Thursday, 19 January 2012

Channel 5's Celebrity Big Brother 2012

I was recently approached by Channel 5 to create their biggest trailer of the year for their Celebrity Big Brother 60second promo.The brief was that the HD promo had to be ‘Epic’ and have a very strong cinematic look and feel to it…with lots of visual effects and high production values.

I was on set as the technical director for the 3 day shoot and all through the post-production phase. I quickly put together a plan that would allow us to shoot all the shots in one small green screen studio. After measuring and positioning the tracking markers we were ready to start filming.

We shot everything on Imageynation’s new RED Epic at a huge 5k resolution which would give us the highest possible quality through the post-production process. It was important that we had this high resolution (and REDLog information) so that we could achieve perfect keying on the green screen footage and carry this high level of information right through the compositing stages into the  final grade (which was handled by Prime Focus).

Once we had all our footage from the live action shoot with Brian Dowling, Amy Childs, Kerry Catona and Jedward, we created low res proxies for the client to create an offline edit.
In the meantime my production company (Imageynation) started on the truly mammoth task of post-production. Firstly we recreated a complete 3D environment of the live action set.

Then we started to build the mountain top and opening scene which was completely 3D with CGI lightening effects.

At the same time while we were creating this opening scene, we also started to create the CGI for the green screen replacement. I took photo reference of the on-set props so that we could perfectly match and texture them in 3D.

Then we created CGI rocks to fit in the background of each shot and as we had already built a complete virtual replica of the set, we knew exactly which shot had which rocks in the background. We started by blocking out the scene with low-res poly models and then refined them later with high-res textures including dusting them with a sand material to really make them blend into the foreground props. Once we perfectly keyed out the green screen and corrected all the spill suppression, we could add the replacement CG background.


This was a fairly straightforward compositing process if the shot was locked-off, but if the camera moved at all then we needed to use the tracking markers to ‘match-move’ our 3D environment to marry flawlessly with the live action plate. This is a lot more complicated as the human eye can very easily spot any errors with depth perception and parallax.

Once we had all our rocks set in place, we added animated CG clouds with ‘God rays’ from over head which were also animated to give slightly organic movement to each shot.

As our compositors were creating the final touches to each shot and adding final details, we had also made a start on the monolith scenes. Channel 5 provided us with library footage for all the backgrounds of the monolith scenes. So we needed to create 3D models and add them to the backgrounds.
With some of the shots we needed to create tracking data from the footage so we could add the monolith stones and make them move as if they belonged in the footage. We then developed the particle FX as the monoliths crashed to the ground. We even did some sky replacements and painted out an entire field of cows (no cows were harmed in this process!).


Further effects were added to a few additional shots - distortion maps for when Brain’s staff hits the floor and when he waves his hand.

Finally we also added a few post-production anamorphic lens flares and the lighting for when ‘God’ speaks to Brian. With this effect, we added lens dirt to trigger when the lighting was active, this helped to sell the idea that the camera had actually captured this footage.

Once we had created all our shot sequences, we outputted all our files as REDgamma to give the grade artist maximum control over the files. We also outputted complicated multi-channel mattes so that the artist could grade certain parts of each image independently.

Channel 5 have been delighted with the work and considereing we only had 3.5 weeks to create everything before it was on air, I think the final look to the film portrays a lot of hard work that needed to be executed correctly first time.

I am exremely proud of this work and it was a dream project to work on and exercise a lot of creative ideas. The whole process was a joy and it is credit to Channel 5 for developing such an interesting script and also for not being afraid to go all out on such a big project in such a short space of available production time – they are a truly great client and a great team of people and I can’t wait for the next big production to work on with them.

You can view the full 60 second promo by visiting the Imageynation website. Link here