic capture set-up we produced all the content you cam see above. The comedians would write and record the live voice-over, and Framestore would puppet the characters for them via the Xbox controllers, then instantly upload it.

The last piece of this epic jigsaw, were the paparazzi. We’ve hired a few different types of freelancer for projects in my time, but this might be the weirdest yet! “They were on the red carpet at the actual awards show in Brooklyn, in an official capacity, so that we could get fairly instant images of celebs arriving. We were getting the images to Framestore within 10 seconds, allowing us to do stuff like this.

The other key part of the team on the night were our After Effects and Photoshop wizards. These guys had some serious pressure to turn around the captured content, in the correct format, and then upload directly to all the Beats accounts.

McLAREN Tooned 50

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After the success of last year’s series we’re working with McLaren again on another run of Tooned, this time for the F1 brand’s 50th anniversary.

We wrote the scripts, designed the characters, directed and animated the series, which is being shown on Sky Sports before each Grand Prix, as well as working as one long episode.

We also sourced the vocal talent, which includes Alexander Armstrong, the one and only Brian Cox (well, except this Brian Cox, not that one) and a host of F1 royalty, past and present.

Here’s what we’ve seen so far, plus the making of. Plenty more info over on the Framestore website too, and there’s a Storify of us taking the mascots to Goodwood here.

Making of

The Art of Tooned

SAMSUNG Touch Installations

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To coincide with the Galaxy S4 launch in May our Labs team worked created a gigantic interactive installation that lets users explore Samsung’s  range. There are 65” and 46” versions in hundreds of phone shops around the UK, so go and check one out first hand if you can. Otherwise check out our making of below.

WE STEAL SECRETS: The Story of WikiLeaks

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We worked with Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney on his latest documentary, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, which follows the controversial whistleblowing site and its even more controversial leader, Julian Assange.

Our New York design team created over 35 minutes of rendered effects for the film, including it’s title sequence and visual representations of the exfiltration of top-secret data. There’s a full explanation over on Framestore.com. Plus some interviews here and here.