Wowmedia Creative Director produces A/V for historic Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier Launch – watched by the Queen!

11 07 2014


Way back in my first post (2009) when I produced the A/V for the HMS Clyde launch,         I joked about working on the Carrier launch.

Five years on, I was given the job of Creative Director for the Queen Elizabeth Naming Ceremony. This involved working with the Aircraft Alliance Partners in designing the show and producing all of the animated and video content.

It was a fantastic day. The Queen named the ship, the bottle smashed and even the Scottish weather held back the rain until after the show.

This project involved a large number of people, from government, our forces, industry and musicians – all of whom worked tirelessly to produce a quality, polished show and I feel very honored to have been part of the team.

You can view the entire Naming Ceremony here:

From the outset, I wanted to tell the story for the Carrier build using real comments from the teams of people who had deigned and built her. I filmed over 70 employee interviews at various ship-building and partner sites across the UK in just 5 days, often setting up and breaking down a portable green-screen studio 3x a day. You can see an number of the full length interviews at:
Many thanks to anyone who took part in these interviews, your stories and work on this historic piece of British engineering are truly inspirational.

I then used sections from these interviews to build an audio narrative. Mixed with time-lapse footage that we’d collected across the sites, this demonstrated how the QE was built. The video was used in the ceremony before the bottle-smash:

The other story to tell related to the QE Carriers future. Why the UK needs such a state of the art Carrier, her technology and what her roles are likely to be during her 50 year lifespan. This video includes interviews with Admiral Sir George Michael Zambellas the First Sea Lord and Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford. This video played post bottle-smash.

I also produced a number of supporting video/animated clips that played along with the people videos as entertainment before the show:

For all those techies…… I used a Canon EOS C100 to film all the interviews and B-Roll – the image detail is just amazing from this little camera making green-screens (even using a pop up green studio in a tiny portacabin next to the Tyne) . All the 3D was made using 3dstudio Max. The interviews were edited in Adobe Premiere CC and the multi-layered stuff was composited in  Adobe After Effects – for speed and as a general all-round package you can’t beat it!

Finally, a mention must also go to my soundman David Tozer for putting up with me for 5 days whilst driving the 1000s of miles on our dockyard tour and always smiling (most of the time through his teeth).

Thanks for reading. Mark.

Extinct but Still Swimming Prehistoric Nautiloid

28 05 2009
  Rayonnoceras Espeyense - Prehistoric Nautiloid
Commissioned by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, I was tasked with breathing life back into this extinct 2 million year old sea beastie. Its real name is Rayonnoceras Espeyense but was lovingly called ‘Ned’ throughout the project. This sequence (edited version seeen here) loops on a plasma screen next to the actual shell fossil within the museum and is the first time I’ve animated a ‘creature’; especially one with tentacles. The whole sequence took roughly four weeks.
Here’s an inside look at the bones and springs rig I set-up for my Nautiloids tentacles.
Attempting to animate over 200 bones by hand would have been very time-consuming so I needed to find a way of controlling the tentacles using the minimum amount of key-frames. This hierachy of bones connected to springs method in 3dsmax allowed me to control almost all the tentacles by wriggling their parent bone. To add subtle differences between each tentacle I also keyframed each root bone. This rig didn’t work when I had to jump the creature forward, at this point the tentacles would fly backwards into it’s head. For this shot I used a mixture of hand keyframing and ripple spacewarps.

DJ Sander Kleinenberg, 12_cameras, 6_crew, 8_screens & thousands of clubbers live at the Ministry of Sound, UK

25 01 2009

Shot at the famous Ministry of Sound club for Pioneer ProDJ to demonstrate their new SVM-1000 AV mixer.

I Directed a crew of six cameramen and also used a further six cameras rigged in various locations around the club. We shot over 26 hours of tape that were edited into this five minute piece. It was an amazing experience. The clubbers were very friendly and Sanders set was a big crowd pleaser.

Photos I took during the recce of the club with Simon Hart from Pioneer                pretending to be Sander.Photos taken of the Ministry of Sound DJ Booth during my Recce

My quick visualisation of the DJ booth used to discuss camera and lighting locations with the crew pre-shootmy quick visualisation of the DJ booth used to discuss camera positions to the crew before the shoot

Cinema Advert post-produced in two days

25 01 2009

Post-produced in just two days this was my first cinema advert.

Designed for producers Grosvenor TV, I was tasked with the offline, edit, treating the rushes and post-producing the advert. We had just two days – 42hrs almost non-stop – to edit(including offline) and post-produce the sequence before the digital HD files were transferred to celluloid. The advert was shown in cinemas nationally to coincide with the film ‘Amazing Grace’. It also won Grosvenor TV an IVCA Clarion award.

I used uncompressed high-definition image files inside After Effects to keep the quality to a cinema standard. 

Broadcast animation on a budget!

25 01 2009

It’s a tricky time for production companies, with sophisticated TV Audiences expecting jaw-droping movie style sequences whilst their budgets are squeezed by the broadcasters due to an overload of channels and dwindling commercial revenue.

Why pay megabucks to the Soho Square producers when you can get the same quality produced at a fraction of the cost? Here’s a montage of sequences produced for the BBC, Meridian Channel Four, Channel Five, The History Channel and Television advertisements.

Full-Length Sequences taken from broadcasts:

Mocap for Muscle man

25 01 2009

Part of the Fitness exhibit @Bristol Science Museum, this sequence is used as a larger than life projected VR aerobics instructer that encourages kids to take part in his exercise routines.

My brief was to animate a man without skin (so we can see his muscles) performing aerobics.
This was achieved by capturing Mocap data of a dancer performing the routine and then applying this to the rigged 3D CGI model. The hands, jaw and eyes were then key-framed by hand.
The only issue with this process was that my dancer was only 5.2ft and had a small frame wheras my muscle man was 6ft and strapping. This caused a problem with his arms moving his ribs so the shoulder bones had to be tweaked slightly to stop this from happening.

During experimentation with textures and lighting I produced ‘wet’ looking muscles. This was looked pretty real but my client rejected this as it looked like a creature from Hellraiser doing the Jane Fonda workout! 

Capturing the Motion Data at Bournemouth University

Capturing the Motion Data at Bournemouth University



Virtual Studios, why make one when I can fake one?

24 01 2009

In 2008 I made a number of presenter led videos using a custom built Virtual Studio.  Using this technique really adds a wow-factor and production value to potentially dull content and allows me to add animated elements in-front, behind or even around the chroma-keyed presenter. It also looks expensive but using my template it can be quick and give lots of bangs for bucks. Here are a few examples.

VR Studio demo made for Focus TV to demonstrate their studio facilities in Southampton

HP Storageworks RDX Presenter led video

The trouble with tech-products is that they’re often just grey boxes so how do you make them exciting? Using a talented presenter adds an element of engagement to the products. This sequence was shot in a green studio, the VR studio and video wall etc are added in post-production.
Timescale: 3.5 weeks

Smartflow Finance – Module 2 of 4

Wowmedia suggested a dynamic VR studio treatment for this video adding significant production value and interest to the content whilst working within a tight timescale and budget. Working closely with their client communications agency ‘Be a Tiger’, Wowmedia designed, directed & post-produced four modules totalling 15 minutes. This is module 2 of 4.
Timescale: 5 weeks for all modules.

Shooting the video at Fleetwood Films Studio near Basingstoke.

filming at Fleetwood Films Studio near Basingstoke

James Zabelia in Shark Bait

24 01 2009

Commissioned by Pioneer ProDJ this sequence was designed to demonstrate thier DJM-800 mixer. Shot on chroma-green (original studio shoot is also below). The CGI sub-sea environment and sealife were generated in 3dstudio Max and were layered in After Effects. This video was made in less than three weeks as it was required for an event.  Please let me know what you think.

Shark Bait – How did I make it?        A layer by layer explanation. 

 Made and edited by my friend Simon Burges from production company Sugar Snap TV, this video has me demonstrating each stage of the post-production process for this video – It’s weird being on the other side of the camera, I’m now on a diet and exercise regime!

Original Chroma-key studio shoot pre-effects edit

Here’s the original edit without any effects. I used a fan to blow James’ hair and some wavy silver foil to fake some caustic reflections. The white Pioneer desk looked naff so I decided to replace it in post-production. If you look at the wide shots you’ll see some hanging white boards, these were placed over the equipment to stop the lights reflecting into the equipment.

Quite a large product launch. The biggest (and scariest) project of my career……to date.

22 01 2009

VT Shipbuilding (now BVT) staged a spectacular naming ceremony to commemorate the first ship to be built and launched at Portsmouth in 40 years. I was tasked with creating the screen documentary style video  and a 140M High Definition projection that would play across the entire ship. The show was viewed by 3000+ spectators and was broadcast on the news. I spent six weeks working on the sequences but could only test the projection rig the night before the show – thankfully my graphics (based on the CAD drawings) aligned with the ship. The overall event won VT the RSVP corporate event of the year award. They’re currently building the new Aircraft Carriers so fingers crossed I’ll get another go………but will have to hire a ton of projectors!

Part 1

Part 2

A rather drunk me at award ceremony - yes, I was that suprised!

A rather drunk me at award ceremony - yes, I was that suprised!