Jakthundene – radioplay
Finally another promo for a radio show!
NRKs radio theater is airing Jørn Lier Horst’s Jakthundene – a four episode crime series – for the age old custom of Easter “who-dunnit” here in Norway. And I got to do the promo!
As with Kongshavn, my last Radioteater effort – radio promos are my favorite – you have to be really creative and there are few restrictions. Also – it’s also really hard for the customer to pull you down since your interpretation of the audio is as valid as theirs. It’s often, or at least so far – a safe haven for more abstract ideas and challenging concepts.
That’s the theory anyway, as it turned out, this was a really though job to get right. I did the audio edit in collaboration with the people behind the show and since the storyline is way too complex to explain in detail, I needed to find just the right lines to give the viewer a sense of what was going on and why this was a out-of-the-ordinary crime series. We spent an intense week getting this and the voice over right.
30 seconds is a tough barrier not to cross when you’ve got 4 hours of storyline to condense- every word needs to be precise and well acted out. Also – its actually really hard to understand who’s who of the actors for an unprepared audience.
Before I came around to the solution that got aired – I dabbled around trying to solve this the “Kongshavn”-way, by visually acting out each line in a semi-abstract way. It got really complicated really quick – and impossible to understand. People I showed it to was completely overwhelmed by all the impressions. To top that off the deadline got set forth a week, leaving little time to heavy 3d setups.
Heres the initial previz:
So, with little time left on my hands, and a non-sensical previz – my options where running out. Enter the go to solution for struggling motionographers – the Saul Bass pastiche.
How do I defend my way out of this? By going this route, I knew the promo would end up looking like a million other graphical promos. But I needed some dead on imagery to help the viewer understand what was going on and who was talking at any given time. So there – I did it. I knowingly stole some of the industry’s most tired imagery.
I started over with sketching, and didn’t draw many lines on paper before I went digital in Illustrator. I timed all the illustrations in Premiere to get a sense of the finished product before I jumped into the cursed After Effects. How anyone can work on a daily basis in that application without scrathing their eyes out is beyond me.
But it got the job done in the end, and you gotta love how you can throw down a sketch and have it fly towards camera the next second in perfect resolution all the way (I’m talking about continous rasterization of AI-files in AE).
So, since I was already ripping the late Saul Bass off, I might as well tip my hat in his direction by adding another visual homage, the spinning camera towards the end of the promo, which gives this unsettling, whirlwind, sense of vhertigo and being dragged down into something from which you cannot escape. Lifted straight from the legendary poster.
I also did some posters and stuff for social media:
The 3d-part of the promo came around in kinda the last minute, to begin with I had some really disturbing 3d guys turning towards the camera, but it didn’t work. Also, I had no idea for the last 6 seconds of the promo, the packshot. In hindsight, I think dog’s teeth are a fairly obvious choice, but it’s weird how solutions like that are elusive until the very end of a project (the name of the play is “the hunting dogs”). So when I finally arrived at the teeth illustration it solved both the shot where the voice-over says “Now he’s the hunted one” and the packshot, where one always needs som calm but interesting imagery to rest on while the details of airtime etc. is being listed.
I usually turn to 3ds Max’ CAT for rigs, but this one was so simple that I set it up with some simple FK bones. It might have been quicker to animate had I used HI for the neck joint, I’ll never know.
The teeth were quickly drawn in Illustrator, extruded and placed in 3ds max for a tesselated, cell shaded look. It took roughly 2 days before the animations where tight. you really need to go over it times and times again.
I did however, use CAT’s Muscle strand to quickly add some dynamic sliver between the jaws. It’s not simulated or scientifically accurate, but it get’s the job done, fast, with easy setup and squash and stretch on the fly. Add a spring controller to the bezier handles and voila, you’ve got some convincing sliver flying around between the jaws.
For the stuff hanging out of the jaw I used some really simple geometry, only faces, and simulated them with Cloth. If you’ve modeled to real world scale it’s pretty simple to get fairly convincing stuff really fast. I used Rubber for preset to get some elasticity going. After the sim I extruded and smoothed the flat, animated geometry to get it looking three dimensional.
So here’s the final promo -hope you like it!