Wednesday, 20 July 2016

I Can Storyboard Dead People

For Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) I worked across two series (13 episodes) between 1999 and 2000. It was my most intense TV series commitment to that point. 
Before the return of Doctor Who in 2005 I suspect this was the most concentrated use of digital effects work ever attempted by a UK TV company (and indeed Working Title TV focused the might of then-new Double Negative to achieve this).

Charlie Higson, in an early instance of the ‘show runner’ role more associated with American TV – and later exemplified by the likes of Russell T. Davies – gathered writers and directors to re-envisage the original lightweight show from my 1960s childhood: a romp involving two detective partners (one dead but very active as a ghost - happens all the time).
Across the series the directors I worked with were Higson himself, Mark Mylod, Rachel Talalay, Metin Huseyin and Steve Bendelack.
For Series 1 I created dense, landscape format A4 sheets of 12 frames each, with a lighter line approach and cross-hatching to add depth. 

Any director's notes on type of shot, or – as above and below here – lines from the script (actually lyrics from Dean Martin's 'Ain't It A Kick In The Head') to map the action to the word, were added beneath the frame. In retrospect it was felt these represented almost too much information in one hit.

For Series 2 we chose to use a portrait format with only three frames arranged vertically and allowing space for any director’s notes when the boards were circulated. I also added a deeper black to add depth and emphasis to elements within the frames where time allowed.

In the early pre-production for Series 1 I developed some conceptual ideas for ghost effects, other-worldly places, demons and the like. 
Here are such instances - the idea of the ghost diving inside a man's head through his ear was used in one episode pretty faithfully.

And then, after two years and many hundreds of frames – Randall and Hopkirk were both deceased.

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