Monday, 23 May 2011

Telling the Story

When I took part in Autodesk's Superuser Tour of Southeast Asia and Australia in 2009 the other speakers on the tour were Chris Ruffo, Senior Design Visualisation Industry Manager Media & Entertainment (now there's a catchy job title!) and Nicolas Aithadi, Visual Effects Supervisor at Moving Picture Company (MPC) in Soho. Their presentations had quite an affect on me.

Chris was presenting his view of the future, suggesting that the days of gaining an edge with an impressive image were numbered (as discussed in my previous blog) and that the direction industry leaders were taking was to create short movies to tell the story. Chris was careful to distinguish between a standard fly-through, as so many of us have created in the past, and a carefully directed piece produced by cutting a series sequences edited together.

Nic's presentation was perhaps somewhat more dramatic and 'sexy'. MPC are responsible for many well known Hollywood effects including sequences from James Bond, GI Joe, The Watchmen, and Harry Potter. Indeed as we spent much of our time together on planes during the tour I had the chance to see some of the pre-vis work for the "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" which Nic was working on at the time. Much of Nic's presentation focussed on how they like to blow things up (because it's cool!) but the meat of it explained how individual sequences are built up - from the moment of pitching for the work to the final cut. I was struck not only by the number of people involved and the complexity of the process but also by the parallels with the design process in architecture - the main difference seeming to be the scale of budget, resource, and number of different focussed specialisms involved. However, what interested me most was the opportunity between events to learn more about the tips and tricks of Hollywood production, including the basics of how to direct cuts between scenes smoothly.

On returning to the UK I felt keen to apply some of Nic and Chris's ideas and workflows into some of my own work. My first attempt combined sequences of a Revit model for a proposal for a leisure centre on the coast in North East England with footage of swimmers, canoeists, and someone sliding down a water flue taken from YouTube in order to try to capture some of the fun element of the building proposed. The opening sequence included some dramatic footage of the north sea at night with the building slowly appearing in the background through rolling fog. Due to potential copyright issues I don't feel able to post this one in full but a still from the opening shot is shown at the bottom of my first blog, "The Beginning..". Below is a more recent link to a video I put together (while working at Dyer) about 18 months ago to "tell the story" for a proposed mixed use library, college, and university building in southeast England. The building design and video was produced using Revit, 3ds Max, Photoshop, After Effects, and Premier.

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