As is always the case, we decided to up our game a bit for the Trick or Treaters this Halloween. So we built a proper haunted house walk through maze in the front garden. I doubt any of the kids got the story of a journey through an old haunted mansion, out through the graveyard, a brief encounter with the ghostly family that haunt the place, and then into the secret hidden dungeon out the back (watch out for the mad monk!), but they seemed to enjoy in anyway. Except for the kids that either ran away or burst into tears – the sign of a job well done right?.

 
Halloween seems to have become a bit of a thing in our town of Collier Row, with families driving from all over to wander the streets in costumes looking for the many houses that make a real effort, and even build small haunts like ours. We had over 400 kids come through our doors alone.

 
Now… what to do next year?

 

 
A few more photos here.

Friends of ours, Immersive Cult (an immersive/experiential/theatrical company), asked us to help come up with some concepts for a Voodoo themed event in a very exclusive London venue for Halloween. We had free reign to change every room in the venue, so we drew up a master concept that transformed the swanky club into a mix of a decaying New Orleans Voodoo underground, with a bit of a hot and steamy backstreet Blues bar.

 

The night had a cast of characters roaming the floor, which were part of an unfolding story. As the night drew on, Marie Laveau (The Voodoo Queen) summoned the Voodoo priest Baron Samedi from his grave. He slowly possessed the night dwellers, and led them all into a voodoo dance frenzy.

 

We laid all of this out into a presentation along with sketches and mood boards, and then (due to other commitments) left it in Immersive Cult’s hands to bring to life. What we experienced when we finally arrived on Halloween was amazing. They utterly surpassed any expectations. The set was spot on. The performers were eerily authentic. The story was effortlessly weaved into the night… and on top of that, everyone seemed to have a blast.

 

voodoo-23-voodoo-15-voodoo-12-voodoo-14-voodoo-2-voodoo-11-Voodoovoodoo-18-voodoo-13-voodoo-3-voodoo-8-

 

Immersive Cult is led by two brilliant dudes we met on a few Secret Cinema projects – Francesco Pastori and Garrett Moore. These guys know their stuff, please throw all of your immersive project briefs in their general direction, you won’t be disappointed.

 

voodoo-4-voodoo-10-

 
Our first project at Framestore – A virtual reality experience with Dynamo and the new Fiat 500X.

 
Above is a short teaser of what you see inside the experience, to see the real thing you’ll need to see it in an Oculus Rift at one of the many car shows or dealerships it’s being demonstrated in across 19 regions of Europe. Or just download the Google Cardboard version here.

 
The full Oculus Rift experience includes maybe the world’s first illusion in VR, as well as 4D seat rumbling effects. I can’t tell you what the actual trick is, that would spoil it the magic, but we worked with Dynamo to make sure he was happy with the trick we designed.

 
B4fMdseIQAAs8ng

 
Dynamo was shot as live action, but everything else is computer generated imagery, including a completely photo real car. Creating the CG for this was a monstrous task. To work in VR, we had to make 2 videos (one for each eye), each at extremely high resolution (4K) and running at 60fps. To render this we used Framestore’s render farm at full capacity, each frame of footage taking 90% of the processing power as Gravity did. Rending it on a single computer would take 184 years.

 
fiat_web1fiat_web3
fiat_web5

 
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