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    Wednesday
    Sep012010

    The Future Schools Project

    Once upon a time, there was slate and chalk. Then paper and pencils. Blackboards, then whiteboards. Then interactive whiteboards. Now, like all of us, schools are seeing technology advance at ever-increasing speed. So what does that mean for the schools of the future?

    This film was made to show how one client is trying to answer that question. They asked us to demonstrate their approach for combining future technologies with planned, flexible layouts to create the ideal learning environment.

    Inspired by Microsoft’s Future Vision films, we developed a narrative for the film and brought the vision to life through a fusion of live action, CG digital environments and motion graphics.

    It wasn’t easy. We had four weeks to do everything: storyboard, assemble a crew, props and actors, do the green-screen shoot, create all the CG digital environments, and develop the demonstration graphic user interfaces.

    For the shoot, we put together and directed a crew of camera operator, director of photography, VFX supervisor and make-up artist. Shooting in a 4K digital format on the RED One camera meant we could rush the footage back to the studio and start editing immediately. And the stunning resolution was way beyond standard 1920*1080 HD, which made keying (removing the green-screen backdrops) very efficient.

    Our six child actors were slightly less predictable, but the energy levels of Jay Ruckley, star of CBeebies’ Grandpa in my Pocket, kept everyone motivated. Meanwhile, the main teacher role was played by our own intern, Rosie Harris, who had the task of performing a long series of complex hand gestures against a huge sheet of perspex, with only a barely visible series of dots and numbers as her guide.

    Back in the studio, the 3D team had been modelling the digital environments for the backgrounds, while a graphic designer and motion graphics artist created and animated the user interfaces for the film.

    Then all we had to was put the whole thing together.

    We used a whole range of tools: Andersson Technologies SynthEyes for tracking; 3D Studio Max and VRay for the 3D elements; Adobe After Effects for keying, motion graphics and VFX; and Premiere Pro to put it all together. We also commissioned a beautiful custom soundtrack by Adelphoi Music (also famous for their award-winning work on ‘Compare the meerkat.com’).

    But would it work? The first test came as the film took centre stage in a major presentation to politicians and stakeholders. We held our breath. And watched a tough, seasoned headteacher shed a tear of happiness. Result.


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