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BBC Three Big Field

Recently I had fun animating laser eyes and compositing exploding melons for BBC Three’s second series of Big Field. The latest series chops up dialogue from TV programmes and interprets them in a silly way with actors in a big field. The series is created by Darren Dutton and Jonny Roberts.

Big Field 2 - Judge Rinder

The sketch I worked on blends up Judge Rinder into a laser shooting, moron hating, tap pervert. You can watch the rest of the sketches on YouTube or check them out on the BBC iPlayer

 

 

 

Croissant Behind the Scenes

About 3 years ago outside a coffee shop, Ian got some croissant on his face and a silly sketch popped out fully formed. The main challenge was how to attach structurally unstable croissants to a face. We asked Twitter and THE Bob Mortimer told us “copydex”. If sticking stuff to your face is good enough for them it’s good enough for us. After Croissant’s first screening we heard Bob had ‘fallen’ and underwent a triple bypass. Sorry it took 3 years to make Bob.

 

 

Kings Sandwich Bar

This summer we wanted a nice excuse to work with our clever mates and have something to show at a couple of festivals. We settled on Croissant, which at first felt more like a sketch, but there were so many weird elements to it that there was a reason we hadn’t braved it yet.

We feel that animation and live action should only be used when they’re most useful. It would have been easy to make a 2D cartoon, but that wouldn’t have had much impact beyond the amusing concept. The aim was to make the film purely funny in every aspect and have the audience feel the escalation is spontaneously happening right there. However that’s achieved through quite a technical way. The actors and their chemistry have to fit with the correct surrounding. There needs to be some sort of relationship subtext so that you can care about why they’re angry/confused. The transformations should look shoddy but believable.  The pastry levels have to increase in the right increments. The roaring torrent of jam has to be a punchline that can’t be topped (I would have liked more jam).

It felt like it should take place somewhere like a roadside cafe. Maybe because roadside cafe’s feel like strange limbos, but probably because we like greasy spoon cafes. As for actors, Tom Reid was always going to be our number one croissant. John Henry Falle was so impressive on DuckManBoy that we had to find a way to work with each other again. Together, Tom’s small performance versus John Henry’s jangly, booming  performance was brilliant to watch.prop sketches

PROPS:

Next thing to work on was the Croissant head. After a while of painting and glazing, the smell of stale reference croissants started to make me think I had a painted an actual huge croissant.

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The squirty eyes were made under the wisdom of Chris Randall. I turned up with some pingpong balls, jumbo syringes, tubing and twelve jars of cheap jam. Chris immediately rolled up his sleeves. The first test was a thick jam fail. Cordial made a lot more sense and could wash out. We also got bonus Doctor advice to shorten the tubes for less resistance.

squirt-test-1Squirt-testsjam-3

I enquired about a custom croissant handlebar moustache and eyebrows with a French patisserie, but realised it was easy enough to just bake/grill puff pastry to make sturdy but flakey facial hair.

 

Post-Production:

In the script there was no specific dialogue or clear cut emotional ramp until the obvious big transformations. Capturing the spontaneity of the performance took priority so I threw out continuity in favour of building and layered the performance in the edit.  It took about 2 edits to realise this. Up to then, the performance felt consciously cut and snarky. Once the continuity was ruined it was quite freeing to do the ‘croissant choreography’ from scratch, even though this meant removing and adding croissant on most of Tom’s shots. It also meant I could really start experimenting with the rhythm of the edit. The emotional build up of the characters became much clearer too. John Henry’s nervousness is brewed up by Tom’s stupidity to the point where you can see why he would crack. It took a lot of time and we debated whether we should have done things differently, but the only way round would have been a day of rehearsals we didn’t have, or tons of retakes which might have killed the atmosphere.
 
croissant flakes butter meltframing
 
green screenjam eyesmouth

 
Craig’s framing on the shoot really captured Tom’s performance and built the tension, but all of my edit meddling lead to inconsistent framing. This meant that half the shots were reframed with tracked background plates. That sounds like an unnecessary amount of work, but it gave the scenes a flow by steadily pushing the camera back and forwards on Tom. By the time I’d gone this deep I went the whole way and fixed a couple of continuity errors, rubbed out jam tubes and rubber bands, painted Tom’s face, and made his butter fascinator melt.
 
Making a jam torrent that would smash into Tom without a ruining the cafe was another hurdle. Genius Chris Randall came to the rescue again. He had the idea of turning Tom on his back against a green screen and pouring jam from above to give the illusion of lots of gravity defying force. Otherwise we’d need to bodge together pressurised equipment full of jam. Buckets full of watery jam were a lot easier.

Crew:

We had one of the nicest teams we could have had for filming in such a tight space.

We’ve done stuff with Craig Bush for a few years now. We share a lot of the same humour and he was the one that chose Croissant as the next film.

Pete Styles is a great sound designer and recordist and wehad wanted to work with him for a while. He’s one of the loveliest guys going, and since shooting this Craig, Pete and me have got to keep the fun going on a few location shoots.

Beth Lowes was amazing and one-upped Bob Mortimer’s ‘Copydex’ with ‘eyelash glue’. We’re really grateful that she chose to use her Sunday to share Tom’s head as a craft project.

Also a huge thanks to Kings Sandwich Bar in Kings Heath. After recceing around town and scouring Google Maps, the only cafe that was closed on Sunday, happy to film, and had the world’s best mural of a full breakfast, was just a mile up the road. Thanks to Lucy from King’s for cameoing as the waitress too.

‘Premiere’:

The film got it’s first showing at Bar Shorts in Shoreditch. By most accounts it got the best laughs of the night. Ian filmed this nice video of the reaction:

GIFs:

Here’s some GIFs. Everyone likes GIFs.

 

Croissant at HA HA Shorts


haha shortsOn 27th October, we’ll be back at Bar Shorts at The Book Club in Shoreditch. We’ll be screening Man In A Cat and road-testing our new film Croissant as part of this evening’s theme, ‘HA HA Shorts’.

Massive thanks to Dog and Rabbit who put the night on. It looks like a great lineup and worth going just for Chris Shepherd’s presenting style. There will be a few of us there so come along if you want to say Hi.

It’s a free and doors are open at 7pm for an 8pm start. You can tell them your coming here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ha-ha-shorts-tickets-18971531361

Here’s the Facebook Event if that does it for you: https://www.facebook.com/events/1504715969821607/

 

*EDIT* Croissant got a great reception. Here’s a video of the reaction:

 

Backwards Banana

Some say that the banana is evidence of God’s design. It’s not if you turn the banana the other way round.

The music is Lasciami Il Tuo Sorriso by Nico Fidenco – I’ve been enjoying ’60s Italian Pop lately. The hazy vertical bar on the right is the frame of a mirror I shot through to get extra depth. I should have used a polarizer for my big shiny glasses.

For further reading here’s Kirk Cameron explaining that bananas are ‘The Atheists’ Nightmare’ (His other demonstration on pineapples is eye-wateringly determined):

Diet Cadbury Creme Egg

It’s just been Easter here (a curious festival of egg and cross-themed drinking) so to celebrate we made a little video about a new product that’s set to shake up the worlds of chocolate and dieting. Here’s the new Diet Cadbury Creme Egg…

Lady Mail Man

This a sketch we wrote and directed. It’s about a man named Dwayne who has a date with a lady mail man. Whatever one of those is.
CAST
Emma Pearce
Tom Reid

Written by Ian Ravenscroft
Direction, Editing, Sound Design – Louis Hudson
Sound – Dan McHugh
DOP – Alan Dolhasz
Colour Correction – Ed Lawes

Filmed at 6/8 Kafé, Birmingham, UK.

Big thanks to 144 for shooting and colour correcting.

Lighting supplied by Second Home Studios

Here’s a bonus behind the scenes snap taken by Craig at 6/8 Kafé

Touching Bum

I’ve finally had a chance to edit the sketch, ‘Touching Bum‘, we did with David Brain and Louis Clark. It’s only taken year, but it has more effects than all the Star Wars films and Avatar combined so that’s pretty much fine really. Actually, due to a couple of mishaps a bit of ‘creative editing’ was needed which is why there’s a few odd cuts, but it was worth finishing.

You can’t really hear it, but the music in the background is Nightvision by Airport85. Buy the track here: http://airport85.bandcamp.com/track/nightvision

There’s also been a melodramatic French remake entitled: ‘La Honte de Toucher Derrière

BBC Reporters Will Kill For Good Breakfast Juice

We made a silly about a BBC reporter who chucks in impartiality and joins the rebels to finally get his hotel accommodation up to scratch. He’s got a pretty menacing gun there too.

King of Limbs – Secret Session Track

Ian’s made his own tribute to Thom’s groovy moves. LOADS of other people have done the same and a best of has been put together at: dancingthom.tumblr.com

Tom’s Bedroom

We’ve finally found out what Tom gets up to on his own…