Well, UK studio Minivegas has officially blown my mind. After a year brewing up brilliant ideas, crunching over 50,000 lines of code and shooting live action, they’ve created a campaign of real-time idents for Welsh network S4C that is truly innovative.
The usage of a phrase like “real-time” always demands an explanation. In this case, the wizards at Minivegas worked out several different ways to map audio input from ident voiceovers to various events in live action vignettes of Welsh life. For instance, in “Lights” the audio triggers on and off events for lights in a lighting store while the shop proprietor climbs a ladder. Over 50 HDRI images are composited in real-time to pull off what seems like a totally believable effect.
If it sounds simple, trust me: it’s not. Make sure to watch the “Explained” video for an in-depth explanation of the whole project.
Not content to be one-trick ponies, Minivegas came up with 10 different scenarios for their audio-reactive imagery. The reactive imagery ranges from welding sparks to electric cords to parking lot typography. Sometimes the effect is subtle, sometimes it’s not. Some scenes are more effective than others, but Minivegas’ sheer willingness to experiment is worthy of serious praise.
At the risk of overloading you with buzz-words, Minivegas made sure their solution was an to end-to-end one:
“We’ve built a box that behaves like a digi deck and installed it at the broadcaster’s office. It can communicate with their scheduling system, switch audio feeds from a number of sources, and output synchronized digital video and audio using broadcast standard sources.”
Given that S4C is bi-lingual (in Welsh and English), allowing for flexibility in the voiceover was crucial. What’s great, though, is that the idents also work pretty well without any voiceover at all.
While we’re at it, S4C deserves credit for continuing to fund provocative work like this. They’ve been mentioned here before for other mind-tickling idents, and I hope they continue this kind of patronage.