In addition to playing a starring role in the elaborate main idents, the FX Tab also had to adaptable enough to serve as a feature of bumps and other furniture.
“The tab is a neat little device that the branding can exist as,” says Tilley, “without suffocating the hugely successful content the channel can show off about. We felt that keeping the branding minimal is a brave move but allows the channel to shine through.”
The idents deconstruct the FX Tab and build 3D shapes, objects and even creatures by shattering and reassembling it. For example, in Pool, a flurry of red boxes invade a swimming pool and transform it into a seething maelstrom straight out of a classic adventure movie, complete with giant octopus, whale, and a pirate ship.
This approach threw up a mix of creative and technical challenges, as Tilley notes that people’s expectations of the quality of visual effects combined with film are very high.
“They need to believe what they see,” he says. To achieve the best possible effects, Artillery used a high-end production and post pipeline, shooting all of the live action on Red One cameras, either at 4K (4,096x2,048 pixels) at 25fps or 2K (2,048x1,152) at up to 100fps and tracking them using a combination of Boujou and PFTrack.
For Pool, the team found that they had to track a swimming pool full of water so that an empty CG pool could be composited in in its place, with a sea of FX Tabs added on top of these – with seamless results.
The team modelled and animated the CG elements in Softimage, before creating the composites, grades and edits in After Effects and Final Cut Pro. One application that was essential to Artillery’s workflow was Flash, which, although it’s more commonly used for web animation, proved to be an invaluable pre-viz tool between the first edits and the 3D modelling and animation process.
To create an animatic using Flash, the team drew over the edited footage, using 2D animation to explore the possibilities and timings for the Tab creature.
Storyboard and animatics artist Garth Jones says, “Using this process we were able to make changes to improve the narrative before committing to CG, which takes longer to block out.”