Wednesday, June 27, 2012
As proud event sponsors, The Mill created a title film and
credits for the 2012 Young Director Award which celebrates the very
best in international new directing talent in Cannes each
Mill director and designer Carl Addy took the YDA theme of raw
talent as inspiration for the piece and takes us inside a child
director's imagination as we see a spoonful of food transform in
the mind's eye. Carl used pop culture and character
references to enhance this approach. We hope you enjoy.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
This month we have gone all continental, our travels have taken
us to London (not such a struggle…), Valenciennes, Montpellier,
Netherlands and Moscow!
Hugo Guerra was representing The Mill on The Foundry stand at
VES London, as well as visiting Moscow to present an amazing
breakdown of our Audi Hummingbird project.
Tom Walter, Operations Manager for London and Claire
Anderson, Talent Manager, had a great time at the University Of
Hertfordshire One Day Animation Extravaganza. The students were
really impressed with The Mill's presentation and they got to chat
with the guys over a couple of beers after the show.
Anglea Barry, Vincent Baertsoen and Richard Thomas headed to
Valenciennes to sit on the Jury for 2012 Supinfocom Graduation. We
all love Á La Française!
Last week Tom Walter and Tom Bussell, Head of 3D for London,
headed to the ArtFX school in Montpellier and had the opportunity
to see some amazing work by their passionate students.
If that wasn't enough myself and Jorge Montiel, Head of
Animation for commercials, are heading to the Gobelins open day on
Thursday 28th June. Please come and grab us if you
are attending and we can have a chin wag.
On the UK front, Jordi Bares has recently taken up a position on
the external board of examiners for Bournemouth NCCA.
Until next time…
Monday, June 25, 2012
The annual week of celebrating the best in creativity from
around the World has come to a close. This year saw a
festival full of stunning work, breath-taking visuals and a spot of
celebration (well, when in Cannes…).
With a mighty cheer-roar it's fantastic to be able to congratulate
MJZ, USA on receiving the Palme D'Or and Wieden+Kennedy, Portland
on winning Advertising Agency of the Year. As well as our long time
collaborators, BBH picking up the Creative Effectiveness Lion Grand
Prix for Axe/Lynx 'Excite'. A serious achievement!
We were also thrilled to see R/GA New York, USA receiving both the
Cyber Lions Grand Prix and Titanium and Integrated Lions Grand Prix
for Nike 'Fuelband'.
A good take away from this year's Cannes Lions saw UK ad agencies
strike back by picking up some of the biggest prizes at the 2012
festival. It was a really good year overall for UK agencies,
with a number scooping Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions in their
It was great to see BBH's Guardian 'Three Little
Pigs' do so well collecting a raft of Lions in various
categories as well Playstation 3's 'Michael' with Deutsch Los
Angeles awarded a Silver Lion in the Short Format Internet
And congratulations to all our clients, it's always exciting to
see projects we've worked on pick up awards including Doritos 'Dip Desperado', P&G
'Best Job', Nike 'I would Run To You', Hennessy 'Manny', Barnardo's 'Life Story', ASOS 'Urban Tour', Heineken
'The Legendary making Of The Date', Old
Spice 'Motorcycle', Nissan 'Gas Powered Everything',
Unilever's 'The Dove Ad Makeover', and last but by no means least
the British Heart Foundation's 'Vinnie'.
You can see a full list of all winners and shortlists on the
Cannes Lions website.
Welcome back and well done to all the award winners… same time,
same place next year!
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Mill Film were thrilled to be an integral part of Universal
Picture's new take on the classic fairy tale Snow White and the
Huntsman. With director Rupert Sanders at the helm, the concept was
taken back to the original darkness of the Brothers Grimm
Will Cohen, Mill TV and Film's Managing Director/Exec Producer
explains: "The initial brief provided for creating the Mirror Man
in SWATH by VFX. Supervisor, Cedric Nicholas-Troyan was asked to
have the magic mirror on the wall melt/dissolve off the wall and
form into a solid metallic/statue-like character in an elegant
way. There was a process of discovery to go on in terms of
how this would happen and what it would look like that led to 5/6
months RnD. Cedric was keen to keep the audience wondering if
Mirror Man was liquid or solid and to explore how he would move and
what that would look like. The work would split into three areas:
emission from the mirror/wall, formation into Mirror Man and then
The director, Rupert Sanders, and Cedric had created a mood
trailer to help get the film green lit and had a very good
reference for the design of Mirror Man as well as initial tests
from the trailer for the Mirror emission and formation.
Cedric, who was then partnered on the film with VFX Supervisor,
Phil Brennan suggested we explore a live action shoot before
starting RnD on the computers to explore how different kinds of
liquids and materials would react in reality. We shot for a
day with a phantom camera at 1000 fps upending tins of paint over
upside down dummies, heating up corn-starch and playing with ink in
Returning to the computers to emulate some of the tests, we
began emitting a controlled volume of liquid from the mirror and
progressively morphing the emission into a solid shape. The
results were not terribly satisfying so we tried in parallel
different approaches such as meshed soft-body and finally cloth
simulation, inspired by returning to the original teaser trailer
where Cedric had literally stood up covered by a large sheet of
gold lame. Further tests were conducted to try and combine
cloth and fluid. Getting cloth simulations to behave like
liquid was tricky to do without exploding the simulation. We
used Mayan Cloth and wrote a lot of custom forces to control the
cloth shape. Ultimately the mirror emission was achieved by
simulating cloth ribbon being pushed out of a hole but a load of
secondary effects have been done to deform, relax and smooth the
cloth simulation in Houdini. Playing with speed and
direction helped to add weight as the emission hits the steps in
the mirror chamber.
In helping production prep for the shoot we produced a lot of
technical previs/design for the mirror on the wall shape and the
witness camera design. The plan was to use a reflective prop
on set with a Red Epic camera inside to capture Charlize Theron's
Production provided us with a 3D scan of the set and we did a
spheron survey. We then reconstructed the environment in
3D. The IBL and lights were separated so we could position
candles or fire where needed.
The Queen was then reflected in Mirror Man in 2D using uv normals
and point position in world space so we could control the look. The
real physical reflection would have made her almost invisible so
these had to be cheated. Animating the formed Mirror Man was
detailed, subtle and experimental because whilst we had to respect
the phonetics of what he was saying it is only when you see Mirror
Man rendered and cut into the scene can you really tell what it
looks like. Each shot then had a second layer of cloth
One of the main challenges that Cedric and Phil highlighted from
the beginning was that Mirror Man was to be a large and fairly
static full CG character that would have nowhere to hide in a
performance based scene. The Mirror Man is as much about the
performance of Charlize Theron reflected in him as it is about him
and we were very proud to take part in producing such an iconic and
memorable sequence in the film.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Compared to some of the previously brutal stages, day 8 looked
on paper to be a fairly straight forward stage for this year's
battle hardened Fireflies. Only one major climb and a very steady
6% gradient for approximately 28km. Long, slow and draining.
All (still baby smooth?) legs were very achey this morning and
once again high temperatures added to the intensity of challenge.
There was little time to warm up before we were straight into the
ascent up the Col de la Cayolle. The long climb proved to be much
more challenging than expected. Luke & Ed were heading up at a
very good pace however Luke struggled, feeling like his legs were
working too hard and was constantly searching for more gears. As
the riders climbed up through the cliff lined walls of the valley
we experienced some of the most beautiful scenery seen so far on
this years tour. With the Fireflies spread across the length of the
climb Ed & Luke arrived at the last 200m. As Luke switched gear
to sprint up the last section he realised he had been in the big
ring gear all the way up leaving him exhausted. A quick 2 mins to
recover and we descended back down the slope to help other
Fireflies up the final 2km.
A beautiful descent, one of the best so far, brought us to a
rushed lunch stop of a very authentic local delicacy … Chicken
After Lunch Stu & Luke joined the express train to the finish.
This has been nicknamed the 'crazy train' because of the speed that
the single file group of riders travel at, which can drain ones
energy extremely quickly. The train started with approximately 22
riders, at the front of which Stu injected the pace as he does
best. The crazy train reached speeds of up to 56kmph along the
flats as we swept through the dramatic scenery, bringing us to the
hotel at a pleasantly early finish time.
Meanwhile Ed used his strong legs to help other riders down the
final pass, giving them a draught which sped them back to the
hotels faster than they would otherwise be able to.
Overall, a very fast paced day, with stunning scenery and ending
with a slope off to find a French Bar to watch the England match
Top Speed: 76kmph
Total Distance: 122km
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Screen International 2012 UK Stars of Tomorrow has been
announced and we're all so proud to see one of our Mill Directors,
William McGregor amongst the ranks of the UK's upcoming young
Screen's annual UK Stars of Tomorrow introduces
the hot list of UK talent who will dominate UK and international
film over the next few decades.
Take a look at the feature here,
where Screen picks out the most exciting names about to break.
Stars this year has been curated by long-time Screen collaborator
Fionnuala Halligan, who spent several months reviewing the
selection, watching shorts, reading scripts and consulting with
agents, producers, casting directors and development executives
over the new faces that are about to break out, culminating in a
final group of 30.
Screen International gathered their stars for a photo shoot at
The Club at The Ivy in London and in July, Screen and De Lane Lea
studios will be hosting a summer party to celebrate this year's
Screens Stars of Tomorrow is in its eighth year with previous
Stars of Tomorrow including James McAvoy, Robert Pattinson, Emily
Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Andrea Arnold, Rupert Friend, Dev Patel,
Aaron Johnson, Gemma Arterton, Rebecca Hall and many others.
Luke Evans, one of Screen's stars from 2009, will this year be seen
as one of The Three Musketeers and as Zeus in Immortals. Sam
Claflin, a Star last year, is third lead to Johnny Depp and
Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
A good start and another very hot day still at 38C. The news of
a slightly later start time was really well received by all
Fireflies, particularly after yesterday's monster day. Today we
faced another day of climbing and our ride would take us to the
highest point of this year's tour 2,360m including another world
famous climb up Col d'Izoard.
Our very, very tired legs welcomed the start of the day as we
began with a 12km descent to the valley floor (thankfully very
little peddling required). We then began the first of four climbs
up the Col de Montgenevre. This should have been a relatively easy
climb but proved to be challenging with the early morning chill
making cold and aching legs. So we all stopped for an early coffee
or hot chocolate stop when we reached the top. Then a time
honoured Fireflies tradition... a number of riders including us the
club 18-30 boys got their orders in for a McDonalds! Yes, we know
it's bad but you can't knock tradition, and it doesn't really
matter when you're burning over 6,000 calories a day!
Back on the ride we had a quick 6km descent that took us to the
base of the Col d'Izoard, where Stu had a very close call, kissing
a safety barrier on the way down! Whether he had too much speed
into the cliff lined corner or was just trying to get a closer look
at the spectacular view, we'll never really know.
We pushed on through up the mountain roads (tarmac roads toady!)
to the Col d'Izoard which is a 19km climb with a gradient averaging
8-9%. This one is really long and really relentless. The really
great support team once again helped by pouring water over the
riders to keep them cool in the high heat. Luke had the added
pressure of carrying the internet-views tracker for the first time
today, so of course, he set a brutal pace for other riders to
follow. The riders climbed up 55 hairpin bends trying to distract
themselves from the pain in their legs by taking in some of the
most stunning scenery encountered on the ride so far. Riders began
to filter to the summit which looked a bit a odd lunar landscape so
was amazing to see. To our pleasure the support team had our Big
Macs, fries and Cokes waiting for us at the top and we really were
Then one of the highlights of the entire tour came in the form
of the descent down the other side. Huge sweeping turns lay in
front of us for the next 25km and with turns being visible for
miles and miles ahead, riders could descend with confidence easily
knowing if oncoming traffic was imminent.
The third climb of the day (The Col de Vars) immediately
followed the lunch break. Temperatures became almost unbearable
with riders removing almost every last shred of clothing (without
being naked) in a vain effort to keep cool. Although not as
challenging as Col d'Izoard on paper, the heat and tired legs made
this climb a real mental and physical slog to compete with the
riders being really spread out over the full length of the climb.
The tiny shop at the top of the climb must have been close to
running out of ice cream's once all the fireflies had passed
On the other side a brilliant 30km descent needed every inch of
concentration as the Fireflies were fading in the hot conditions.
The desperate desire to get home meant a 20 strong single file
peleton formed delivering the Fireflies home as quickly as
possible. The desire to finish the stage was so great that the
speed of the peleton ramped up to a high point of approximately
50kmph on the flat, with Stu adding the power, as he does best.
This was however to be everyone's undoing as they had nothing left
for the nasty 2km climb up to the finish line.
So, all in all, another brutal day left everyone exhausted, with
Stu struggling to keep his eyes open again. But Stu's tiredness and
inability to stay conscious is giving Luke, Ed and some of the
other Fireflies plenty of entertainment. Luke and Ed were so
impressed with the speed at which Stu shut down they have started
timing him with an impressive 12.8 seconds from wide awake to fast
Top Speed: 75kmph
Total Distance: 135km
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Temperatures and climbing were the order of day, and boy the
heat really stepped up a notch to a scorching 38C. So with sun
cream liberally applied, water bottles fully laden and rested legs
we began the longest climbing day of this year's tour (on the
hottest day of this year's tour….)
We were facing a very long steady climb for 50km up to the Col
del Lis, which turned out to be an action packed day involving a
total of four crashes (before lunch!) as bodies began to tire in
the heat. Happy to report all riders were OK despite some minor
wounds. The first crash involved Milesy who inadvertently crashed
into the back of the camera car, looking forward to seeing the
footage in due course! This was followed by Duncan having the next
to tumble. Strangely, once again video cameras were involved, as he
was following Luke down a fast descent while holding a camera in
one hand.... Meaning he was unable to effectively use his breaks so
he hit a car head on, totally destroying his £6,000 bike but
somehow walking away with only minor grazes. Heroically he is going
to continue the rest of the ride on a bike belonging to his Mrs.
Then in a totally separate accident but at exactly the same time,
Penny (Duncan's Wife) had a spill as she clipped Ed's rear tire
tumbling on her shoulder and spending the rest of the day cheering
from the support cars. (Starting to suspect Ed and Luke are stealth
mode attempting to take out the competition…).
Crashes over, we had a long tiring slog along the flats that
brought us to a much needed lunch break and a chance for everyone
to re-group, recover and prepare for the daunting task ahead.
One of the cycling world's top ten road racing awaited us after
lunch, the Colle Delle Finestre peaking at a staggering 2,176m.
This monster averages 11% gradient for approximately 20km of which,
the top 8km is an unpaved road.
We started out at the bottom in 38C heat which immediately
caused problems all round as we all needed regular water refills as
well as each rider being dowsed in water before they continued
slowly and steadily up the paved section. Desperate and loud
cries of 'COME ON FIREFLIES' echoed through the woodland and as we
tried to keep each other going. As our now very weary bodies
reached the final 8km, the tarmac ran out, the trees thinned to
what seemed like a never ending and barren landscape. Our stiff
road bikes struggled on the dusty and rocky surface and our speeds
dropped even further as we wrestled to gain traction and keep our
bikes upright. Riders spent the entire 8km weaving across the track
to find some firmer and smoother ground, oh and did I mention the
hairpin bends causing a lot of riders to fall and then struggle to
get started again?
To make matters even worse the air was thinning every and
draining the riders even more. After over a gruelling two hours of
this, the Fireflies finally began to reach the top, lead by the one
and only Ed Shires. The climb left us all exhausted, physically and
So to the descent... The riders descended down a very narrow and
technically challenging descent off the other side. Unfortunately,
this was not the last climb of the day and once we hit the valley
floor we immediately had a 7% gradient climb for 20km on the Colle
di Sestriere to the ski resort we were staying in - an oasis to us
all now. With little left in the tank riders trickled up the
mountain using every last bit of energy.
It felt like an epic and extraordinary day. Our tiredness knew
new bounds as was beautifully demonstrated by Stu, who fell asleep
at supper before the starter had even arrived. We woke him,
he ate his starter and immediately fell asleep again only to be
woken for the pasta course. This pattern continued through to
Needless to say, we all slept incredibly well. Job done.
Total Distance: 151km
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Last week saw the debut exhibition of visual artist Myoshka (aka
Mill Director PK) and his limited edition monochrome screen print
Launching at Maharishi as part of his ongoing work with the brand,
XXIII combines mesmerizing optical art, ancient symbolism and
modern technology influences.
The night also saw the long awaited reveal of the collaboration
between Maharishi and the G-SHOCK GA -110. The watch uses
Bamdazzle; the pattern featured on the watch which has been
inspired by the dazzle paint scheme used on Navy ships during World
PK masterminded a video installation that really brings the
Myoshka, Maharishi, Casio/G-Shock and Bamdazzle work together in
Vodka tonics flowed, guests stood hypnotized by the installation
and a successful Soho summer night ensued. You can learn more about
Myoshka here… and
if you're UK based and fancy viewing the exhibition it's at the
Maharishi Store, 2-3 Great Pulteney Street, Soho, London until 14th
Monday, June 18, 2012
The winners for the 2012 PromaxBDA Promotion, Marketing and
Design Awards, which celebrate excellence, creativity and
innovation, were presented on Friday, June 15, 2012 in Los Angeles.
The ceremony was hosted by actor and comedian Jay Mohr and the
excitement for the competition was strong.
Nominated in several categories, The Mill NY's Promo for A+E's
"Bag of Bones" won several awards in the Cinematic and Design
categories of competition including a Silver award in the
TELEVISION - VIDEO PRESENTATION: CONTENT PROMOTION - MADE-FOR-TELEVISION MOVIE
SPOTand a Bronze award for TELEVISION /
VIDEO PRESENTATION: GENERAL ENTERTAINMENT - ART DIRECTION & DESIGN:
PROGRAM/CONTENT - CAMPAIGN.
You can see the complete list of winners at
And check out the eerie beauty of the Promo below!