Still riding high after its recent BDA Gold Award win, creative digital studio !mpossible Pictures has created another wow-inducing piece – this time a provocative promo package for Discovery Channel’s “Investigative Thursdays” programming airing on Thursday nights.
The promo package is a continuation of !mpossible’s efforts to theme Thursday evenings on the Discovery Channel, having previously designed and produced 12 high-concept animated promos and banners over the past six months. “Investigative Thursdays” goes a step further with !mpossible handling the live-action and custom scoring services in addition to creative, design, animation, and Flame/Smoke compositing.
“Joel [Pilger] and the entire !mpossible team who worked on ‘Investigative Thursdays’ nailed this one… and then some!” comments Patricia Tong, Discovery Channel Producer. “It makes our job so much easier and more fun when we work with a vendor that consists of so much talent, professionalism, has such a full understanding of our side of the business and simply ‘gets it.’ We can’t be more pleased with the !mpossible staff and their work and we’re so glad they accepted the challenge of helping us brand ‘Investigative Thursdays.’ These guys are the real deal and can really do it all.”
“This assignment enabled us to really showcase our unique abilities on behalf of Discovery,” says Joel Pilger, !mpossible Pictures President, who acted as creative director on the project and also made his directorial debut in helming the shoot. “Similar to our previous themed Thursdays promo work, we were asked to ‘brand the night.’ But this time, they needed a piece that would air for several months. In our minds, this raised the bar considerably. We developed a flexible solution that could adapt over the coming months, as well as promote a wide range of subject matter.”
With topics ranging from crime to forensics to the paranormal and the Loch Ness monster, !mpossible presented different concept storyboards to Discovery Channel. Each concept employed a variety of disciplines drawing from !mpossible’s arsenal. The client ultimately chose one called “Magnify,” which featured a magnifying glass as a visual device to lead the viewer through an investigation of evidence inter-cut with flashback sequences.
The resulting promo package features a highly cinematic style and edgy visuals. An investigator in his lab studies evidence with his magnifying glass, which then flashes back to a point-of-view perspective of the events that created the evidence.
!mpossible decided to do a live-action shoot to obtain original and distinctive imagery for the promo. Pilger’s first step was selecting nationally recognized DP Kevin Emmons. Pilger and Emmons selected 16mm film, both SR and Bolex, as the shooting format for the desired look. Various members of the !mpossible team handled art department and props, location scouting, talent and the like.
“This shoot showed how a combination of lean-and-mean production with a healthy dose of creative freedom can generate outstanding results,” comments Pilger. “We pulled out all the stops on this production, needing to shoot seven scenes in one day.”
Pilger assumed the role of hand model (for the close-up evidence shots) while the remaining characters in the promo were played by a combination of talent, crew and the !mpossible team. Locations included a crime lab set in the !mpossible dining area, an interrogation chamber in their freight elevator, an alleyway in Downtown Denver, and a historic downtown building across the street. For the final shot featuring the Loch Ness monster, Flame VFX Artist Hector Espinosa used pre-existing stock footage and manipulated it to look like it was taken with a handheld camcorder. He then composited a 3D monster provided by 3D Artist Chad Jacobson.
In film transfer, the art direction of the piece came to life. “The choice to shoot film really paid off, since it provided a superior amount of dynamic range that we could exploit,” says Pilger. !mpossible Editor/Flame Artist Hector Espinosa then created a rough edit of the piece, originally envisioned as a :15. Early edits made it clear that a :30 piece would be more effective in establishing narrative while accommodating the range of topics.
The turnaround time from approval of concept to shoot was five days, and from shoot to final delivery was another five days. !mpossible was also charged with directing the music, so Pilger approached Coupe Studios in Boulder, CO to create an original score. Within just 24 hours, Composer Kip Kuepper provided two rough compositions for review.
“We found ourselves in an unusual position, being that early in the editing process with custom music already that far along,” says Pilger. “This gave us more time for tweaking and ensured that our edit would make sense to the audience.”
!mpossible provided Discovery Channel with an entire tool kit, which they will use for in-house promo creation. This included a variety of elements from the open including mini-opens, menus, banners, transitional devices, and billboards.
“Once again, we had a collaborative and incredible experience working with Discovery Channel,” concludes Pilger. “It’s a nice affirmation to be entrusted with such an creative and ambitious undertaking. And hey, I have a new respect for hand models!”
Client: Discovery Channel
Producer: Patricia Tong
Live-Action, Editorial, Design & Postproduction Company: !mpossible Pictures
President / Creative Director: Joel Pilger Line Producer: Spice Griffith
Director of Photography: Kevin Emmons Designer/Editor/Flame Artist: Hector
Espinosa 3D Artist: Chad Jacobson Art Department: Heather Arment Production
Assistant: Travis Hutchings
Music and Sound Design Company: Coupe Studios
Composer: Kip Kuepper