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London's VFX Superheroes

By Henry Winchester

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Date Added: 21st October 2013

Very short film

Despite the mere 10-second time-span of Nick and Marti's segment, the two approached it as they would any other project. They began with a few sketches, then fleshed out ideas in Photoshop. From here they created a 3D model of the character, which was rigged and weight-painted so it moved realistically. A combination of Cinema4D, Illustrator and After Effects were used to create the finished product.

While the two were tempted to jam a three-act structure into their segment, they realised it was far better to keep it fluid and organic. As for their character, Nick believes he subconsciously drew on a close relative. "My dad thinks the superhero's based on him,” he says. "It's probably something to do with the vaguely ginger hair and the pot belly. He won't mind me saying that!”


The event drew interest through social media sites such as Twitter. Naturally, free beer also enticed people to come


Animade's take is stylishly retro

HP source

Of course, events like this don't just happen out of thin air, and there's a bit of a hidden agenda: it's run by Cut and Paste to promote HP's latest professional workstation graphics. Nevertheless, it's an amazing event, and one that's a world away from the stuffy corporate environment one would – unfortunately – associate with HP.

"The video RAM blows your face off!”

Both Nick and Marti, who are used to working on Apple Macs, are impressed with the high-end Windows-based workstations HP has provided for them. "There's like 128 gigs of RAM,” says Marti. "We're getting excited about the numbers,” chips in Nick. "The graphics are 12 gigabytes – ridonkulous! The video RAM blows your face off. The specs are crazy – we'd like to get them in just for rendering.”


When it's not being used for cool events, the location doubles up as a film set


Nick and Marti's segment shows the hero entering his midlift crisis

Nick and Marti's experience is just the tip of the iceberg of the creative process behind the video, which also includes input from Animade, Blackmeal, Fred & Eric, Golden Wolf and Mummu. The event's also open to the public, with luminaries of the visual effects industry attending to discuss the trials and tribulations of working with CG. Our day ended with a talk by The Mill, who told us about creating realistic CGI chimps and squirrels.

"(It's) been an experience, and it's been great”


When it's not being used for cool events, the location doubles up as a film set

That's a wrap!

The finished video is definitely something Nick and Marti – as well as the other animators – should be proud of. 10 seconds is just enough time to establish a unique art style, and it's telling that each attendee chose something completely different to the one before them. Nick and Marti's Saul Bass-style pseudo-3D is a particular highlight in a film that's comprised entirely of highlights.

" "For me, it's like being back at uni””


Audience participation is a big part of the event


The piece ends with Golden Wolf's London boozer-set escapade

Would they do it again? "Yes!” says Marti. "Just being able to talk about what we're doing at lunchtime has been an experience, and it's been great.” "For me, it's like being back at uni,” opines Nick. "Just that level of being able to bounce ideas back-and-forth.”

Related links

Cut and Paste's coverage
HP's Official Site

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
John Fiorelli on Thu, 24 October 2013 2:38am
Preston - tks for the feedback. A deep story would have been fun to do, but you're right, it wasn't the focus of this project. We wanted to play with a sort of exquisite corpse format, giving each studio the autonomy to show their impression of a fun hero character in their assigned life stage. At Cut&Paste we're experimenting with new formats that do provide for narrative. The trick is how teams/studios collaborate, share creative elements, while allowing them the chance to let their style distinguish itself. All told, we have good problems. :)
Preston Platt on Mon, 21 October 2013 8:56pm
I know the focus was not on story but when it comes to a short, artistic style and feels are nice but completely irrelevant in my eyes without depth of story. it was interesting to watch but left absolutely no impact on me.
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