June 13, 2007

Reviving Edward Hopper, Exopolis Creates Inspired Promo for Turner Classic Movies

Los Angeles - Creative studio Exopolis was recently tapped by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to breathe new life into the much-loved "Sunny Side of Life" promo that first aired on the network 13 years ago.
Using modern-day animation techniques, Exopolis brought viewers into a moody Edward Hopper-esque cityscape. The :30 animated piece entitled "TCM Now Showing" introduces films on the classic movie channel. 
While none of Edward Hopper's paintings were used in the promo, Exopolis referenced several of his most well known works, including 1942's "Nighthawks," in which solitary patrons sit at the counter of an all-night diner.
"The original promo was animated years ago by cutting out still imagery, and creating movement through parallax," says senior creative director Brien Holman. "TCM came to us with the desire to maintain the mood and atmosphere of the original, while 're-imagining' that promo with today's technologies in motion design."  
The promo features a lived-in and slightly run-down urban setting, filled with sparsely populated subway trains in which people sit moodily under long shifting shadows. A sweeping camera pans across buildings, revealing the people inside -- a man reads the paper by the window and next door, a woman dresses herself. The closing shot glides to a coffee shop window, on which the TCM logo and words "Now Showing" are applied to the glass.  
To achieve this dramatic and cinematic 3D world, Holman oversaw a team of designers and animators using a software package consisting of Autodesk 3ds Max for modeling, Adobe After Effects for compositing, and Ambient Design ArtRage 2 to create the oil painting-like effect. Using ArtRage 2, designer Lorin Wood custom painted textures for each scene from which 3D objects were then modeled in 3ds Max. 
To achieve the stylized painting effect in scenes featuring people, and to give the characters an almost realistic, lifelike quality, several layers of footage from Getty Images were rotoscoped into separate passes of light and shadow. Animator Richie Sandow then treated and composited each layer in After Effects, hand-painting some detail back into each character to create each final "custom-painted" individual.