Film4, a TV channel in the UK as well as a production company, decided to go through a rebranding campaign recently and came up with some spectacular results. Normally the process of shooting these station IDs wouldn't be that interesting, but the concept is fascinating, and the results combine a lot of actual elements with a little bit of VFX. Here is a great BTS showing what was done on set:
We wanted to create cinematic idents that supported the films on the channel, that was something we strived for from the get go. It was a pressure we put on ourselves. At the very beginning we had a huge number of potential scenarios. We narrowed it down to five that best represented an even cross-section of the film world, but, of course, there are a handful of those other scenarios we’d still love to make. The scenes had to be flexible enough to contain multiple play-out scenarios but ambiguous enough not to fall solely into genres. We carefully crafted a range of scenes to elicit a variety of different moods: the Gas Station and the Woods scenarios were shot in California on location, the Corridor and Motel idents were shot on specially-built sets shot in London, and the Stairwell was shot in a beautiful Victorian seaside hotel in Brighton.
Each ident begins ambiguously before seamlessly branching off into one of three possible endings, making minimal adjustments to shift the mood dramatically. Each scene is constructed of a vast array of film references; from the iconic to the obscure. We took every opportunity we could find to pepper the indents with references. We didn’t set out to pick specific films or filmmakers to reference – it needed to be a broad range. The challenge was instead to find references that felt natural in the scene.
Here are the other alternate idents that they shot:
And more on how they pulled it off:
Stop motion was used in the animation of the logos and was driven by the technique itself. In each frame of the filmstrip technique the logo is actually sitting still in the space and it’s not until you see the frames moving past the screen in quick succession that it appears to be animated.
The technique involves a camera moving down through the ceiling plane and then through the floor plane. We shot this part and then stitched together a sequence of these to create the technique. Due to the camera having to pass through the ceiling and floor planes of the shots we couldn’t shoot in existing locations like a motel or hotel corridor. We had to build sets that were raised up off the ground, dig huge holes in car parks and forests & at times create our own canopies/ceiling planes.
On blending live-action footage and visual effects…
The amount of VFX varies from ident to ident, but we would say it has come out well balanced; an even blend of film craft. We tried to keep as much as we could in-camera, practically augmenting locations with things like additional trees, manually puppeting elements such as ceiling lights and a rolling tyre (the art department scored a perfect 10 with that skilled manoeuvre), as well as using practical effects like pyrotechnics (it’s a strange feeling burning something down that you’ve painstakingly created). Then in post-production we pulled the filmstrip technique together, built the logos, and created a staggering array of additional effects and elements ranging from the very subtle (a single light short circuiting) to the very prominent (smoke and fire simulation on the rolling tyre and a grand piano tumbling towards camera).
Read more about the making of these idents over on the Film4 blog.
Can you guess which movies inspired these scenes?