I’m sure to all you dedicated blog followers it’ll seem like I’ve disappeared, vanished into the ether never to be seen or reblogged again. It’s okay, it’s just taken me this long to clamber out of my mountain of scanned typography and get out of the flat to somewhere with internet access.
I’ve been working on my BBC Title Sequence project for the past week or so. It’s a time consuming process, but the look’s so good I’m tempted to see if a site like the splendid AEtuts would be interested in letting me write a tutorial for it. What do you think – want to know how to make this video?
For a while I considered doing it all digitally, and I did a few tests on this, but particularly with the sketch transitions you can’t replicate it with anywhere near the same lush detail as real sketches and scans provide. It reminds me of last year, working with a real TV to get the effect off its screen – there’s just no replicating it. It’s another tip I owe to Jonny Harris of Playdead whilst he was lecturing at Abertay.
So to summarise what’s the concept? What’s the show? Why does it look this way? Well, firstly it’s a debate and current affairs show for a new generation – Newsnight for the BBC Three generation. Ultimately everybody wants their opinion heard, and they want it to matter. That’s democracy, and even those who vote would ideally like to make a difference. Your opinions are your values, and they define you. They define the way you act, and your sense of right and wrong and when opinions clash debate is born. So how to visually convey this?
Well, I felt debate and opinions were all communication based. News is communication too, mass communication of current events and views on those events. The written word is proving the most relevant form of communication of all, thanks to Twitter, Facebook and sometimes even blogs. Lord knows the sad people who read those need a little communication. Ahem.
But this lead me down a typographic route in terms of how to execute the title sequence. I looked at shows on news more regularly watched by my target audience and most of it was comedy, draped in visually imagery of newspapers and tabloid headlines. But the way we get our news has long since evolved beyond the newspaper, and I wanted to reflect this. Small hints to social media are found within each shot of the title sequence, and each typographic layout reflects the personality of the opinion it depicts.
So how to go about executing this? Well, first I drew up a storyboard, then designed 7 different typographic layouts. It was more than I needed, but it helps to have backups, after all. I then went to shoot the footage of people, quite simply, giving the opinions on screen. I may have made a film, but I didn’t direct the actors. I was a technical director, and my co-director handled the other elements of direction like acting, motivation, etc. I won’t go into that too much though. So once I’d shot all of the footage (over 30 minutes in the end) how did the below transformation happen?
Well, the green was keyed out, and tracking markers removed (I didn’t use them in the end). I then took my type layouts and traced them several times, scanning intermittently to get the jerky sketchy effect I wanted. I then took these into Photoshop to exaggerate the contrast and make the blacks nice and strong, then I pulled them into Illustrator, to Live Trace them, align them and seperate them into individual layers. It was time consuming, but worth it. I then imported this right to AfterEffects, turning off and on each layer’s opacity to animate the text onto screen.
I then composited it onto the footage, applied colour correction and a nice flare effect to add colour. I cut the whole piece, all along to the wonderfully produced Supervillain Theme by Hip-Hop pioneers Madvillain. The whole thing came together really nicely. Almost all of the footage didn’t make it into the piece, and two fully animated typography pieces didn’t make the final piece, but that’s life. Better to have too much than not enough. The whole piece comes in at a lean 28 seconds. 3 seconds longer than requested, but I’m sure they won’t mind.
I should give especially big thanks to all of my friends who gave their time to help me with the project – Joel Hewett, Jenny Guz, Daniel Hewett, Daniel ‘Bob’ Taylor and Jenn Samson. We had a great time filming, and I’ve got to say, I was blown away by the green screen facility. It produced some fantastic lighting for the video in the end, and really gave it a crisp feel in the end.
I’ll be able to upload it publicly by the end of the week, I hope. I’ll also be able to show off my D&AD entry soon, so watch this space. Good things will happen here. Wish me luck for presenting to the BBC representative tomorrow. Cannae wait!