BSkyB Gets Into Gear For New Formula 1 Season

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BSkyB has never been shy of taking on the sports broadcasting establishment. Now, having taken control of both football and cricket, it is revving up for its first season as a broadcaster of Formula 1 motor racing.

BSkyB got the rights to Formula 1 via a share deal with the BBC. Subsequently it signed up Martin Brundle and Damon Hill as the commentary team for the new season, which starts with the Australian Grand Prix (March 16-18).

In terms of promoting the coverage, it called in MPC to help it create a new spot. According to MPC,  “the brief was a challenging yet rewarding one. Starting with a recreation of the last corner of Yas Marina F1 circuit where Lewis Hamilton takes the pole in 2011, the camera zooms into the back of his McLaren before whirring through the engine to find a beating heart at its core. A reveal shows the heart belonging to Brundle.”

MPC’s team - led by VFX Supervisor Anthony Bloor - began by prevising the scene to determine the timings and appropriate camera moves needed for Hamilton's last corner. “Knowing the complexity involved, the team took the decision to break the scene down into three stages that would be later comped together”.

The first stage involved recreating the detail and atmosphere of Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit. “The digital version of the circuit - provided by Animation Research Limited - gave the initial base for the team to build in photo-real details into the last corner, from the curbs and tyre marks, to the crowd in the stadium.”

The second stage involved the car itself - the McLaren MP4-26. “Working with McLaren and Q3D to get accurate data, the car was digitally remodeled. Dust, sparks and tyre marbles were later added and a final stage of lens imperfection at the compositing phase gave additional realism.

From here, the camera pans into the core of Hamilton's fully CG F1 engine. Completely building from scratch, the team simulated the explosions of the pistons before panning to the electronic control unit.”

The final challenge was the heart reveal. “The fully CG heart went through a number of developmental tests. Initial stages using an x-ray effect with animated valves and interior workings proved too visceral. Realising this, the team decided upon a more recognisable solid heart while keeping some subtler x-ray animations intact. For the final scene, the team composited in separate elements of all the hosts framing Martin Brundle.

George K added the grade using Baselight.”