MPC creates darkly compelling ads for Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror


Digital Arts | 29 January 13

VFX work for a spot for Channel 4's new series (above) involved creating a dream sequence, the factory filled with creepy workers and a huge dust cloud.

MPC has provided the VFX for a series of promos for a second series of Charlie Brooker's films under the Black Mirror banner. The London-based VFX house worked closely with director Neil Gorringe from pre-production to help mould the overall feel of the films.

The spot required dropping backwards and forwards between three narratives: a dream sequence, the repetitive factory setting and the huge dust cloud that sweeps through the street at the ad’s climatic end. MPC's VFX supervisor Michael Gregory says that this was a fun new challenge for the team.

“It’s not every day you get to mess things up,” he says.

“One of my favourite parts was the dream sequence,” Michael explains. This is the scene where a woman’s face breaks up into puzzle-like ‘glyphs’ – an important symbol used subtly throughout the program. The MPC FX Studio designed the motion graphics and the film was then completed in 2D.

The factory scene was created from footage of people shot on greenscreen. This was composited together to create the mirrored, staid production-line effect and the background was created with matte painting.

Stills from the Black Mirror series 2 trailer

Behind-the-scenes shots of filming the Black Mirror series 2 trailer

One of the largest areas of the project was the huge dust cloud that engulfs the street and the people in it.

“This was created in CG and it was the most complex and time consuming part of the VFX," says Michael. "We shot this footage before Christmas so that we had maximum time to work on this scene.

"The crowd replication was composited and we then worked on the reflections and shadows of the cloud. The team made use of technology developed for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus [which the film side of MPC worked on].”

The ads are to be aired on Channel 4 and in cinemas from Wednesday 22nd January.

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