Very often the last thing many people see before sleep is an illuminated screen of some form. Lucid explores the concept of these illuminations echoing into our dream states as dynamic and kinetic screens. As the apparitions gain a presence of their own, it’s questionable whether the somnambulist or her illuminated companions are in control of the dream.
I joined the master of LED levitation — GMUNK and a London based team assembled by Flying Screens to help create a short film titled Lucid. The focus of the piece was to show off their new drones, each sporting a pair of LED screens. I worked with GMUNK to create several animations for the drone screens and used 3D software to make a defined choreography for the drones. Once in London, I spent some quality time with the DoP James Medcraft as we made movie magic several stories below the city streets.
Role: Animation & Editing
Client: Flying Screens Ltd
Lucid was filmed 5 stories below the streets of Islington Green, London in Collins Music Hall. Four screen-wielding drones, the first of its kind produced by the fine chaps at Flying Screens Ltd were the heroes of the show. To light the surrounding coves of the subterranean space, dozens of LED strips and several strobe lights provided the illumination to compliment the drones. A speaker system was installed to play the track entitled ‘Glue’ – produced by the UK duo Bicep, which was tightly choreographed by the great Aaron Sillis and performed by the most fabulous dancer Zakiya.
Four drone pilots controlled the drones and matched their flight paths to a 3D previs animation produced by Call Me Clark. Once everything was in place, Zakiya would take the stage and vegan soul-mate DoP James Medcraft operated the camera – which was an Alexa Mini withCooke Anamorphics. The piece was filmed with a multitude of camera rigs, ranging everywhere from a steadicam operated by Matt Allsop, to a variety of dollies and a 23 foot crane peering down from the top floor.
Each take began with the entire playback system being cued from a DAW, so the screens would always match the right portion of the music. The venue lights were cued by the same system, so the entire structure would react as one whole unit and was tightly synchronized to the other elements in the stack.
Behind the Scenes
In order to prepare for our shoot, I created the entire drone choreography within cinema 4D. Using octane renderer, I could apply our drone graphics and test out different lighting solutions with various camera angles. This gave the team a solid storyboard to use for our shot list and a guide for camera placement / lens millimeter to use.
The drones each featured 2 LED screens, which made for a strange challenge to choreograph. The screens have a pixel dimension of 90 x 38, so the graphics couldn’t be too high-resolution. We resorted to creating an array of color washes and minimal shapes that would react to the music. I also created an array of symbols, which we’re meant to imply a language that the drones use to communicate with each other. While on set, we shot several takes of the dancer so that she would be mirrored in the drone screens.
Drone Screen Content
Client: Flying Screens Ltd
Director of Photography: James Medcraft
Technical Director: Dave Green
Executive Producer: Bryn Williams
Executive Producer: Mark Calvert
Choreographer: Aaron Sillis
Original Concept & Script: Zak Norman
Animator / Editor: Peter Clark
Drone Engineering: Flying Screens
Scenic Lighting: Light Initiative
Producer: Mike Jones
Assistant Producer: Byron McNally
1st Assistant Director: Tristan Hefele
1st AC: Danny Deighton
2nd AC: Saskia Dedman
Steadicam: Matt Allsop
DIT: Sophie Baggaley
Gaffer: Dom Aronin
Desk Op: Tom Young
Spark: Dave Palmieri
Spark 2: Bobby Hankins
Grip 1: Brett Lamerton
Grip 2: Ben Freeman
Production Manager: Adam Morris
Fashion supplied by: Rok Hwang
Garmet Advisor: Anna Traut
Wardrobe: Rebekah Pledger
Make Up: Rebecca Barnes
Floor Management: Light Initiative
Drone Pilot: Dave Young
Drone Pilot: Dean Winton
Drone Pilot: Mike Young
Drone Pilot: Ben Platts
Music: Bicep 'Glue'
Music Rights: BMG Ninja Tune
Battery Charging Engineer: Martin Harvey
BTS Cinematography & Edit: Peter Clark
BTS Photography: Antonio Pagano
BTS Music: ‘Why didn’t you Save Me’ by Nicholas Jaar
Health & Safety Advisor: Malcolm Pierce