For just over a year EE was the only provider of 4G in the UK. As the other networks finally released their 4G services we needed to show how EE’s 4G was faster and bigger than all the others.

 
This was my last project while working at Poke, while Framestore handled the production and effects, which made my job transition from one company to the other eerily smooth.

 


 

The American Union Bank. The online experience that set-up Secret Cinema’s presentation of Miller’s Crossing. Audience members where given unique identities as business owners in the fictional town of Beaumont City. Not all was at it seemed at the bank, and some suspicious (some might say corrupt) cash flows seemed to appear in your account. You could also vote on the upcoming elections in the city… the results of which may or may not have been completely fixed.

 

This led to a real bank at the show, where Beaumont City residents can withdrawn their cash that can be very useful on the streets of Beaumont.

 

The site was designed by us, and developed by the splendid Mr James Tiplady.

 

The show itself was in Hornsey Town Hall, an amazing old Art Deco building near Crouch End.

 

 
When Secret Cinema recreated Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budepest Hotel inside a disused warehouse, we took care of the outside. Working with projection designer Nina Dunn, we re-created the hotel frontage from the film and projected it over the warehouse.

 
To bring it to life we added live action of characters in the windows, a snow storm, ZZ banners blowing in the wind and lights turning on and off in various rooms.

 
This frontage served as an introduction to the amazing rich world Secret Cinema had created inside the building.

 

 

To help create the world of Who Framed Roger Rabbit with Future Cinema a lot of of fun and quite tricky effects were needed. The plan was to transform East London’s Troxy theatre into the film’s Ink and Paint club, complete with toon staff, toon hunting weasels and a whole night of overly animated cabaret acts before Jessica Rabbit’s big number.

 

We created a completely puppet-able Bongo the Gorilla animation (developed by Jamie Ingram) that was controlled by an actor hidden from view that welcomed people to the club. The actor interacted with the crowd via a hidden camera, a microphone controlling Bongo’s mouth and keyboard controls to gave him 3 different emotions.

  

Once inside the venue we helped create 2 key animations that interacted with performances on a huge invisible mesh projection screen stretched across the stage; a toon piano that squashed poor old Teddy Valiant in a massive explosion and a 40ft tall silhouette of Jessica Rabbis’s dramatic entrance onto the stage. For Jessica we worked with Framestore and video projection designer Nina Dunn to create the animation, and then Future Cinema’s production team synced up the invisible mesh screen to disappear for the live actress to take over the performance.

 
Bustin’ makes everyone feel good it seems, as the crowd at Future Cinema’s Ghostbusters where one of the most excited yet.
 
Our role this time was everything digital. This began with websites for the New York Evening Post, The Columbia University Institute of Paranormal Activity, The Ghostbusters’ own website (designed and built by Doctor Spengler of course) and a high fashion magazine promoting this year’s (1984) New York Fashion Week being hosted in the prestigious (and newly renovated since it’s alleged ghost infestation) Sedgewich Hotel.
 
mag
 
Once people got the show, during the fashion gala Walter ‘Dickless’ Peck shuts down the power grid to the nearby Ghostbusters containment unit and many spooky things start going bump during the night.
 
As the film started to roll, scenes leapt off of the screen and into the building, more so than Future Cinema has ever attempted before. We helped concept some of these performances and created 5 projection mapped animated sequences that interacted with performers. Our major effect was the proton streams coming from the performers’ blasters to catch smiler. Our first crude test was conducted in our garage, nobody died, except Slimer, who technically was already dead:
 

 
To do this we recreated the plasma stream effect in After Effects and created a completely animated Slimer model in Cinema 4D. For the other effects (seen the video at the top of this post) we created a series of ghostly attritions, a full lighting storm, realistic dripping slime and a hotdog (with mustard and ketchup).
 
For the night we got to go along and experience the show with some mates we decided to we’d never get a better excuse to make some Ghostbuster costumes. So we did – and this is our journey home:
 





 

 
We upped our game a bit for this year’s Halloween Trick-or-Treaters. We put a canopy over the whole front garden which allowed us to create a spookier atmosphere with some new lighting and projection effects, added a load of new props and Dad parked the car on a Zombie.
 
People seemed to be really getting into it this year with packs of kids roaming the streets all in great costumes and lots of other houses in the neighbourhood putting on little haunts and effects. It actually felt like that scene from E.T. that I always wanted Halloween to feel like.
 
By counting the sweets mum gave out, we must have seen 340 kids, and at least 3 of them left in tears… our work here is done.

hvp_header
 

A few years ago, me and 2 other dudes (Martin Rose and Tom Hartshorn) had an idea that went a bit like this: “Hey, let’s run Back to the Future live on Twitter”.

 
It’s 2 years later and we’ve done it – www.theHillValleyProject.com.

 
We registered 50 separate twitter accounts for all the characters (and some of the objects) in the film, and starting on October 25th at 7.45am (the exact time and date the film starts), they all started telling the story of the film in real time. It takes 6 days for the whole story to play out.

 
Here’s a few choice tweets:

 

 
We took it all a bit further with things like setting up foursquare locations and having characters check in…

 
…and giving Lorraine an obsession with instagram selfies and hashtags:

 

#love #calvin #kiss #brother #vodka #selfie #parking #18 #enchantmentunderthesea #parked #nervous #square”

 
We even gave Biff a match.com account:

 
One of the many reason we did this (most of them were around the theme of Back to the Future being awesome) was to raise awareness and encourage donations to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. They’re trying to speed up the time it takes to get newly developed drugs to market by concentrating on one specific part of the process and helping to provide support and access to research when and where it’s needed.

 
So, how did we do it? Well, Tom had already done a very similar project a few years back running Home Alone on twitter over Christmas, so we had a rough idea, but working out the times all for the tweets was a massive task. There’s lots of times in the story you just have to hit, like the time the car first time travels, or the lighting strike on the clock tower, so we had those as starting points. The rest we worked out by events like the school day starting, or looking at the position of the sun and working that out for California at that time of year.

 
We then had to re-write the entire film in tweets, adding in any screen shots that looked like they could be Twitpics, links to YouTube videos for the soundtrack and just making the tweets sound like tweets with the odd #LOL, ;-), and the occasional #FML. We ended up with 1211 tweets, all hand written and all cross references each other with @replies.

 
We gave each account it’s own biography, background image, profile image and cover image.

 
profiles

 
We then entered the whole lot into a social media management system that was logged in to all the accounts and set each tweet to send at the desired time.

 
The system only went wrong once when I noticed we’d entered in all the dates a day out of sync when Marty wakes up on the first day before he goes to meet doc in the car park in 1985. I fixed this by using a technique of utter blind panic, and switching to manually tweeting all accounts for a couple of hours in the early hours of Saturday morning – I managed to get far enough ahead in the end to re-arrange and re-import the rest of the tweets. I felt a bit like this moment:

 

 
It all went down very well with Gizmodo calling us Brilliant Wackos.

 
giz

 
Questlove Jenkins become a bit of a super fan tweeting about the project and then re-tweeting some of the characters:

 

 
OK Go liked it as well, which was nice:

 

 
And I was interviewed on *THE* Back to the Future Pod-cast, the Flux Capaci-Cast.

 
Even though it’s all played out now, you can still witness it in all it’s glory here: www.theHillValleyProject.com

 
We made a video with a proper film star and a bloke off the telly! This project was for a partnership with EE and Google. EE wanted to promote watching video on 4G while Google wanted to promote watching longer videos on YouTube – so we decided to make a genuine piece of YouTube video content that illustrates this rather than your usual advert.
 
(See it here if you’re outside the UK)
 

 
I wrote and Creative-Directed it, with some writing help from Mark Bushnell who came up with the “no this is a bacon sandwich” line, much loved by the YouTube comments. We worked closely with Jamie’s team to design the 2 sandwiches, and make sure the content we were creating felt like a genuine Jamie Oliver Food Tube episode – the video only exists on Jamie’s channel after all, not EE’s.
 
It was a pretty hectic half day shoot, but Kevin is of course an absolute pro, and Jamie did a great job getting Kevin and crew excited. It’s hard to believe but the chainsaw was actually Jamie’s idea, not mine.
 

 
For the close-ups, we worked with a great chef who’s hands and arms (after some shaving and hair dying) matched Kevin’s perfectly, we even got a double for Kevin’s wedding ring for him. My proudest moment was stepping in as the stunt man (or the only person stupid enough) to hold the loaf while it was being chainsawed in half.
 

 
The video reached 2.5 million views within 2 weeks, and is Jamie’s most watched YouTube video by quite a margin. I know we’re not supposed to read the YouTube comments but it’s great to see so many like “First ad on YouTube I haven’t actually skipped”.

 
For Future Cinema’s production of Saturday Night Fever, we created the website for the 2001 Odyssey club, the hippest disco joint in town. Working with Stephen Emslie and James Tiplady (a really jolly good new member of the team), we designed a system that allowed people to book their entrance time to the venue, as well as set them up with a character to play as for the night.
 
Each character was a member of one of 5 New York gangs from the ’70s, and they were given a briefing on how to behave for their gang as well as how to dress. They were also given a unique New York ID card to print out and bring with them which got them into the club and helped them meet up with fellow gang members.

 
We got a Pizza oven! …and this time-lapse film of us building the stand for it is made using a little dolly unit I built for our GoPro. We’ve always wanted to have a simple small unit to plonk on a table during breakfast and slowly trundle forward, but such a device simple doesn’t seem to exist. So making one seems to be the only option.
 
Here’s a few prototypes:
 

 
First I tried building a little winch with a super geared down motor, and a trolley for the GoPro made of Lego. It worked, but it was cumbersome, and tricky to set-up.
 
Then I put the winch on the trolley and used it to power the wheels. Much better, but it was too fast and a bit noisy.
 
For the final design (although I’m sure I’ll tweak it again), I rebuilt the motor and gears using an old Lego motor and all the cogs I could find in our Lego box that’s sat in the cupboard since we were kids. Now it’s super slow, and the Lego motor runs almost silent. Oh Lego, is there nothing you can’t do?
 
I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking “But what does it look like if you strap an infrared filter to the GoPro and set it off on it’s jolly way down the garden path?”. Well it looks a bit like this:
 

 
Here’s the brave little soldier in action: