When the BBC invites celebrities to appear in its promotional
films, it always gets a good turnout. But not even the BBC expects the
likes of Ruby Wax, Martine McCutcheon, Salman Rushdie and Michael Palin
to stick around while each shot is perfected.
For Leagas Delaney’s latest BBC film, heralding the arrival of digital
broadcast, many of the featured stars had just 15 minutes to shoot their
segments. They were each shot in whatever location was to hand and the
film was pasted together later.
The film is meant to illustrate the idea of viewers taking a ’digital
journey’ with the BBC. It features celebrities in a variety of locations
- Ruby Wax at Glastonbury, Stephen Fry in a restaurant and Michael Palin
in a jungle - all linked by a ’virtual’ camera, which pans around the
widescreen images to create the impression of seamless and dynamic
movement between the locations.
It could all too easily have looked like a series of talking heads
edited together, so Doug Foster, who directed the ad through Blink,
planned everything around the post-production, which was done at the
Mill. Foster started as a motion control cameraman, so has a good
grounding in the techniques used for building up layers of film in an
To simplify the shoot and minimise the preparation time, actors were
shot with a static camera. But a mere sequence of ’locked-off’ shots
would have created too limited a result.
Foster shot all the performances with a static camera, then took a
further eight surrounding shots to put them in context. The nine images
were joined up on Flame and Inferno. Foster drew inspiration from the
’virtual tours’ of rooms or shopping malls that are found on the
internet and combined this technique with a trick that every amateur
photographer uses - taking pictures of a panorama from different angles
and joining the photos up afterwards to make one big, wide-angled
At the Mill, the crew invented a new way to stitch the film together,
allowing them to build up a virtual environment within which the camera
could be moved around. Spirit was used to scan the images at high
resolution, and the enhanced picture was pieced back together in Flame
by Jason Watts.
The result is that the personalities appear to have been filmed in one