Animation: Dead Polar Bear to Refugee Camp

Section: Polar Bear to Refugee Camp
Format and style: Photomontage paintings, with greenscreen live action and CG
Director: Martyn Pick
Visual Effects Supervisor: Greg McKneally
Compositor: Marc Knapton
Refugees: Sylvia Wroblewski, Beth Stratford, assorted kids
Animation Studio: Photon Shepherds
Greenscreen Studio: Spectrecom Studio



Dead Polar Bear to Refugee Camp

The Arctic Shanty Town shot is the final sequence in a series of stylized representations of the devastation expected in 2055, including London underwater and Las Vegas buried in the desert, and culminating in a shanty town in the arctic, near to "The Archive", somewhere off the coast of Norway. The sequence begins with a dead polar bear floating on the last bit of ice (eventually floating on the cutting room floor), and pans across to reveal the town. Original photomontage paintings were created by Animation Director Martyn Pick, and then VFX Supervisor Gregory McKneally cut them up and placed the elements in 3D space to create a rough version of the scene in After Effects. Martyn and Greg then filmed groups of Spanner Films staff and volunteers dressed up in rags on a greenscreen stage, which would be used to populate the devastation scenes and the shanty town. Once the basic camera movement and layout was in place and approved, Compositor Marc Knapton took over the shot to finesse the details of the bear, the ocean, the villagers and the everpresent mist. The sequence was then passed back to The Photon Shepherds team to be integrated with the live action water and CG tower shot which follows.


Future Refugees

Animators line up the shot: Animation Director Martyn Pick (blue shirt) shows Visual Effects supervisor Greg McKnealley exactly the framing he's after for the green screen shoot. Date: November 2007Location: Spectrecom Studio, LondonCopyright:  Spanner FilmsCredit:  Spanner FilmsRestrictions: Free for use in Age of Stupid-related promotion. No resale.

Animation Director Martyn Pick (blue shirt) shows Visual Effects supervisor Greg McKneally exactly the framing he's after

The Spanner Films staff and random kids enjoyed dressing up in rags to be filmed against a green screen and then placed into the shot.


Sylvia's diary entry about being a futuristic refugee here.

More photos here.


Director's note

Franny writes: I had the unpleasant task of telling Greg and Marc that, after their immense efforts, David and I had decided that the polar bear was going to hit the cutting room floor. Partly because it was never as convincing as the rest of the devastated world sequence - probably because the dynamic camera move we attempted was too out-of-place with the preceding shots - but also because Mark Lynas pointed out that polar bears will be extinct long before 2055. (Unless we do something about climate change, of course.)