Classic Sunday Times photos burst into animated life

Coffee&TV and director Simon George have applied some CG magic to some of the world's most famous still photos.

The studio and director collaborated to deliver one of a series of films for the Times & Sunday Times online project – the Unquiet Film Series, which celebrates the paper's rich seam of photojournalism.

The film embraces several significant and poetic moments captured and published by The Sunday Times Magazine throughout the decades. Using a technique developed by creative director Simon Clarke and lead artist Graham Stott, each shot was given full 3D geometry to add movement and a new level of reality.

The nature of the images decided the overall approach to each shot with complex geometry generated in Maxon Cinema 4D and Softimage. This was animated and composited using After Effects and Fusion.

"By analysing the photographs, we were able to calculate dimensions and generate highly accurate and detailed environments and models to match the images." said Stott. "The original camera lens information was extrapolated and a virtual camera placed in scene to project the image back onto the 3D set."

Once the camera moves were in place, missing parts of the image, initially hidden behind the foreground objects, were generated. Very subtle animation was then added, bringing the shots to life and immersing the viewer in the moment the photograph was taken. Steve Waugh added a design element to the transitions and titles, then offered an overall creative treatment and embellishment of each individual image.

"Challenges varied immensely from shot to shot" explained Stott. "Either by needing complicated geometry builds, such as the heart transplant shot, or by involving incredibly detailed foreground removal such as the honey hunter photograph. The most challenging shot was the London Olympics preparation shot, which not only required a huge amount of plate preparation, but also very detailed geometry for the tree and the stadium with the many hundreds of volunteers creating the vital parallax."

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn't affect our editorial independence. Learn more.

Read Next...