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Passion’s Real-Time Tech for Black Mirror

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Supplies puppeteering technology for series two of Charlie Brooker’s satire

Passion’s Real-Time Tech for Black Mirror

 

The award winning series Black Mirror written by Charlie Brooker returned to Channel 4 this February with 3 brand new films.  Passion Pictures has developed a CG puppeteered bear which features in The Waldo Moment which will be broadcast at 10pm on Monday 25th February.
 
The Waldo Moment features Waldo, a blue bear from a children’s educational TV show, teaching them all about the world.  In reality, however, Waldo is an anarchic animated character on a satirical late-night topical comedy show who, once he has lured someone into the studio, unleashes a series of humorous innuendo, sarcasm and childish vitriol.  Behind the scenes, Waldo is voiced and controlled by failed comedian Jamie Salter (Daniel Rigby).  When the channel decide they would like to give Waldo his own pilot, the production company come up with the idea of Waldo standing against one of his victims, Conservative Liam Monroe (Tobias Menzies), who has been parachuted in to win a safe Tory seat in an up-coming by-election.
 
 
Animation Producer Russell McLean says, “Over the last year at Passion Pictures we’ve been developing a system of real time CG rendering and devising a way of controlling what are essentially digital puppets.  When we were approached with The Waldo Moment script, it required Waldo to interact live with actor Daniel Rigby as well a number of additional cast members.  As Waldo was on screen for a third of the script we concluded this would be too time consuming and expensive to do using traditional CG animation, as well as being very restrictive for the performances. “
 
“The technique with real time rendering which we had been developing was pretty much a perfect match.  Neil Riley (VFX Supervisor) and Sajjad Amjad (Technical Director) were able to fast track the development process and figure out ways to overcome all the various challenges.  The first thing we had to figure out was a great control system, which led us to what is actually quite a traditional puppeteering control system used for animatronics.  One of the ground breaking elements of the process is the way we can mix pre-animated sequences with live puppeteering enabling seamless performances, such as when Waldo rips his own head of whilst still lip syncing and performing live.  Puppeteers Rob Tygner and Richard Coombs are both controlling Waldo at the same time, with Richard focusing on the lip sync.  Animation director Darren Walsh controls the arms and also triggers any pre-animated sequences.”
 
Credits
 
Title: Black Mirror Series 2
Writer: Charlie Brooker
Exec Producer: Annabel Jones
Director: Bryn Higgins
Producer Barney Reisz
Production Company: Zeppotron
Broadcaster: Channel 4
Episode Title: The Waldo Moment
Transmission Info: Monday 25th February 2013, at 10pm C4
 
Digital Puppeteering Credits:
Character Design: Darren Walsh and Painting Practice
Animation Director: Darren Walsh
Animation Producer: Russell McLean
Animation VFX Supervisor: Neil Riley
Animation Technical Director: Sajjad Amjad
Puppeteers: Rob Tygner, Richard Coombs
Production Company: Passion Pictures
 
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Passion Animation Studios, Tue, 19 Feb 2013 13:23:32 GMT