Tuesday, 29 December 2009

RBC - Shiny Happy Relay - final 60 sec clip.

This was the final 60 sec spot. The delivery time-frame was tighter than a fishes asshole - so water cant get in ( as my grandfather used to say.) 
The result is pretty good considering the production schedule, and multiple language and time versions required, however ultimately I would have loved one or two more weeks on it. You can check a production diary on my site at bitstate.com.


Director ( bitstate ) : Pete Circuitt

Modeler ( bitstate ): Jay Harwood.
Production : TEG
post production : Golden Square.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Yes Virginia : Mr Church - first version.

This was the first very version of Mr Church I developed during the early pitch process, his body in this case, was a portrait from the time period, so we stuck his head on that. In the early days i was also keen to push for smoking in the film, as it was honest to the time period, but this idea was dropped early on for obvious reasons.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Yes Virginia - full cast line up

This image is a line up of all the cast in the concept art phase - as you can see there is quite alot of characters to show development for. A special mention to Fola Akinola here who took over from Bill Sneed to be my lead character artist for the film after the Romantic Gentleman Sneed departed for the city of angels. I'll upload more character work next week.

Yes Virginia - first boardomatic ( excerpt )

One of the things that i felt was really beautiful was the original work on the first boardomatic illustrated by Marcus Reed. The amount of detail he drew in each frame was phenomenal. We sat outside in the fading British summer and talked through the film several times, postulating and acting out each role to establish the frames required in this short frame boardomatic. This is really early on in script development when the opening shot pulled up on Virginia in a classroom instead of her house. Virginia's dad was modeled after Morrissey, and he had wooden body parts on the kitchen table, and the bully Charlotte was a boy named Charlie. And finally that is Mr Church leaving the library as Virginia arrives. In the original script Mr Church secretly pines for the librarian's favour.

early mood film and crowd tests

Early on back in December 08 when Yes Virginia was perhaps going to be much smaller i set to work on the film by myself. One thing that i knew would be problematic would be to get the city streets to have the right density of extras for a busy city. So i made a quick hack-job of a crowd generator in my 3d software that actually became quite powerful. It meant i could have several character variations. Also all the crowd 'clones' of those variations would use the one 32 frame walk cycle but each use of that walk cycle would be randomly offset to give the impression that each clone was unique. The opening shot on this mood film has over 150 clones walking down the left hand side of the street. I dont have collision detection or anything like that but felt it did the job for wide shots. Music here is Wilco.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Introduction - Yes Virginia Production Diary -


The work in this Diary I am very proud of. Not only because I think its a great body of work but also because it was made in a very short time. Its no secret I worked myself breathless on this project but everyone who was involved in this film, from the voice talent to the artists on the production floor, genuinely felt affection for it and wanted it to be great. This film needed that sort of dedication to make it appear truly touched by the human hand, rather than a computer, which was very important to me.

Virginia - early concept art

Bill Sneed and I worked together on the original pitch back way back in August 2008. We executed this pitch together over a period of three feverish summer days and it fell to Bill to execute the concept sketches for Virginia. Bill fell in love, and so the romantic gentleman departed for LA not long afterwards, but you can see how the original concept art was key to the development to Virginia’s character.
She is a beautiful character, but to get her to look so sweet from all angles took ALOT of work in the 3D department. This is because her head is quite big and flat. Ultimately if virginia was seen in profile it would not be flattering to her character design so we determined during layout that we would try to limit these shots as much as possible. We did an enormous amount of tweaking on her face geometry to make it work for the shots and I think it payed off handsomely. I am so proud of this character, and there is so much to say about the character development in general which sadly I don’t think I’ll have time to do write this up at length just yet.

<--- Virginia - final character

opening shot development

This clip shows how the opening sequence developed from the very first pitch, to the final film. Although I did the pitch move and the pre-viz camera move myself, the post work on the teaser was executed in Barcelona with the very good people at Boolab. The final film was completed with Starz Animation.

Sets : bedroom - sketches, film frames and the Edmonds cookbook.

I used Cinema 4D extensively for all concept work. Virginia's bedroom needed to have a special touch, and her central window feature provided the lighting and mood device I was after. The optimistic sun design I wanted for the this stained glass window in her room features alot in my work - why ? because something similar was on the cover of my mums cookbook when I was a kid.

Sets : Kitchen - sketches, reference, and lighting paintover

The kitchen is one of my favorite sets, probably because I quite like kitchens in real life but also because I had such a terrific time down at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London.  The good people there took me in after hours and opened up the dolls houses so I could cleanly photograph some reference. The miniature look was a style was a style I wanted to push for early on. The really tough schedule made that difficult but I am proud of the quality of sets in the time we had.

Yes Virginia - trailer

Yes Virginia - the first trailer. from Pete Circuitt on Vimeo.

Abbey Rd - recording the score.

This was a blast - visiting Abby road to experience how a score is put down to a film. The surprising thing was on the day it is all pretty much real-time - very little post-work is involved, by that i mean track mixing. I know alot of work goes on for the musicians to get to this level but it is so completely different to animation. Spot a mistake ? well that will be a 15 hour re-render sir ! The orchestral record was all done in four hours - you gotta love that. Thats Wayne and Matt on the final two shots, the creators of Yes Virginia.

Sets : the study - sketches and styleframe.

I used Cinema 4D extensively for all concept work. I prefer to work in 3D space as quickly as possible, so my sketches were then modeled in Bitstate’s london studio by Jay Harwood. I would then take the 3D set to texture, and set dress it, to my liking. I am a pretty hands on guy and really love doing this stuff myself as it establishes the look and feel for the film for everybody in production to see before we put these models into final surfacing. Its also a great way to figure out cameras and lens work early on as you can drop a camera in the scene to visualize your shots accurately to how it should play out via the script. Jay's very quick and clean modeling was vital to my process.
I called this stage script geography as it plotted out the space the characters would move with-in against the script. For example I wanted Virginia to open a door at the back of the room, and almost timidly approach her occupied father, to ask the big question - ‘ papa, is there a santa claus ? ‘

Sets : Churches office - sketches and styleframe.

I am really fond of some of these sketches. Some of these were quite early on - you will see a secretaries desk on the right which we scratched early on - and we changed the windows slightly to make them more elegant. Incidentally you will notice in the film that, like Virginia's room, these windows were strategically placed to give us really dramatic lighting options.

wall artwork

I drew and painted the medically themed poster wall art, in the screen printed style of the day, and painted the framed family portrait also for the fathers study. The grumpy looking suited man I painted for churches office. I felt strongly that this subtle detail would help build upon the period piece we were making, and that detail would at times saturate the frame to be achingly beautiful.
I would have loved the time to paint more of these. As an animator myself sometimes I start to really appreciate the thought of making an image to be looked at singularly, something you can actually hold in your hand rather than look at on a screen.

Film Stills

Virginia : final character.

And this is the final Virginia in her outdoor costume, holding her famous letter.

Virginia - early 3D development

A still from the teaser we executed in January, and our first 3D version of the Virginia character standing to the right holding the letter - you can see how much work was done after January on her face shape to get it to work in 3D while keeping the charm of the original concept art.

Virginia : alternate concepts.

Here are some alternate concepts for Virginia that were discarded early on. The blond version looks a little like Jody, a tiny version of the girl who stole Bill’s heart.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

press clippings - Yes Virginia.

I thought it might be useful to collect all the press clippings these will be listed below as they come to hand.


source e creative

official blurb and time of the premier screening
CBS announces YES, VIRGINIA, a new animated Christmas special based on the 1897 true story of Virginia O'Hanlon, an 8-year-old girl who inspired the most famous newspaper editorial of all time by asking, "Is there aSanta Claus?"
Friday, Dec. 11 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Cast - Yes Virginia

Alfred Molina ( voice of Francis Church ) is an accomplished London-born actor whose diverse and distinguished gallery of performances has led to a lengthy and triumphant career in film, television and the stage.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS (voice of Dr Philip O'Hanlon ): Equally successful on stage and screen, Harris continues to demonstrate his creative versatility, most recently voicing the character of Steve the Monkey in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT (voice of Mrs Laura O'Hanlon ) currently stars in CBS’ hit drama series, Ghost Whisperer.

BEATRICE MILLER (voice of Virginia), a ten-year-old New Jersey native .

Sunday, 6 December 2009


credit list for TEG / Bitstate below

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

RBC - Shiny Happy Relay - pitch clips.

Here are the clips I furnished to the agency with the original pitch, the first one shows how I wanted the runners to group together and the second was an example of how I saw the rotational sets would work to transition through the diverse regions of Canada.

RBC - shiny happy relay - pitch clips

These are some of the clips I provided to the agency with the pitch. The first one shows how the characters would run on the set, the second shows the rotational set design.