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Celebrating 10 Years of Electric Theatre Collective in 10 Projects



Founding partners Lee Pavey, Giles Cheetham and James Sindle discuss their highlights from a decade of great work

Celebrating 10 Years of Electric Theatre Collective in 10 Projects

Electric Theatre Collective was founded September 26th 2011. Do you know what that means? Yep, we’re a Libra. But it also means this week marks our 10 year anniversary, which is really something to celebrate. The founding partners Lee Pavey, Giles Cheetham and James Sindle got together to discuss 10 years of Electric in 10 projects, chronologically listed, each significant to us in their own way. 

Axe - Own Monday 

Lee> I love films that show off all the talents we have at Electric and this spot certainly does that - grading, CGI, 2D compositing, hand drawn animation and design. When we worked on this project with Jonas & Francois in 2014 it really challenged the studio. I think it was a great calling card for Electric, establishing the kind of work we wanted to do and how we wanted to challenge the more established VFX houses for the best creative projects. 

In my opinion this film still holds up 7 years later. For a long time this was in nearly every pitch document we sent out which I always take as a sign that it’s an incredible piece of work.

Freeview - Left Behinds 

James> Easily one of the best ads we’ve worked on. Animating photoreal characters in a live action environment is our M.O. and it paved the way for many other projects at Electric. The creative was genius, the track was perfect. Years later we’re still proud of the VFX. It's impossible to know what is real and what is CG. Also, Working closely with Leo Burnett and Sam Brown was a delight. The end result definitely makes it worthy of a place on this list.

Sky Sports - Time Traveller Thierry

Giles> This spot had to make the list as it’s an early collab with one of our favourite directors, Scott Lyon, and not to mention a very tricky technical challenge. Working closely with Scott, we made a shortlist of key Premier League moments, and then had to work out what type of camera was used at the time, camera track in CG to then feed into a moco camera rig.

Working with DOP Will Black, we had a very strict shooting window to get sun angle and direction correct - a hugely challenging shoot and VFX job, but a charming, visually entertaining job. Very pleased indeed.

Virgin Media - 9.58 seconds

Lee> All the things I said I love about Axe Monday applies here too. This film has everything, amazing filmmaking and direction from the brilliant Seb Edwards at Academy, and every single skill and talent Electric has in it’s arsenal. CG stadiums, a 2D animation sequence that could have (and nearly did) be it’s own TV show, infographics, 8-bit computer game characters, a beautiful grade and incredible seamless compositing throughout. If it had a CG character too, it could have been our whole showreel in 2016.

Jose Cuervo - Last Days

Giles> As we know Ringan Ledwidge is total class, the perfect storyteller with a deft touch.

When we saw the script, we were beyond buzzing to get involved with this. An epic end of world tale. Working closely with Ringan we concepted the look, tone, and feel of the environment before bringing them to life with lots of CG sim work, matte paintings, and lighting. It required layers of atmospherics to make the expansive desert feel enveloped in destruction and chaos. It was a perfect storm (pardon the pun), of a strong creative team and a clear vision, coming together to transform sunny LA to a terrifying (but fun) vision of our Last Days. Life is still better with Tequila.

Great Western Railway - Five Go On A Great Western Adventure

James> In terms of look, we have never been involved in something so traditional and nostalgic. To be able to collaborate with Friends Electric and portray Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ in such a way was really exciting. The VFX process for this spot was so intricate with months of researching old illustrations, loads of design and concept work. We even ended up printing and scanning every single frame of the ad to create a page-like texture to imitate the look of old illustrations in books. We animated everything in CG and applied the 2D illustration after. This first ad led to a series of spots which inherited this original look and was ultimately improved upon, however the original has our hearts at ETC so therefore is chosen in our top 10.

Apple - This Watch Tells Time

Giles> Woah, this was a tight one. IPJ has one of the best and biggest creative minds in the business, and he wanted to go all out on this. The camera barely stops moving through satellites 12,427 miles above the earth, snowy forests in August and, obviously, a black hole in a school gym.

We pushed so hard on this, a really tight deadline, in a secret squirrel bunker, mental! 

For me, it’s pure fun and entertainment, great creative, amazing direction and a boatload of VFX.

IKEA - Silence The Critics

James> When we saw the script for this, we just had to work on it. Household objects rapping a grime track, YES PLEASE. We had to charm the agency and director Tom Kuntz to prove we were the right people to do it, so we did a test animation featuring some random objects we had sat around the office rapping to a Stormzy track. The actual spot consisted of modelling all the animated toys and creating completely photoreal versions. The performances the animators gave each character is what made this spot shine - simple and restrained performances full of attitude. It’s definitely a big highlight for Electric’s history.


Amazon Christmas 2020 - The Show Must Go On

Lee> In 10 years there have been some challenges along the way, one of them was how can we not include Beyoncé’s Formation, arguably one of the best music videos of all time, in the top 10 pieces of work. It won every award it could, and was the piece of work I would say we did when people I'd meet out and about asked “So what have you worked on that I would know?”. Well, it was a choice between Amazon and Beyoncé...and I think by writing this I kind of have sneaked them both in. Now on to Amazon which was directed by the same filmmaker as Formation, Melina Matsoukas. When you hear “Amazon”, “Christmas”, and “Melina Matsoukas with a script by Lucky Generals”, you know you have to be involved. Add to this that you’ve just seen your personal film of the year in Queen & Slim, again by Melina. After a pretty tough 9 months of dealing with Covid, not seeing your friends and colleagues or celebrating Christmas together, to end with a piece of filmmaking and storytelling you are so proud to be a part of was really something special.

Skrillex - Butterflies feat. Starrah and Four Tet

Lee> When we were putting this list together we kind of made a rule “no music videos', but how could we not include this one? Working with our friend and longtime collaborator Ben Stebel, this was pretty special. From the moment we spoke with Ben about his ideas and vision for the film we were in. Our belief is that VFX should always enhance the film the director shoots, and this is a brilliant example of that. As soon as I saw the first shot the CG team created I knew we were creating something you don’t see very often in music videos, and also that we had a shot for the next showreel. In the words of Giles Bollinger from the YouTube comments section, “This is beautiful, this will be remembered”, or maybe Creamii Art who said “I got the chills so bad I felt it in my nips... This is a whole vibe.

From the Founding partners: "We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone we have worked with and who has helped us along the way. From our clients to everyone who does and has worked at electric, here’s to another 10 years of smashing it!"

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Electric Theatre Collective, Fri, 01 Oct 2021 07:31:33 GMT