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 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.

 

Since before we started working with Secret Cinema, we’d always come out of one of their shows after a great night and say “when are they going to man up and do Brazil?”. They manned up.

 

 

We were involved very early on this one (as usual collaborating with mega developer Stephen Emslie), we helped concept and create the pre-narative experience audience members take part in during the month leading up to the show. How they interacted with the system directly influenced their final show experience.

 

The moment any audience member bought a ticket, they became employees of G.O.O.D., a fictional company that mimics the bureaucratic and brutal themes of the film (remember we can’t blow the cover of what the film actually is yet). Employees are given access to the company intranet after filling a deliberately lengthy appraisal form. Here they can keep abreast of all company developments, as well as access a G.O.O.D. subsidiary division called D.R.E.A.M.S, a research company that all employees have to record their dreams with.

 

appraisal

 

intranet-home

 

dreams

 

Employees are also tasked to form connections with their colleagues by collecting Social Identification Numbers from each other using the commenting system to increase their rank in the company.

 

connection

 

A few days before the show, each employee is informed they have been transferred to a new department and given instructions of the proper dress code required for their new role.

 

tranfer

 

On the night of the show, employees are instructed to report to G.O.O.D. HQ, a 13 story office block in Croydon (where some of Brazil was shot), and G.O.O.D. is revealed as the Government Office Of Data, a play on the Ministry of Information from the film. Depending on your transfer, there were 27 possible starting points to your journey through the show, each with a different story and experience.

 


 

We created 60 consoles for the Department of Records, which all employees logged into using their password gained from the intranet. They can then browse all manner of files, videos and games. Each rank of employee is given a different mission to carry out within the 13 story building.

 



 

The system referenced the shared office spaces in the film by splitting the screen in two. Pairs of employees shared each console, waiting for their side of the screen to burst back into life.

 

Of course, just as in the film, you can hack the system to watch a selection of classic films or TV shows, as well as access high level integration reports (as long as Mr. Kurtzman doesn’t catch you).

 

 

Hidden away on the top floor was a secret console where employees could ‘delete’ themselves, freeing them from the system. If they tried to log into the intranet after the show they would just see a rolling video of clouds… there was also a secret method to ‘undelete’ yourself, as you can never truly escape the clutches of G.O.O.D.

 


sky

 

All of this was just part of an amazing show from Secret Cinema that spanned the entire 13 floors and basement, with countless adventures to be sought out or stumbled upon throughout the night, culminating in a stunning theatrical finale in the central core of the building.

 

 

More photos over on our Flickr here.