In the race to complete the Oscar contender BLACK SWAN for its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, the independent film producers Brian Oliver and John Breaux at Cross Creek Pictures turned to Engine Room to design a theatrical ID for their new production company. The result is a slick noir style, black & white piece that perfectly accompanies Darren Aronofsky’s latest directorial masterpiece.
ER had been courting UK designer Allison Moore for several years and finally the Cross Creek project created the perfect opportunity to join forces. ER and Moore worked closely to develop the client’s original concept of a period steam engine traversing a trestle bridge into storyboards before going into production. A few short days later the first animation test was rendered and within a week the ER team presented the finished theatrical ID to the producers in a screening room at E-Film in Hollywood. Oliver and Breaux were proud of the results and within a week the new Cross Creek Pictures ID premiered along with BLACK SWAN, to open the 2010 Venice Film Festival with appropriate fanfare.
On the new Planet Green series FUTURE FOOD, the kitchen is regarded much more as a laboratory environment offering inspiration for a more scientific approach to the logo and graphics package design. Much as celebrity chefs Omar Cantu and Ben Roche are pushing food preparation into the future in experimental and wild ways, Engine Room has done the same for the show’s look departing from the typical and somewhat tired look of traditional cooking shows. Engine Room took cues from grade school scientific experiments rather than frying pans and food resulting in a clean and playful look. The design was so well received at Planet Green that they also adopted it for their promo campaign leading up to the premiere in spring 2010.
Future Food premieres March 30th on Planet Green.
It had been a while since Gary Hartley, Senior Creative Director at Fox Sports Graphics, had picked Engine Room as a production partner for his many sports graphics projects. There have been years past when ER had produced half a dozen live-action shoots or more for the department, but when he, and Exec Producer Cathy Perow got the Miller/Fox design boards approved by the client, they knew that it was a perfect project for Engine Room.
The result was three Miller/Fox “Taste Greatness Moment” game overlay graphics packages. Each consists of a :15 second introduction piece and a :30 second graphic bed for replay of “Taste Greatness Moments” from the game, for the entire Basketball, Baseball and Hockey seasons.
As the design contained both a graphic animation side and a live action component, both the Live Action and the Design arms of the studio teamed up on the project. The one-day Phantom Camera shoot involved assembling a seasoned liquids team to wrangle the beer and product elements. There was also a motion control element to move the camera on its specific path.
After a color session at Technicolor, ER veterans Eric Heavens and Dave Piedra then took over with the goal of bringing the design boards to life. After many weeks of animation, 3D and compositing the three packages were finally delivered and will air on many live sporting events throughout the coming year.
Two independently produced, but critically acclaimed feature films turn to Engine Room for their extensive packages of “invisible effects”. Clothing Designer Tom Ford and Commercial Director Floria Sigismondi were both first time feature film directors, but you wouldn’t know it. Colin Firth was granted an Oscar nomination for his leading roll in “A Single Man”, and who knows what’s in store for “The Runaways” Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.
Both films were perfectly suited for Engine Room’s boutique style of collaboration as both directors have a meticulous artistic eye for detail. There were other similarities as well; each was a period project that required VFX assistance to set their backdrop.
Working with Tom Ford on “A Single Man” (The Weinstein Company) was a memorable experience for all the artists at Engine Room. His perfectionist vision and creative will both challenged and energized the studio. Engine Room made good on the 120 VFX shots contributed to his film, but not without many entertaining stories along the way. Besides delivering the extensive effects package, the studio’s live action wing also produced several critical insert shoots in support of the film, further demonstrating how ER brings much more to film projects than just CG support.
On “The Runaways” (River Road/Apparition), the story of Joan Jet and her legendary teenage rock band of the ‘70’s, Engine Room delivered close to 80 VFX shots, which included many period recreation shots. These scenes took place at the base of the then dilapidated, Hollywood Sign, which was restored to its current state after the movie takes place. ER’s in-house matte artist Dave Piedra brought an artistic vision to these shots that Sigismondi and the film’s renowned editor Peter Chew were thrilled by.
For both Ford and Sigismondi, their films were absolute labors of love and as independent filmmakers from Nick Cassavetes to John Sayles have discovered, Engine Room matches their passion in its work. The result is a perfect visual effects playground on which to realize the forward reaching vision of today’s independent filmmakers.