Compost – The People’s Story VFX

October 24, 2014
by Tim Rabjohns

    [vimeo w=573&h=322]
    Whilst the TV industry waits, with baited breath, for the PROMAX 2014 winners to be announced, I thought I would write about a fascinating project that was sent in by Compost.  It can’t have escaped your notice that it was the centenary of the start of the First World War this year (although I’m never quite sure what there is to celebrate about this)…and there have been a whole lot of programs about it.

    The People’s Story, is a great excuse to celebrate the tireless work done by companies like Compost in providing high end visual effects and 3D motion graphics on all sorts of  documentaries and dramas that come out of the UK.

    I had a chat with Colin Thornton who, with Neil Wilson and Steve Flynn, own and run Compost. “ever since we worked on Bloody Omaha we seem to attract military-themed work, which suits us fine as visually they are very interesting and we have built up lots of assets

    For “The People’s Story” we created VFX and titles which meant we had to bring ‘No-mans Land’, Zeppelins and war-time London to life.  One of the more interesting aspects of this job was that Paul Copeland (our client) wanted to show a mostly unseen view of WW1 – from the air.  This helps to emphasise the scale of the trenches and the changing mood of London’s bustling streets.

    Another part of the brief was that we should evoke the mood of people gathering at the start of the war – specifically those eerie shots of people gathering around the Houses Of Parliament when war broke out

    As you can see from the making of film above, one of the challenges of creating aerial shots of WW1 era London is that there is very little existing footage.  Our client was understandably keen for the shots to be accurate to the period.  To achieve this and stay on budget we decided to camera project from an archive still onto a rebuilt model of the area. Making a 3D model was definitely the right choice for this type of job – after all we only had to generate aerial movement for the exact duration of the shots that we needed.

    We then brought the shot to life by adding hundreds of other elements including people, lights smoke and period cars and buses.

    We also created aerials of No Man’s land where we 3D tracked thousands of elements onto the scene to emphasize the scale of the Front lines.”

    After talking to Colin it brought home to me how detailed these short scenes are – making the whole thing a lot more cinematic.  It also made me think how we take all these VFX for granted nowadays – which we shouldn’t as the budgets for historical documentaries are no where near their cinematic counterparts.

    Credits: Compost – VFX and 3D modelling,Produced for ITV by Paul Copeland.

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