Weird Warfare

History Channel - 2011

Working in-house for Wide-Eyed Entertainment as the VFX designer across their slate of programming and development, it was my job to create the graphics across the series. Weird Warfare was commissioned as a series exploring the most outlandish, ridiculous and bizarre examples of warfare from the last century: From pigeon-guided missiles to an aircraft carrier made of ice, trained mosquitoes laced with poison, to incendiary bats.

Taking inspiration from old war films of the second world war and newsreel, I produced over 20 minutes of animated content, motion graphics and VFX shots to use throughout the series. As well as titles, and stylised archive presentations, the main component was the use of 2.5D tableau vivants to explain the more elaborate schemes.

Pykrete Tableau as it appears in the show

After the shoot, I prepped the photos, ready to import into After Effects and began assembling rough animatics, seeing what additional assets might be needed. Traditional greenscreen techniques were used, but also a lot of still cleanup was needed, as a lot of the surfaces of the props were quite reflective or had a high level of polished sheen.

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I was tasked with storyboarding before then shooting green screen photos of a whole roster of actors and props, directing them to achieve what I had in mind. This was difficult, not only as the actors weren’t use to green screen studios, but also the concept of blocking their actions for the photos - but it was a lot of fun and stress.The plan was to assemble these moments in frozen slices, using simple camera moves and clever editing to blend together a coherent edit. While working from a rough script, there was a lot of room for experimenting and to get coverage to anticipate and likely rewrites and options for the edit too.
 

Bionic Spy Cat Tableau in the show

As the edits started to come together I had to build up the background and additional props needed in each scene to build the montages. These were a combination of shot photos, 3D renders and photoshopped elements.I had a lot of control over the whole process and employed a wide range of camera tricks to bring it together.

Bionic Spy Cat Tableau in the show