Television and broadcasting graduate works on award-winning short film

4 June 2020

5 min read

An explosive live action film to accompany music from the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) has won two awards at the New York Festivals. 

The one-minute film captures a dancer using fabrics, sparklers, flares, smoke grenades and chalk dust to reflect the power and explosive moments of the music Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. 

It was co-created by former University of Portsmouth student, Richard Pizey, who now works as a senior motion designer for global branding agency Superunion. 

Dancer Ella Robson Guilfoyle choreographed 19 individual ‘bite-size’ sequences following the movement of conductor Simon Rattle, music director for the LSO. 

LSO: Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano

The award-winning film

Graduate Richard Pizey worked on the film with colleagues from global branding agency Superunion, Found Studio and dancer Ella Robson Guilfoyle.

Television and broadcasting graduate Richard said: “The sequence would have been impossible to perform in real-time, so we had to break it down into stages.

“Ella danced with fabrics to create the base layer of movement and we shot each sequence in isolation at 50 frames per second – the speed of movement the images are shown. We then added the pyrotechnics and shot Ella at 100 frames per second. 

“We also shot at a really high resolution to capture as much detail as possible and filmed Ella against a black background, from high up, to create a striking dance sequence. Once we’d captured the movement, we added a bespoke echo effect to create a motion trail which gives a fiery flame-like effect."

The final film is dramatic, explosive and tension-fuelled, which perfectly captures the volatility of the music.

Richard Pizey, BSc Television and Broadcasting graduate

Superunion collaborated with Found Studio to create the film, which was inspired by LSO’s current theme ‘Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano’. The theme refers to a phrase used to describe the febrile atmosphere in Germany in the 1930s, as Europe lay on the cusp on profound social, cultural and political upheaval.

This is the first year a live-action interpretation of the motion capture from Sir Simon Rattle’s conducting has been used. 

Richard added: “It’s a really exciting project and we’re obviously over the moon to have already started picking up awards. Fingers crossed this is the first of more to come!”

The film won gold for best brand design in the New York Festivals advertising awards. It also picked up a prestigious ‘Grand’ prize, which are awarded to the best in show. The winners were announced online when the ceremony was meant to take place before it was cancelled due to Covid-19.