Cinesite Takes Churchill Into The Storm For HBO

Friday 29th May, 2009   This weekend sees the premiere on HBO of Into  The Storm, HBO's major special and sequel to the award-winning The Gathering Storm (2002).  Cinesite created several key effects sequences for the production, which screens this Sunday 31st May at 9PM on HBO.

Into The Storm follows another key period in the life of Winston Churchill.  It explores his vital role in thwarting the Nazis during WWII, intrepid style of wartime leadership, political career and relationship with lifelong supporter and wife, Clemmie.

Many of Cinesite's shots involved the creation of digital matte paintings, for which Head of Digital Matte Painting Lino Khay was largely responsible.  Other key Supervisors for Cinesite on the production were Sue Rowe and Andy Robinson (Digital Effects Supervisors).

Cinesite's biggest sequence shows Churchill emerging on the rooftop of a government building at night, from where he watches the Docklands being bombed.  A digital matte painting of London was composited with CG planes, CG searchlights and tracer fire.  The look of the beams and how the light splits into strands, were historically checked and recreated accurately.

The London environment flashes as bombs hit the distant skyline, but Producer Frank Doegler wanted a very subtle effect to ensure the audience is more concerned with Churchill's thought process as he contemplates the disaster, than the spectacle of its recreation.

Other sequences involved the recreation of Churchill and Clemmie's South of France home using digital matte painting and compositing techniques. The actors were originally filmed against blue and green screens before the background, created from stitching together live action footage and still photographs, was added in.

Cinesite is currently working on Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows:  Part 1 (Warner Bros.), Naked Beauty (Disney), Clash of The Titans (Warner Bros.), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Disney) and Leap Year (Spyglass).  Other recent productions which have not yet been released include Moon (Liberty Films), The Prisoner (AMC/ITV) and Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros).